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5 Min Read

What is the Meaning of “Engaged” in the Workplace?

Claire Beveridge

Employee engagement is more than a vague concept. How an employee experiences a company has a tangible and measurable impact on workplace culture, recruitment, and business performance. 

When an employee is actively engaged with a business—everybody wins. The employee feels motivated and like they belong, and the company increases productivity and profitability. 

But what does it mean to be engaged in the workplace?

The Three Levels of Engagement at Work

Every employee behaves differently. Some are naturally more engaged than others—and that’s okay! Not everyone will want to join the company lunch and learn or team outing. 

What’s important is recognizing the three different levels of engagement, understanding how they impact business performance, and differentiating engaged employees from disengaged ones. Let’s take a look. 

Actively Engaged

  • Participates in all or many aspects of company culture
  • Goes above and beyond in their day-to-day activities
  • Encourages collaboration
  • Continuous, open learner
  • Extremely dedicated to their role

Employees who show high levels of engagement are committed, proactive, collaborative, and positively impact the overall work environment while contributing to company goals and business success. 

Not Engaged 

  • Shows little enthusiasm for role or responsibilities 
  • Doesn’t contribute meaningful ideas or feedback
  • Rarely takes on additional tasks
  • Rarely participates in team discussions 
  • Disinterested in company goals 

Employees who struggle with workplace engagement are often accused of clock-watching, leaving promptly, and doing the bare minimum required in their role. The business impact is productivity decreases, work quality suffers, and turnover skyrockets while creating a hostile workplace culture and environment.

Actively Disengaged

  • Negative outlook, openly critical of company decisions
  • Consistently absent, takes unscheduled leave
  • Fails to complete tasks on time or misses deadlines
  • Avoids additional responsibilities
  • Doesn’t participate in company culture

Not only do actively disengaged employees lack motivation, they negatively impact the morale and performance of their colleagues. Businesses must identify actively disengaged employees to prevent disengagement from spreading and further disrupting business performance. 

5 Reasons Businesses Need an Actively Engaged Workforce 

For a business to thrive, teams need to be made up of actively engaged workers. Here’s why. 

1. Improves productivity and performance

Actively engaged employees are highly motivated and committed to their role and the company. They’re extremely focused, productive, and efficient, and their work directly contributes to the overall business results and company culture.

2. Increases stakeholder and customer satisfaction

Because actively engaged employees have a positive, can-do attitude, their cheerful disposition improves interpersonal relationships with internal stakeholders and external customers. This leads to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty, and supports building stakeholder relationships.

3. Enhances creativity and innovation

Highly engaged employees are more likely to contribute innovative ideas and solutions. When employees feel valued and empowered, they’re willing to share insights and collaborate with colleagues, leading to a culture of innovation and creativity. 

4. Higher employee retention and decreased absenteeism

When employees are actively engaged, this makes the company more attractive to outside talent while decreasing internal absenteeism—why would an employee skip work if they’re engaged with their job? 

To retain top talent, businesses must also create an engaging work environment. Otherwise, high-performing employees will leave for more fulfilling roles elsewhere. 

5. Improves company culture

When an employee is enthusiastic about their work, this helps build company culture and a sense of belonging in the workplace. A positive outlook and attitude are infectious, and an actively engaged employee will influence coworkers, contributing to a values-first and culturally thriving work environment.

How to Create a Workforce of Actively Engaged Employees

Building a culture of highly engaged employees is no easy task. Gallup reports that only 23% of employees are engaged in the workplace, so leaders have their work cut out. But focusing on performance management can help. 

Hold regular one-on-ones

One-on-ones are an integral part of employee engagement. Leaders show employees they’re valued and their contributions matter by providing uninterrupted, scheduled time to connect on work, blockers, and professional development. 

Regular one-on-ones are also the perfect opportunity to deliver feedback that supports employee development, problem-solve to prevent issues from escalating, and allow for open communication in a safe space to share thoughts, ideas, and concerns—all impacting employee engagement. 

If you need more guidance on how to hold effective conversations, follow this one-to-one meeting template

Conduct employee engagement surveys

Employee engagement surveys quantifiably measure employee engagement levels and give insights into how employees feel about their work, team, and organization. Businesses create a more productive, motivated, and engaged workforce by taking a data-driven approach to understanding and improving employee engagement. 

Survey results also help inform decisions about training, development, upskilling, and reskilling, helping ensure employees are fully engaged and equipped to excel in the workplace. 

Show employee recognition

Performance reviews are more than just a once-a-year thing. To build a team of actively engaged employees, businesses need to hold regular review cycles that provide actionable takeaways for the employee while also focusing on employee recognition. 

Recognizing the efforts and contributions of an employee increases motivation, boosts morale, increases job satisfaction, strengthens company ties, increases employee loyalty, and leads to improved performance. 

Focus on employee wellbeing

Invest in employee wellbeing programs and initiatives to show employee commitment. For example, provide comprehensive benefits, mental health support, employee assistance programs (EAPs), and professional development opportunities to help reduce stress and improve life outside of work for employees. 

Additionally, allowing employees to access remote or hybrid options is a surefire way to improve employee engagement. Who wouldn’t want to save 72 minutes per day

The future of employee engagement is performance management. By developing relationships through regular meetings, providing constructive, actionable feedback, and recognizing employee contributions, businesses build a strong team of engaged employees. 

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