In the past, as we conducted workshops on employee engagement, we found that we needed to show the organization the benefits of an engaged workforce. Increased profitability, improved quality, reduced turnover, and many other benefits were an important part of our presentations.
Over the past several years, however, it’s apparent that the message—employee engagement increases organization performance—has sunk in. Organizations are now coming to us with their own stories of how improved engagement has impacted their bottom line.
So, what about the personal benefits of employee engagement? Clearly the organization benefits, but what about the individual? What’s in it for me? As an employee, why would l care about being more engaged if it only means I have to work harder and the company reaps all of the rewards?
Fortunately, employee engagement is a win-win for the both the employee and employer. Here are a few reasons why we, as employees, should choose to be engaged in our work.
- Safety: Research show that engaged employees have a decreased chance of experiencing an accident at work. Engaged employees at MolsonCoors were five times less likely than non-engaged employees to have a safety incident and seven times less likely to have a lost-time safety incident (Source: Effective practice guidelines: Employee engagement and commitment. SHRM). A DecisionWise study found that disengaged employees are nearly twice as likely to be injured on the job as their engaged counterparts based on workers compensation claims. If you work in a manufacturing or heavy equipment environment, this is especially important. Take away: When we are engaged in what we do we tend to follow safety procedures more diligently and don’t lose focus as often, thus leading to fewer safety incidents.
- Better health: Want to improve your health? One study monitored a group of 168 engaged and disengaged workers multiple times during a day to measure stress, as well as other health indicators. Those that were engaged reported lower stress and higher interest levels throughout the day. They also showed improvements in cholesterol and blood pressure readings. Conversely, disengaged employees were twice as likely to be diagnosed as depressed than those who were engaged (Source: Well Being: The Five Essential Elements, by Tom Rath & Jim Harter).
- Happiness: Employee engagement and happiness may be closely related, but not the same. Employees can be happy but not fully engaged in their work. But those who are fully engaged in what they do are much more likely to also be happy. Employee engagement is based on fulfilling five basic human needs in our work: meaning, autonomy, growth, impact, and connection. DecisionWise research shows that when these needs are met, our overall level of happiness increases.
- Pay and advancement: Much of the research on employee engagement shows that engaged employees perform better than their peers. Engaged employees not only work harder, but also work smarter and are able to produce better results. This helps them to earn higher wages, receive faster promotions, and market themselves for better career opportunities. This doesn’t mean devoting oneself entirely to a job and sacrificing work-life balance. Many people describe being engaged as “having a great day at work,” or “being in the zone.” Being fully engaged allows you to get more out of your workday while feeling energized and committed to your work.
- Better home life: “I have my work life and my home life. They don’t mix.” We’ve had a number of managers try and tell us this. We quickly call BS when we hear it. Two separate lives? That’s called “multiple personality disorder.” If we are disengaged at work, it’s pretty tough to make the switch to an engaged home life. We’re simply not wired that way. DecisionWise research shows that engaged employees are far more likely to be engaged outside of work as well.
Choosing to be engaged allows us to experience greater safety, health, happiness, and performance in our jobs and in our personal lives. The bottom line is that no one can force us to be engaged. A company can create an environment that fosters engagement, but we have to make the choice to be engaged. Only then can we experience all of the personal benefits that engagement offers.
Do you have any other personal benefits of employee engagement to add to the list? Share them in the comments.