Workplace Engagement

How Employee Engagement Drives Growth


In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to shut down or drastically reduce their operations, Target grew its business. It increased its profitability thanks in part to its highly engaged workforce.

According to Target’s CEO Brian Cornell, the company’s success during the pandemic was primarily due to its employees’ commitment to serving customers and keeping the stores running smoothly. In an interview with CNBC, Cornell praised the efforts of Target’s employees, saying that they had gone “above and beyond” to ensure that customers could get the products they needed during a difficult time.

“When engaged, employees are more committed, productive, and likely to stay with the company. This leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction, greater profitability, and sustained growth.” – A.G. Lafley, former CEO of Procter & Gamble

Importance of Employee Engagement in Business Growth

Employee engagement can be a powerful driver of growth for any business. When employees are engaged, they are more committed to their work, more productive, and more likely to go above and beyond to achieve company goals. This can increase customer satisfaction, improve financial performance, and a more substantial overall reputation.

Many factors contribute to employee engagement, including positive work culture, opportunities for growth and development, clear communication from leadership, and recognition for hard work and achievement. By investing in these areas, companies can create an environment that fosters engagement and encourages employees to succeed.

A 2021 study by Gallup found that companies with highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable than those with low levels of engagement. Additionally, companies with high engagement levels have 41% lower absenteeism and 59% lower turnover.

Workforce Engagement at Target

Another key factor in Target’s success was its decision to provide hazard pay and other incentives to employees working on the front lines during the pandemic. This helped to ensure that employees felt valued and supported and motivated them to continue delivering high-quality service to customers.

Target also invested in several technologies and infrastructure investments to support its employees, including implementing contactless checkout and curbside pickup and expanding its delivery and pickup options. These investments helped improve the customer experience and reduce the workload on employees, contributing to their engagement and motivation.

Overall, the example of Target demonstrates how a highly engaged workforce can help organizations to weather difficult times and drive growth and success over the long term. Organizations can build a culture of engagement that supports growth and success despite significant challenges by prioritizing employee engagement and supporting their employees’ well-being and success.

Engagement stimulates the release of dopamine: The neurotransmitter dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. When employees are engaged and motivated, their brains release dopamine, reinforcing the behavior that led to the engagement. This positive reinforcement can lead to increased levels of engagement over time, which can, in turn, drive growth and success.

A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Business and Management found a positive relationship between employee engagement and financial performance in the hospitality industry. The study found that higher levels of employee engagement were associated with higher revenue per available room and higher guest satisfaction scores.

Employee Engagement: A Key Driver of Business Growth

Another example of how employee engagement can drive growth is the story of Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer known for its exceptional customer service and company culture. Zappos has consistently ranked as one of the best places to work and has attributed much of its success to its focus on employee engagement.

At Zappos, employee engagement is a core value integrated into all aspects of the organization. The company offers a range of benefits and perks designed to support employee well-being and engagement, including on-site wellness programs, free food and drinks, and generous vacation policies. Zappos also provides opportunities for employees to participate in community service projects and other activities outside of work, which can help to foster a sense of purpose and connection.

This focus on employee engagement has paid off for Zappos in many ways. The company has grown its revenue and expanded into new markets and product categories. Additionally, Zappos has maintained high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, with many customers citing the exceptional service they have received from Zappos employees as a critical factor in their commitment to the brand.

Benefits of Employee Engagement on Business Growth

There are many benefits associated with the idea that employee engagement drives growth. Here are five key benefits:

  1. Increased productivity: Engaged employees are more productive than disengaged employees. They are more focused and committed and will put in extra effort to help the organization succeed.
  2. Higher employee retention: Engaged employees are more likely to stay in their jobs than disengaged employees. This reduces turnover costs and helps organizations retain their top talent.
  3. Improved customer satisfaction: Engaged employees provide better customer service, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  4. Greater innovation and creativity: Engaged employees are more likely to be creative and innovative, which can help organizations develop new products, services, and processes that drive growth.
  5. Enhanced reputation and brand image: Organizations prioritizing employee engagement are seen as more attractive workplaces and are often viewed favorably by customers, investors, and other stakeholders. This can help to enhance the organization’s reputation and brand image, which can, in turn, drive growth.

