To boost employee engagement, companies must first understand its impact

No one wins when employees are disengaged.
No one wins when employees are disengaged.
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More than simply an ambiguous term revered by HR managers, employee engagement is a crucial element of productivity in the workplace.

We know engagement is good for growth, and mounting evidence suggests it is directly tied to a business’s bottom line. Still, a survey by Gallup indicates today’s workforce is experiencing lukewarm engagement levels at best: Just 32% of respondents said they felt “actively engaged” at their jobs.

A growing body of research seeks to break down employee engagement to its fundamentals and propose ways for managers to encourage it. The literature detailing the impact of engagement is still in early stages, but so far it’s compelling enough to warrant a close look—particularly for businesses who want to bridge the perplexing gap between optimistic forecasts and mediocre performance.

The relationship between employee engagement and loyal customers

We can define engagement more concretely than a vague aura of “warm and fuzzies” in the workplace: An employee’s engagement level is gauged by the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. Disengagement has been linked to detriments such as theft, employee turnover, and even safety incidents.

On an intuitive level, the correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction makes sense. When employees are passionate about their work, they’re more inclined to put in the effort that translates into buzzing productivity levels, a happier sales force, a more credible product pitch, and ultimately, increased revenue.

Gallup’s employee engagement assessment sheds light on the topic: Researchers found that employees scoring in the upper echelons of engagement levels had double, triple, and even quadruple odds of success compared with workers in the bottom half of the bucket. What’s more, work units displaying top-quartile engagement rates exceeded the bottom-quartile cohort’s performance by somewhat staggering figures: 10% on customer ratings, 21% on productivity, and 22% on profitability.

These numbers suggest employee engagement is perhaps an even more impactful piece of overall strategy than previously thought—and one worth learning how to effectively track.

Encouraging engagement via data-driven insights

Fostering employee engagement is often a task more fretted about in board meetings than actively instituted. There are a few management tactics, though, that show promise: Rewarding and recognizing high performers, ensuring employees have a clear understanding of how their role contributes to the overall business model, and clear communication from senior leadership rank high among them.

In order to effectively implement those measures, however, employers must first conduct due diligence to uncover pain points—and areas of promise—within their organization. Just as data can be crucial in helping to establish revenue streams, defining metrics and analytics are key for monitoring and tweaking engagement strategies.

Companies are finding ways to quantify the relationship between engagement and profitability, relying on theories like the service-profit chain. Technology, too, can give managers an upper hand when it comes to nurturing an engaged workforce. One system of technologies known as Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) has proven particularly successful for employers and employees.

NICE Systems is spearheading the charge toward providing software solutions that help effectively measure and manage engagement. Recognized as a leader in WEM by Gartner Research, NICE’s platform not only helps managers build internal engagement to drive growth, it also addresses engagement from a holistic vantage point, addressing everything from engagement-focused onboarding to data-driven coaching. Based in the cloud, it’s an intuitive, reliable, and cost-effective way for businesses to get a handle on employee engagement on a macro level.

Tackling employee engagement can be daunting, especially in the service industry. But, explains NICE, “services and operations leaders need not feel overwhelmed by the challenge of engaging their people; they can make huge leaps with the right workforce management technology. By equipping agents with tools that enable greater visibility, input and control, organizations can drive accountability for schedules and performance.”

Employee engagement is too crucial a piece of company culture for businesses to ignore. The first step to understanding how to boost engagement is learning how to measure it; the second is learning how to effectively implement strategies that work.

Learn more

about how NICE’s cloud-based WEM software can help your business piece together the employee engagement puzzle.

This article was produced on behalf of NICE by Quartz Creative and not by the Quartz editorial staff.