If you’re playing along with buzzword bingo, you’ve heard the term “employee engagement.” But it would be a mistake to dismiss it as just a buzzword. Ignoring engagement costs the global economy 8.1 trillion dollars each year, according to a study by Gallup.
Thankfully, the opposite is also true. Improving employee engagement can boost profitability, improve customer satisfaction, and even make for a safer workplace.
Read on to learn what employee engagement is and what factors affect it. Then discover 11 strategies for improving employee engagement at your workplace.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement is the measure of a person’s commitment, involvement, and enthusiasm for their job and workplace. An engaged employee knows how they fit into the company’s plans, and works toward achieving company goals. Put simply, it’s the difference between showing up for work and showing up for a paycheck.
Engagement means that employees:
Know what they contribute toward their team’s success.
Work toward their company’s goals and values.
Are connected to and supported in their role.
Look for ways to learn and grow in their role.
Employee engagement isn’t the same as job satisfaction or employee happiness. Although those ideas are a part of the equation, employee engagement speaks to motivation. An engaged employee invests time, energy, and talent to benefit their team and company.
As Kayla Marchetti – engagement manager for Seismic – puts it, “I want any individual who joins us to feel passionate about our mission and work, to feel a sense of belonging, and to know they have opportunities to grow and develop their career here.”
On the inside, engagement embodies feelings like purpose, trust, and autonomy. On the outside, it looks like a collection of behaviors and attitudes. Let’s take a look at some examples to better understand what these behaviors look like.
Employee Engagement Examples
Employee engagement isn’t a switch that gets turned on or off. It exists on a spectrum from highly engaged, to non-engaged, to actively disengaged. Most employees will fall somewhere in between, and their level of engagement can change over time.
Here are some examples of how engagement can show up. For each example, we’ll also highlight a stat showing how many employees fall within that engagement group, as per the Gallup study we noted in the introduction:
Complains to co-workers (and possibly customers, too)
May damage company culture and office morale
Unwilling to join in social activities
Likely looking for a new job
It may be tempting to think of these behaviors as personality traits, but they may say more about your company culture instead. Even star employees can become disengaged if they don’t have clear expectations and the resources to do their job well.
Why does employee engagement matter?
Studies show that employee engagement leads to an increase in productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction. Engaged employees are happier, healthier, and more likely to stay in their job. High levels of employee engagement have also been linked to lower absenteeism and fewer workplace accidents.
Why is employee engagement important?
“You can have the best services and best team, but if you don’t have engaged and enthused employees it won’t matter,” says Maryanne McWhirter, Sr. Inbound Marketing and Sales Consultant for LeadG2.
There’s no aspect of your business that isn’t affected by employee engagement. Your employees are the engine that makes your business function. And when those employees feel invested and respected, that engine performs at its best.
“The experience an employee has at your company soon translates to employee sentiment, which drives company culture over time. Company culture impacts your employer and consumer brand in a big way, so if we want happy, engaged customers who stay loyal, we have to implement that same strategy with our employees first.” ~ Leanne Poirier, Manager of Internal Communications at ZoomInfo
From sales to service, highly-engaged employees deliver a great customer experience.
Again, Kayla from Seismic tells us “When we do [employee engagement] well, we can attract, develop, and retain the best talent, which means our customers are more likely to be well-served.”
2. 23% Higher Profitability
It makes sense that higher customer loyalty would lead to increased sales and reduced service costs. But highly-engaged employees also reduce costs associated with turnover, absenteeism, and injury.
3. 18% Boost in Productivity
When employees feel connected to their work, they work harder. They’re also more likely to go above and beyond their daily tasks. Engaged employees are more likely to suggest new ideas and innovate new processes.
4. Up to 43% Less Turnover
Highly-engaged employees feel recognized and rewarded. They understand their growth potential and see development opportunities ahead.
On the flip side, the Gallup study also shows that 74% of disengaged employees were actively looking for new employment.
5. 64% Fewer Workplace Accidents
It’s easy to get complacent about routine tasks, which can lead to carelessness. But when employees are engaged they focus on the work they’re doing. They’re also more aware of their surroundings, and more likely to follow safety rules.
6. 81% Lower Absenteeism
Whether because of increased drive or decreased burnout, engaged employees are more likely to show up.
This doesn’t mean normal sick-days or personal time. Absenteeism refers to habitual and intentional unscheduled absences. The kind that, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), reduces productivity by 36.6% as co-workers take on added work.