By focusing on employee engagement as a critical driver of growth, organizations can reap these and other benefits while building a culture that supports and motivates their employees.

Ways to Improve Employee Engagement for Business Growth

Here is an activity or exercise that organizations can use to improve employee engagement and drive growth:

“Visioning Session”: A visioning session is a group exercise that encourages employees to think about the future of the organization and their role in driving growth and success. The session can be conducted in a team meeting or retreat and involve employees from all levels of the organization.

Here are the steps to conduct a visioning session:

  1. Start with a question: Begin by asking employees to think about the organization’s future. For example, “What would the ideal future of our organization look like?” or “How can we work together to achieve our growth goals?”
  2. Brainstorm ideas: Ask employees to brainstorm ideas and solutions to the question or prompt. Please encourage them to think creatively and share their ideas freely.
  3. Prioritize ideas: Once the brainstorming session is complete, have employees work together to prioritize the ideas based on their feasibility and potential impact on growth and success.
  4. Develop action steps: Once the ideas have been prioritized, work with employees to develop action steps that can be taken to turn the ideas into reality. Assign specific tasks to team members and set deadlines for completion.
  5. Follow up: Check in regularly with the team to monitor progress and provide support as needed. Celebrate successes and acknowledge challenges along the way.

This activity can be a powerful way to engage employees and encourage them to take ownership of their role in driving growth and success for the organization. By working together to develop a shared vision and action plan, employees feel more connected to the organization’s mission and goals and more motivated to contribute their best work.

Ultimately, while engagement is essential for driving growth, it should be considered an integral part of creating a healthy, thriving organization that values and supports its employees. Organizations that prioritize engagement for its own sake rather than as a means to an end will likely benefit employee satisfaction and overall performance.

Workplace Engagement

What Does Workplace Engagement Mean?


Why is Workplace Engagement Important?

A growing body of research suggests a strong link between workplace engagement and business outcomes. Here are a few examples:

  1. A meta-analysis of 263 studies conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that companies with high levels of employee engagement had lower rates of absenteeism and turnover, higher customer satisfaction, and higher profitability.
  2. A study by Towers Watson found that companies with high levels of employee engagement had a total shareholder return that was 19% higher than those with low engagement.

These studies suggest a clear business case for investing in employee engagement. Engaged employees are more productive, less likely to leave their jobs, and contribute to higher profitability and shareholder value. Organizations can build a workplace where employees are valued, supported, and motivated to perform at their best by creating a culture of engagement and investing in employee well-being.

What is workplace engagement?

Workplace engagement refers to employees’ emotional commitment and involvement toward their work and their organization. Engaged employees are passionate about their jobs, take pride in their work, and are committed to achieving the organization’s goals. They go above and beyond their job responsibilities, take initiative, and are more likely to stay with the company long-term.

Engagement is not the same as job satisfaction, a more fleeting emotion. An employee can be happy with their job but still not fully committed or invested in the organization’s success. On the other hand, engaged employees have a deep emotional connection with their work, co-workers, and the organization as a whole.

A study by Gallup found that organizations with high levels of employee engagement had 21% higher profitability than those with low levels of engagement. And a study by the Queen’s School of Business found that engaged employees were 16% more productive than disengaged employees.

A workplace with high levels of engagement typically has a positive work culture and a supportive work environment. Managers and leaders are transparent and communicate effectively with their employees, and there are opportunities for growth and development. Engaged employees are recognized and rewarded for their contributions, which fosters a sense of appreciation and value.

On the other hand, a workplace with low levels of engagement is often characterized by high turnover rates, absenteeism, and low productivity. Employees may feel disconnected from their work, disengaged from their colleagues, and unsupported by management. In such environments, there may be a lack of trust between employees and management and little opportunity for growth or development.

The Kenexa High-Performance Institute conducted a study that found that engaged employees were 87% less likely to leave their jobs than disengaged employees. Improving workplace engagement requires a concerted effort from management and leadership. Organizations can implement policies and programs that promote employee well-being and work-life balance, offer career development opportunities and encourage open communication and feedback. Additionally, recognition and rewards programs can help to incentivize and motivate employees to perform at their best.

