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Why employee engagement is the standout business priority

A key part of having a strong, resilient and successful business is having an engaged workforce. However, research shows that just 15% of the global workforce are engaged. With the pandemic emphasising just how important it is for businesses to look after their employees, it’s time for employee engagement to become a priority. Here’s why.

Employee engagement has been a popular concept for a number of years now. Many businesses of different sizes, from different sectors have invested and will continue to invest time and money into various tools and activities to drive employee engagement.  (Find out more about what employee engagement is here).

Despite this, the majority of people are not engaged at work. According to Gallup, just 15% of the global workforce are engaged. In fact, 67% of employees are not engaged and 18% are actively disengaged.

These alarming statistics demonstrate that so much more needs to be done to make workers’ lives more enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding. Facing a global pandemic has shown us just how important it is for businesses to look after their employees, so now more than ever it’s time for businesses to step up and make employee engagement a priority.

The benefits of an engaged workforce

A key part of having a strong, resilient and successful business is having an engaged workforce. We say it all the time – it’s all about the people. When employees are engaged, they’re more inspired, creative, motivated and, in general, better at what they do. They’re also committed to their business’ goals, values and have a genuine enthusiasm for driving their business forward in their individual role.

Here are some of the key ways in which your business will benefit from having an engaged workforce.

Happier customers

It’s often said that happy employees lead to happy customers, but research actually backs this up and demonstrates that there is a direct correlation between engaged employees and the satisfaction of customers.


Engaged employees care about their jobs and the business that they’re working for. They understand how their efforts make a contribution to the business and take pride in what they do. As a result, they’re more likely to have extensive product/service knowledge and go the extra mile in their day-to-day tasks. This often translates into the delivery of excellent customer service.

When your employees give customers a great experience, not only does it increase customers’ chances of coming back, but it can also boost your business’ reputation and therefore attract more customers too. So, by prioritising employee engagement you’ll not only improve the experience of your workforce, you’ll more than likely enhance your customer experience too.

Lower turnover

When employees are engaged, they’re more likely to stick around and be loyal to their employer. Disengaged employees on the other hand will either be actively looking for a new job or keeping an eye on the job market, which isn’t good news for a number of reasons.

Firstly, replacing employees is very costly, in fact, research has shown that it costs around £11,000 to replace one employee based on the average UK salary.[1] You then also have to factor in the productivity that’s lost as a result of training up a new employee. Secondly, a high turnover rate is a major red flag for potential employees.

The good news is that this scenario, in many cases, can be avoided if you put time and effort into ensuring that your workforce is happy, fulfilled and engaged at work. By taking steps to improve employee engagement, your employees are less likely to think that the grass is greener elsewhere and as a result your business can expect to improve your employee turnover rate.

Increased productivity

Whether an employee is spending their time looking for a new job or not, if they’re disengaged their heart simply won’t be in the job. They won’t have the desire to work hard or be productive. As a result, disengaged employees could be having a negative impact on your business’ bottom line.

Research by the Centre for Mental Health found that presenteeism and disengagement cost UK businesses £15 billion a year. Other research suggests that this figure is a lot higher with a staggering £52-70 billion reportedly lost in productivity each year.

With more people working from home and therefore having greater autonomy over their working days, it’s even more crucial for businesses to do all they can to ensure their team are motivated and productive. Employee engagement plays a key part because highly engaged workforces tend to be highly productive. This is because engaged employees tend to have a greater sense of meaning and purpose at work. They understand why their individual actions are important and how they contribute to their business’ goals. With that in mind, they’re far more motivated to give their best every day and be productive with their time. So, by focusing your efforts on employee engagement, you’ll benefit from a more motivated and productive workforce.

Lower absenteeism

Absenteeism is expected in any business and often unavoidable as employees get sick from time to time. However, high levels of absence or an employee being repeatedly absent is not only a costly problem, but one that can also have an impact on your culture and the morale of employees that have work extra hard to make up for absent colleagues. High absenteeism is also a sign of disengagement. Individuals that are demotivated and disengaged are likely to take more time off work simply because they don’t want to be there. They’ve got less interest in their job and have mentally checked out.

By focusing on the engagement of your workforce then, you can limit the number of avoidable absences by making sure your employees feel motivated and enthusiastic at work.  Research by Gallup supports this, showing that businesses with high employee engagement have 41% lower absenteeism. When employees are engaged, they simply have more drive to get out of bed every morning and go to work. They care about showing up and making a difference. On top of that, they also care about letting people down by not turning up. So, by improving engagement across your workforce, you can lower absenteeism.

Better employee wellbeing

Another benefit of your business prioritising employee engagement is that you’ll support and even improve your employees’ wellbeing too. Employee engagement and employee wellbeing are closely linked, and research has even found that there’s a correlation between the two. In fact, a key part of driving employee engagement is supporting your team’s health and happiness both inside and outside of work.

Engage for Success found that engaged employees with high wellbeing were 35% more attached to their organisation than those with lower wellbeing. On top of that, research conducted by Gallup found that engaged employees were more than three times as likely to be thriving in their overall lives compared to those who were actively disengaged.

In essence, taking steps to improve the engagement of your workforce will have a positive effect on their wellbeing too. After all, we spend so much of our lives at work so if your employees feel motivated, passionate and engaged, they’ll likely feel more positive, confident and fulfilled in life which is great for their wellbeing. It’s not just about the emotional and mental side of things either. For example, you can support your employees’ physical and financial wellbeing through the benefits you offer whether that’s access to a 24/7 GP Helpline or shopping discounts.


[1] Account & Legal 2018

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