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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Improved customer satisfaction: Engaged employees provide better customer service, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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?”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.