How to Measure Employee Engagement
Measuring employee engagement can be difficult because it’s a subjective experience. To get a full picture, you need to pay attention to both the quantitative and qualitative signs.
Seek ongoing feedback. Individual conversations are one of the most powerful ways to discover engagement levels. Ask if your employees feel valued. If they understand their growth potential. If they have the resources they need to do their job.
Find your Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). Your eNPS is a great way to get a snapshot of employee sentiment. This is especially helpful when you also give your employees a chance to say why they gave the score they did.
Watch your rates of absenteeism and turnover. Spikes in these metrics are common symptoms of low engagement, and a sure sign something has gone wrong.
Do exit interviews/stay interviews. Exit interviews can be a good source of candid and honest feedback. Just be sure these interviews aren’t the first time you’re asking these kinds of questions.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
Employee engagement should be thought of as an ongoing process, like developing your company culture. Engagement isn’t about ping-pong tables and casual Fridays. There are no quick fixes, so think about the full picture instead.
Marchetti of Seismic, tells us, “Our goal is to create an environment that supports and encourages our people to do their best work every day.”
With that in mind, here are some strategies to consider for improving employee engagement:
1. Start with a plan.
Poirier from Zoominfo suggests, “Taking the time to ask questions like ‘Who is our typical employee? What does their work-life balance look like? What challenges do they face? What do they need and what do they want?’ We know good marketing strategies lead to increased revenue; employee experience works the same way. When companies treat their employees with the same thought and care they do with customers, everybody wins.”
2. Communicate clear expectations.
Engaged employees understand their tasks, responsibilities, and goals. More than that, they understand how those things fit into the wider company goals. That understanding can only come from leadership.
This means holding goal-setting meetings, performance reviews, one-on-ones, and regular, ongoing feedback.
3. Provide the knowledge and tools they need to do their job.
This may seem like common sense to some, but many times employees are only given enough information or resources to do the next task. Sharing knowledge and access empowers employees to contribute beyond their to-do list.
4. Give them trust and autonomy.
Trust and autonomy go hand-in-hand. When employees feel trusted enough to work autonomously, they feel like their skills and contributions are valued. This fosters a sense of responsibility and satisfaction toward their work.
5. Offer ongoing training and development opportunities.
Developing new skills encourages employees to think of their role in terms of a career. Investing in new skill training encourages them to think of that career within your organization.
Workplace training programs help to engage and retain employees. This can take the form of an education stipend, internal training programs, peer-to-peer training, lunch-and-learns, and more.
6. Provide a clear growth path.
Having a roadmap for career growth helps create a sense of purpose at work. Managers should have regular discussions about career goals and development with their employees.
Put another way: believing their pay was determined fairly had a greater impact on employee engagement than being paid more.
8. Start employee recognition programs.
Everyone wants to be recognized when they do good work. Whether it’s a few kind words or a small perk, public recognition can go a long way toward boosting engagement.
Design a program that highlights behaviors that align with your company values. This not only encourages those behaviors but helps to show that your values aren’t just a slogan.
Pro Tip: Rewards can be difficult to coordinate with remote employees. Third-party vendors make it easier to distribute incentives. We like personalized swag from companies like Reachdesk that give a human touch to your gifting. Or virtual gift cards from services like Rybbon, because cash is always a welcome bonus.
9. Start peer recognition programs.
Peer recognition programs are a great way to create a sense of community and collaboration. They also help to celebrate successes that may otherwise go unseen by management.
One lightweight solution is to make an outlet for public kudos. Matthew Stibbe, CEO of Articulate Marketing suggests, “Set up a ‘validation channel’ in Slack or Teams and encourage your colleagues to use it to recognise great work across the business. Peer and manager recognition can be very motivating.”
You can also give your employees the power of perks. At HubSpot, each employee has a quarterly opportunity to nominate a teammate that’s helped them in some way. The nominated employee gets a monetary bonus and the knowledge that their help was valued.
10. Create social outlets.
62% of employees with one to five work friends would reject an outside offer, according to SHRM’s Workforce study. Creating a sense of community and belonging is a powerful driver of engagement.
It’s even more important for remote employees who may not have daily positive interactions with co-workers.
“In the remote world we’re living in, a great way to create the employee experience is through building a virtual community and destination for the employee base. Company intranets are often outdated and overlooked, but when given the right resources, they’re an exceptional tool for employee connection and helping your employee engagement program reach its potential,” adds Leane Poirier from ZoomInfo.
