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Greenville Business Magazine

Tips for Increasing Employee Engagement

May 12, 2022 04:30PM ● By Donna Isbell Walker

The Great Resignation has employers wondering just what they can do to retain the employees they have and recruit new ones who will be an asset to the company. 

Employee engagement and an inclusive workplace culture are important factors in keeping workers satisfied and not interested in seeing what else is out there, says Dan Kessler, the president and COO of Energage, the organization that surveys employees of many companies and puts together the Top Workplaces survey each year. 

Scoring high on employee engagement not only allows a company to retain more workers, but it also positively affects the bottom line.

Public companies that make the Top Workplaces list typically have triple the S&P 500 performance of their counterparts that don’t make the list, Kessler said.

“Not only is this the right thing to do, but it drives material results,” he said.

Kessler took part in a recent webinar about employee engagement in conjunction with Greenville Society for Human Resource Management.

While many people think that pay and benefits are the primary driver of employee satisfaction, that theory isn’t borne out in surveys, Kessler said.

“Pay and benefits are one of the lowest correlated drivers of employee engagement,” Kessler said. “When you’re talking about candidate experience and recruiting talent, prior to joining an organization, yes, the compensation package is a pretty important consideration. 

“You need to have a compensation package that’s fair and consistent with your approach to the market. But simply paying people more is not the way to drive employee engagement.”

Instead, a supportive, inclusive culture in which employees are respected has a bigger impact on how workers feel about their workplace, he said.

When employees feel that their ideas are taken seriously, and when they feel supported, valued and respected, they have a higher degree of engagement, Kessler said. 

“Being able to grow is being able to reach our potential, however we define it,” he said.

Companies in the Top Workplaces list have an employee engagement rate of 73 percent, compared to 31 percent for companies that didn’t make the list.

Burnout is one of the driving factors of The Great Resignation, Kessler said.

It’s “the No. 1 reason that employees quit,” Kessler said, adding that a survey found that only 64 percent of employees believe that their companies care about whether workers are suffering from burnout.

Poor communication and inefficient meetings are drivers of employee dissatisfaction.

During the pandemic and the beginning of the hybrid work model, in which employees did much of their work from home, things shifted for many workplaces. Video interactions took the place of face-to-face-meetings, and communication styles had to change.

Workers in many industries have become accustomed to the hybrid work model of partly remote and partly on-site work, and businesses need to accept the idea that this way of working “is reality,” Kessler said.

Back in March 2020, when it became clear that Covid-19 was becoming a pandemic, thousands of companies transformed their operations to remote workplaces over the course of a weekend.

“It’s a great reminder of what’s possible,” Kessler said.

Two years later, about 40 percent of companies have returned to a model in which three-quarters of their employees are working in the office all or most of the time.

Industries such as retail, health care, hospitality, and education are leaning toward onsite work, while such industries as advertising, insurance, media, and IT are leaning toward remote work, he said.

When it comes to remote vs. onsite, individuals want to have “control and agency” over how they do their work, Kessler said, and the more choice they feel they have, the more engaged they are with their employer.