Guest post: Employee engagement in the workplace

Today is #WorldHappinessDay. This month’s guest, Alan Price, COO and Employment Law Director at Peninsula, gives us his thoughts on employee engagement, which is something that can help people to feel happy at work.

Employee engagement - people at a tableEmployee engagement is the approach within a workplace leading to the right working conditions for employees.

It relates to an employee’s loyalty to an organisation, productivity and commitment to their organisational goals and values.

It’s important not to confuse this with employee satisfaction. Staff satisfaction measures their level of satisfaction or content at an organisation. Engagement, on the other hand, addresses their level of motivation, involvement and commitment.

This approach increases the chances of success. It also contributes to an employee’s performance, productivity and overall wellbeing.

According to ACAS, there are four key ingredients that make for happier, productive and motivated employees. They are:

  • Leadership with a vision that values individual employee contributions to the success of an organisation.
  • Line managers that delegate to empower instead of control.
  • Putting values into practice instead of just talked about. This builds a sense of trust and integrity.
  • Giving employees the opportunity to voice their views and concerns to upper management.

Within the non-profit sector, employee motivation takes a different approach than it would in a for-profit. And because their motivators are different, it makes sense that their engagement drivers would also be different.
The most important driver of engagement in this sector is their connection to the goals, objectives, vision and mission of the organisation.

Why employee engagement?
An engaged workforce could be the difference between a thriving organisation or one that’s not doing so good. It’s also linked to other positive impacts such as:

  • Higher productivity.
  • Increased creativity.
  • Higher levels of employee satisfaction.
  • And reduced turnover rates.

In the non-profit sector, the effects of engaging employees go way beyond the organisation. It also influences the communities they serve. Word and Park (2009) studied the role of employee engagement and motivation in the public and non-profit sector. They found that employees who are more engaged with their work are also likely to be more involved in their local communities.

This suggests that focusing on engagement enhances organisational outcomes as well as the communities they serve.

Tips for engaging employees

Start from the top down:
To promote engagement within an organisation, employers must remember that it’s not just enough to talk about it. They also need to practice what they preach. The single most effective way of promoting engagement is by letting employees see that management is also demonstrating the characteristics and behaviour they’re asking of their employees.

Team events:
We don’t mean pay for employee activities. We mean going along on these activities. Having fun together encourages creativity and collaboration among employees. It also allows them to see you in a different setting, making you more accessible to them.

Sense of purpose:
Apart from pay, a major driver of engagement for the new generation of employees is their sense of purpose. They want to work for organisations that are making a difference to their communities (which is often why they want to work for non-profits in the first place). By recognising individual employee input, they feel they’re contributing to a greater purpose.

The traditional way of working is changing. The new generation of workers are slowly moving away from the classic 9 to 5 working hours to a more flexible approach. By offering the freedom to choose their own working hours and location, they’ll only be working when they’re focused on the tasks ahead. This leads to happier, independent and more engaged staff members.

Work/life balance:
While non-profits may not have the budget to offer as many benefits as their for-profit counterparts, there are other things they can do. By offering sufficient paid time off work, employees able to maintain a life out of work. This reduces the risk of stress and other work-related issues that might arise as a result of an unhealthy balance between their work and personal life.

Communication or the lack thereof can have major ramifications in any organisation. Be sure to communicate any changes to the process, policy or system along with reasons for the change to all employees. This provides them with a feeling for ownership as well as a morale boost. Both of which are essential for their engagement.

There’s a direct correlation between management transparency and employee happiness. An employment engagement survey shows transparency as the leading contributor to employee happiness. There are practically no costs involved with being transparent within a non-profit. All it requires is an ongoing dialogue between management and staff.

Non-profits must understand the importance of employee engagement. A better understanding allows them to create better strategies to engage their employees. This, in turn, reduces turnover rates and employee burnout while creating a more effective organisation.

Employment engagement surveys are a great way to identify areas of concern within an organisation, it also allows you to see what you’re doing right.

Peninsula provide award-winning HR and health & safety support services for small businesses around the world – find out more at

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