If your employees are not happy and engaged, good luck with positioning your organisation as an employer of choice and a great place to work. You can have a beautiful building, it means nothing if the people within it aren’t positively engaged in your culture, values and purpose.
This article isn’t about how to engage your people – that’s a whole topic by itself. But we will cover what engagement means and why it matters. This is about showing how it impacts on perceptions of your employer brand, and what good employee engagement looks like in your authentic employer brand communications and content.
What is employee engagement?
A phrase you hear a lot around employee engagement is ‘going the extra mile’. It’s that discretionary effort, an emotional ‘buy in’ to achieving the organisation’s goals. There’s often something about the leadership, culture and the way values are lived in engaging organisations that makes employees want to give more time, energy and commitment. And this is all feeds into perceptions of your employer brand.
And why does it matter?
Just as you have an employer brand whether you like it or not, the same applies to employee engagement. It’s just a case of how high the levels are that determines whether your people are engaged – or disengaged.
Broken promises, a disconnect with values and a lack of employee ‘voice’ – these are often cited as reasons why people become disengaged. Unfortunately, thanks to LinkedIn, Glassdoor and other sites, low levels of engagement are very difficult to contain. The upside is that these sites can also communicate positive stories and evidence of good engagement.
Engaged employees make great advocates for the employer brand. They are more likely to share their positive experiences which helps recruitment. And candidates tend to trust others they perceive to be like them. In fact, research by the Edelman Trust found that employee voice is three times more credible that that of the CEO when discussing what it’s like to work for an organisation.
How can we identify employee engagement?
Employee engagement is a speciality discipline within the world of HR and people. It has its own framework, the ‘Four Enablers of Employee Engagement’ that’s supported by the CIPD and ACAS, no less.
The ‘Four Enablers’ look at many of the key elements needed to create a culture that fosters engagement. It’s easy to see how negatives in any of these areas would dampen levels of engagement – and therefore also be damaging to perceptions of the employer brand.
- Strategic narrative – Is there empowering leadership providing a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going?
- Engaging and motivating managers – Do they give their people focus and scope while treating them as individuals? Can they stretch and coach them to their goals?
- Employee voice – Are people encouraged to challenge and ask questions – both between functions and externally? Do the employees feel that their opinions really count?
- Organisational integrity – Are the ‘values on the wall’ reflected in day to day behaviours? Are the expected behaviours explicit, understood and bought into? Is there a culture of high trust?
This is all very logical – but there’s also a problem. For all the benefits that employee engagement brings, the actual levels aren’t currently that high.
A warning shot to employers
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce 2023, only 13% of Europe’s workforce feel engaged. 72% are not engaged and 15% are actively disengaged due to issues like ‘quiet quitting’ and losing touch with colleagues and the purpose of their roles since the pandemic.
These numbers serve as a warning shot to employers and remind them that, what they think engages their employees may well have changed over the past few years. It may well be timely to review the EVP and employer brand to reset your employee deal – and in turn help increase engagement levels. We’ve written an article all about how to do this. ‘10 things to consider when refreshing your employer brand.’
Benefits of employee engagement – in numbers
It’s definitely worth focusing on boosting employee engagement as these stats suggest. According to research, positive employee engagement can bring:
- 23% higher profits in companies with engaged employees than those with workers who feel miserable. (Gallup)
- 5 times the revenuefor organisations that achieve the highest rates of employee engagement – compared to those with the lowest. (Hay Group)
- 10% higher customer ratings and18% higher revenue. (Gallup)
- 41% lower absenteeism in companies with higher employee engagement. (Gallup)
- Highly engaged companies benefit from10% higher customer ratings and 18% higher revenue. (Gallup)
Where employee engagement supports the employer brand
So, how can your employer brand communicate positive employee engagement? We’ll use the ‘Four Enablers’ as a reference point here. As the embodiment of good engagement, it’s a good plan to showcase them in your employer branding comms.
Leadership presence and strategic narrative
Visible leaders have an impact on employee engagement and the employer brand. We’d say Sir Richard Branson would be a good example of someone promoting the values of the organisation and putting people very much at the centre of the Virgin strategy. He contributes to the Virgin blog, is passionate about people and is highly visible on Linked – although we suspect he might have a little help. The late Anita Roddick of Body Shop provided a strong narrative to the sustainable objectives of her company, long before we’d heard of sustainability and B-Corp status. Authenticity is key to any leadership involvement in employer brand messaging, especially at a time when many are re-evaluating what they want from the career and employer. So, if they get involved, they have to follow through on what they promise.
We’ve already covered how important your people are when it comes to building trust with potential candidates. That’s why their thoughts on your culture, and the way they are developed and managed is so important. The content on your careers website and blog should show the projects that have engaged them, the way their ideas have been embraced and the projects that have enabled them to make a difference and why. For examples of how we’ve helped our clients to do this, take a look at these case studies:
Miele X – the people in the digital centre of excellence of this iconic brand have a great employee engagement story to tell. That’s why we’ve put them, and their stories, at the centre of their new careers website.
NFU Mutual – you can’t have a business that’s guided by mutual values unless their people feel engaged and aligned with those values. And that’s exactly the story here with the NFU Mutual pricing team. We researched internally to find out what it was from their development opportunities, variety of work, culture, leadership that engaged and motivated them. The insight has since been used in videos, blogs and on LinkedIn. Here’s the story of their Pricing Recruitment Campaign.
The power of film
Film is a creative way to show employee engagement. You really can’t fake someone enjoying their work, candidates would see through it in a nano second. Film enables us to tell the story of people and the impact that their work has on them and the world around them. It’s about showing how people are valued and in turn the value in the work that they do. It is why film plays such an integral role in employer branding.
Deichmann UK – is a lovely case study demonstrating how effective film can be in telling a retailer’s employer story.
Employee engagement comes from positive buy-in to what it’s like to work for you. It’s a vote of confidence in your culture, values, the way the organisation is led and the delivery of an employee experience that delivers on the promise made in your EVP and employer brand. And this alone is why any organisation will struggle to promote a strong employer brand without good levels of employee engagement. You can’t have one without the other.
Need a little help?
If you feel that you’d like some help, support or even a little chat around LinkedIn or any aspect of your employer brand and talent attraction strategy just drop us a line. After all, much of our best work has started with a cup of tea and a Zoom call.