Employee engagement is a key component in successful modern businesses. While companies of the past may have focused on cultivating employees who kept their nose to the grindstone, recent studies have found that employees who are truly engaged in their work are far more productive than mindless automatons. In fact, according to Gallup’s 2013 “State of the Global Workplace” report, companies with engaged workers reported 10% higher customer ratings, 21% increase in productivity, 41% decrease in errors, and 22% higher profits than companies with disengaged employees.
With statistics like these in mind, it’s little wonder that businesses around the world are constantly seeking for ways to engage their employees. They create lively company cultures, focus on employee autonomy, and offer flexibility with when and where you work. But there’s one trick to engaging employees that too few business owners are aware of—and it’s a trick that has returning dividends for your business.
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The Connection between Employee Engagement and Innovation
We won’t make you wait to discover what the secret is: It’s innovation. MacLeod and Clarke published a report showing a direct correlation between employee engagement and high levels of innovation within a company. The best part about it is that the two seem to build upon one another. The more employees were allowed to innovate within the company, the more engaged they became; and, the more engaged the employees were, the more innovative they became.
Employee engagement and innovation go hand in hand with each other, forming an ongoing cycle of returning dividends for your business. But how do you get that cycle started? Let’s discuss that.
Fostering Engagement and Innovation in Your Company
It’s abundantly clear that employee engagement and innovation rely heavily upon one another. So where do you begin to implement these values in your business? The best route to take is to immediately begin implementing a culture of innovation in your business. Create an idea management program that encourages participation and rewards the sharing and implementation of ideas.
Of course, if your employees are highly disengaged, you can’t expect to immediately harvest golden ideas from your workforce. According to a study published in the Gallup Management Journal, only 3% of disengaged employees say that their job makes them more creative. So, some level of engagement is going to be necessary in order to start getting innovative ideas from your workers.
Once your innovation program is in place, you can begin focusing your efforts on other ways to drive up creativity and engagement. Here are some ideas:
- Shut down the office for a few hours and hold a hackathon. Allow employees to discuss the common issues they face and how they might work together to correct them. Group workers from different teams and departments to foster more interdepartmental cooperation, and focus on solving problems throughout the business.
- Allow employees a few hours a week to focus on a “pet project” that is focused on improving the company or the products and services you offer. This is a common practice for major tech companies like Google, who are often the leaders in business innovation.
- Focus less on numbers, and more on the employee’s quality of work. Employees who are solely focused on meeting quotes aren’t going to have the time to think creatively.
By implementing a few changes, you’ll likely see an increased response to your innovation efforts. And as people begin to respond, you’ll have the opportunity to encourage those creative ideas, provide proper feedback, and implement viable innovations in the office. As you do these things, you’ll gradually begin to see engagement and innovation begin to climb in the workplace.
Creating an environment that encourages creativity and innovation is not a fast process. It takes time, some trial and error, and a lot of effort. But in the long run, the impact your efforts will have on employee engagement—not to mention the potential profits from the innovations that your employees create—will have ongoing benefits for your business.