Here are a few ideas for virtual socialization to get you started:
Shared virtual activities. Think wine-and-design, book clubs, or even Dungeons and Dragons.
Optional drop-in “water cooler” meetings. No talking about work allowed.
Slack channels dedicated to shared interests. HubSpot has hundreds of Slack channels, for everything from pet pictures to true crime podcasts.
Just be sure to make these activities optional. Nothing ruins the mood like mandatory fun.
11. Seek ongoing feedback.
Communication should be a two-way street. Listening to your employees– and then acting on that feedback– makes them more likely to contribute.
Upward reviews, employee surveys, and feedback discussions should be regular features. Be receptive to, and transparent about, the feedback you receive.
Again, be sure to act on it. Few things destroy employee engagement faster than making them feel ignored.
12. Prove It.
Any company can say they live their values, but can they prove it? Outside frameworks like B corp certification or ‘Investors in People’ accreditation show where your priorities are.
Stibbe from Articulate Marketing points out, “The best people want to work in companies that reflect their own values and priorities. If you want to engage employees, you need to show them what you believe in. Words matter. Commitment is important. But in our experience, externally-audited standards such as B Corp and Investors in People are essential to set objective standards and demonstrate our progress towards them. It’s not just words. It’s proof.”
There’s a lot to consider here, but you don’t have to do it all on day one. Choose a few strategies and commit to taking action. Be upfront with your employees about your engagement goals, and then share the progress you’re making.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.
The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.
Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.
In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.
Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.
The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.
Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.
He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.
Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.
Happy customers love to share their experience, but sometimes they need some encouragement to do so. The cool thing is, once they do, they become even more loyal to your brand.
So, at this stage of the Customer Value Journey, ask people to share their positive experience with your brand by writing a review or sharing a social media post.
Once you get to stage seven, the Customer Value Journey is going to get a whole lot easier for you. This stage is all about learning your customer’s experience, and building up your testimonial database.
The most important part of this step is asking these four questions.
What Was Your Life Like Before Finding Our Solutions? What Challenges Were You Facing That Caused You to Consider Us?
These questions are great not only because it gives you some really good stories, but because it gives you some insight on how you can provide similar prospects with that AHA moment. Understanding the average day of your clients is important in reflecting on your Customer Value Journey, and helps you understand what really set you apart from your competitors.
What Key Features Had the Biggest and/or Fastest Impact?
Not only is this going to get you to really specific stories, you will understand the specific things you provided that gave the biggest impact. The answers to these questions will not only give you great insight and testimonials, it will provide you with ideas for new lead magnets. This part is a new Entry Point Offer goldmine!
What Has Been the Impact or Results in Your Life or Business Since Using Our Product or Service?
This is a fairly broad question, and that’s why we put it after the others. You will have already gotten all of the specifics out of the way with #1 & #2. But when you ask this question, this is where you get the most valuable stories. You can use this part as testimonials, as an order form, as a sales page, this part is testimonial gold.
If You Were Asked to Justify this Purchase to Your Boss or a Friend, What Would You Say?
This is our favorite question by far. If you had to go back in time and justify this purchase, what would you say? I promise you what we’re going to find is a lot of great ideas for the jobs that your product or service has done. You’ll get a lot of great ideas for your core message canvas. This question is about backfilling all of the assets that you may not have. Here you’re going directly to the customer who are already happy, and using their justifications to help you sell to new customers.
Hopefully you now understand just how valuable the Advocate stage could be, as well as the key questions you need to ask to get your customers talking. Here’s how it works for our example companies.
When it comes to fashion we all love to show off our outfits. So a good example for Hazel & Hems would be to have customers write reviews for a discount code or points towards their next purchase.
Better yet, follow up with the customers to ask them to share and tag themselves wearing the items in a social media post and providing them with something valuable as a reward.
For Cyrus & Clark Media, hopping on zoom meetings or a streaming service for live talks about them and their business could generate valuable awareness for them, and a live case study for the agency. They can use the questions Ryan provided during this lesson to conduct the interview.
Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.
Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.
What are Instacart Promotions?
Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.
“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”
– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart
How Do Instacart Promotions Work?
Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.
Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”).
According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”
Instacart Promotions Benefits
Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers
With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.
Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.
Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives
With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives.
Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns.
Access Real-Time Performance Insights
The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.
Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.
“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”
– Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti
Interested in Instacart Promotions?
With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.