An example of Workplace engagement in action

One example of workplace engagement in action is the case of Zappos, the online shoe and clothing retailer. Zappos has a strong company culture that prioritizes employee engagement and well-being, and it has been recognized as one of the best places to work in the US.

One of the ways Zappos promotes engagement is through its onboarding process. New employees go through an intensive four-week training program that includes job-specific training and cultural immersion. They learn about the company’s history, values, and mission and can interact with senior leaders and other employees.

Zappos also encourages employee autonomy and creativity. Employees are free to make decisions and solve problems on their own without going through layers of bureaucracy. They are encouraged to innovate and experiment and recognized and rewarded for their contributions.

Another way Zappos promotes engagement is through its recognition and rewards programs. The company has a “Zollar” program, a type of currency that employees can earn by going above and beyond their job responsibilities or providing excellent customer service. Zollars can be redeemed for various rewards, including gift cards, travel vouchers, and the opportunity to attend a music festival.

Finally, Zappos fosters a sense of community and camaraderie among its employees. The company hosts regular events and activities, both in-person and virtual, that allow employees to bond and have fun together. For example, Zappos has a company-wide fitness challenge where employees compete against each other to achieve fitness goals and win prizes.

As a result of these efforts, Zappos has a highly engaged workforce. Its employees are passionate about their jobs, committed to the company’s mission, and supportive of one another. This engagement has translated into solid business results, including high customer satisfaction, low turnover rates, and strong financial performance.

An exercise to teach and create workplace engagement

One exercise for teaching workplace engagement is a “Values Exploration” activity. Here are the steps to conduct this exercise:

  1. Begin by asking participants to identify their values. Please provide a list of values, or have them brainstorm their own. Deals could include things like honesty, creativity, innovation, teamwork, etc.
  2. Once participants have identified their values, ask them to think about how these values align with the organization’s values. Please provide a list of the organization’s values, or have participants research and identify them independently.
  3. Have participants discuss with a partner or small group how their values align with the organization’s values. They can share examples of how they have demonstrated these values in their work.
  4. As a group, discuss the importance of value alignment in the workplace. Talk about how employees aligned with the organization’s values are likelier to be engaged and committed to their work.
  5. Finally, have participants brainstorm ways in which they can incorporate their values into their work and contribute to a culture of engagement. Please encourage them to set personal goals for how they can demonstrate their values in their work.

This exercise helps employees understand the importance of aligning personal and organizational values and how doing so can contribute to workplace engagement. It also allows employees to reflect on their values and how they can bring them to their work.

Here are some suggested action steps to improve workplace engagement:

  1. Foster a Positive Workplace Culture: A positive workplace culture is critical to employee engagement. This includes things like open communication, opportunities for growth and development, a supportive work environment, and a sense of community and collaboration.
  2. Communicate Effectively: Communication is crucial to employee engagement. Leaders and managers should communicate regularly and clearly with employees, providing feedback, recognition, and opportunities for input.
  3. Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development: Providing opportunities for employees to learn and grow is essential for engagement. This includes offering training and development programs, mentorship opportunities, and career advancement paths.
  4. Recognize and Reward Contributions: Recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions is essential for engagement. This can be done through formal recognition programs, such as employee of the month or year, or through informal recognition, such as thanking employees for their hard work.
  5. Promote Work-Life Balance: Work-life balance is essential for employee well-being and engagement. Providing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, can help employees balance their work and personal responsibilities.
  6. Encourage Employee Autonomy and Creativity: Giving employees autonomy and encouraging creativity can help foster engagement. Employees should be given the freedom to make decisions and solve problems independently without going through layers of bureaucracy.
  7. Measure and Monitor Engagement: Measuring and monitoring employee engagement is essential for identifying areas for improvement. This can be done through surveys, focus groups, or other methods of collecting feedback from employees.

Workplace engagement is essential for creating a positive and productive work environment. Engaged employees are more committed, effective, and loyal, benefiting the organization’s bottom line.