How to Identify Engaged Workers and Increase Employee Engagement

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    Engaged employees receive recognition often, work happily with a committed team, and see their co-workers as friends. Sounds like a pretty ideal state, right? And with over 100 studies indicating that employee engagement has a positive impact on work performance, it would be hard for business leaders to argue that it’s not worthwhile to keep their employees engaged and motivated.

    So why do less than half of American employees across all demographics feel engaged at work? Clearly something needs to change.

    In the infographic below, we look at different demographic breakdowns of engaged employees and offer some ideas to help you increase employee engagement in your workplace.

    Engaged Employees by the Numbers

    About a third of the youngest employees (ages 18-29) report that they feel engaged at work. That number dips to 28 percent for employees ages 30-64. Interestingly, employee engagement increases to 44 percent for people over the age of 65 who are still working.

    The levels of employee engagement by gender are relatively close: 27 percent of men and 33 percent of women say they are engaged with their work.

    When looking at employee engagement by education level, the most engaged employees are those who have a high school education or less, with 34 percent reporting they feel involved in their work. Only 27 percent of those who have attended a technical/vocational school or some college, as well as those who have attended graduate school, say they feel engaged at work. 28 percent of college graduates are engaged.

    Research suggests that income doesn’t have much of an impact on feelings of engagement. 30 percent of workers who earn less than $36k and workers who earn more than $90k feel engaged, as opposed to 28 percent of workers who earn between $36 and $89k.

    How Do You Identify an Engaged Employee?

    Employees who feel engaged at work often feel like they have a support network of supervisors and co-workers. They are likely to say there is at least one person at work who encourages their professional development and seems to care about them as a person. They will typically talk to someone, such as a direct manager or mentor, about their progress at the company.

    Engaged employees also feel that their work is meaningful and that their achievements are recognized by their co-workers. They will likely agree with the statements “my opinions seem to count” and “I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.” They see how their role fits with the company mission, and they feel that they know what is expected of them at work.

    How Do You Increase Employee Engagement?

    The first step to increase employee engagement at your company is to start talking about it. Bring up the issue of engagement in a company-wide meeting and ask employees what they think is working well and what could be changed to make them feel more involved.

    If your company is too big to gather everyone in one room, or if you believe some employees may feel uncomfortable talking about engagement strategies in a group, consider sending out a survey. Try using a Likert scale and have employees respond to statements like “This last year, I have had opportunities to learn and grow at work.” Include space on the survey for employees to provide recommendations to the company for increasing engagement.

    You should also identify leaders within your organization who are allies in encouraging engagement. Make sure they have opportunities to actively engage others and improve the company culture.

    Don’t settle for engagement rates below 50 percent: start taking steps now to make sure that as many employees as possible feel that their work is meaningful.

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