Importance of Employee Engagement for Managers Seeking Growth

ShowUp Team | Published: July 21, 2021
Employee Engagement

You may be an exceptional manager with talented employees.

But, like most managers, you may be wondering: Why do I still struggle to achieve my team’s (and company’s) goals with ease?

The reason likely boils down to two things.

And the first of those two things is teamwork. Andrew Carnegie, one of America’s greatest industrialists, knew this.

He said:

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

Teamwork, as Carnegie noted, is a vital fuel for achieving organizational goals. But like petrol cars, only fuel (or teamwork, in this case) isn’t enough.

You must oil the engine to reduce friction too.

And that’s where the importance of employee engagement comes in. Managing an engaged team is like driving a self-repairing petrol car with enough fuel and a well-oiled engine.

Engagement gives you managerial superpowers. You’ll see this as we explore five reasons why it is important in this article.

Before we jump in…

Have you ever wondered what makes engaged teams 22% more profitable to their organizations than disengaged teams?

A study reported by Forbes gives us a clue.

The research found that for teams in the top 20% of engagement, there’s 59% less turnover and a 41% reduction in absenteeism.

In other words, the more you improve employee engagement on your team, the more they’ll stick with your company longer. And show up to work with fewer excuses.

With these insights, how do you improve engagement on your team?

There are a couple of ways to do this. But no matter the methodology you use, it all comes down to collecting employee feedback regularly.

Research by Globoforce and SHRM confirms this.

In the study, over 89% of HR leaders agreed ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are critical for building an engaged team.

But collecting ongoing feedback and doing 1-one-1 check-ins, as HR leaders rightly recommend, is hard. If you manage even 5+ employees, you can’t do this manually while wearing the many hats a manager wears.

Employee Engagement Is Important

Use ShowUp to gain valuable feedback, track your team’s pulse, and get timely insights to improve engagement regularly

The State of Employee Engagement (in today’s Hybrid Workplace)

2019 and 2020 may have come and gone.

But the rise in remote work and hybrid work environments both years brought, due to the WHO-declared pandemic, are here to stay.

Also, the sorry state of employee engagement remained.

Let’s see.

1. The Recession Scare Didn’t Reduce Employee Turnover

During the pandemic and its ensuing recession, mainstream media reported massive layoffs. Most reported the threatening rises in unemployment.

You may think this would scare employees to hold more tightly to their jobs, increasing team engagement in the process, right?


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, In April 2020 (in the heat of the recession), 1.9 million employees quit their jobs. Four months later, in August, that number grew to 2.8 million job quitters.

Many factors contribute to this. However, you don’t need a soothsayer to tell you disengagement is a primary factor.

Why do I say so, you ask?

Gallup’s worldwide study shows, despite the recession, only 22% of employees are engaged. In other words, recession doesn’t scare employees (especially top talent) to stick to their jobs, collaborate with teammates, or become more engaged for fear of being laid off.

Wespire’s 2021 research even found over 57% of gainfully employed people are looking to jump ship.

Why should you care as a manager?

It means a rise in unemployment or not; you must still work hard to improve engagement if you hope to retain your best brains.

2. Success Depends on Engaged Employees More than Ever

The state of engagement among teams also hasn’t changed in one area.

And this is in the correlation between engaged teams within a company and the company’s long-term success. Executives even agree on this.

In a survey by Fasttrack 360, over 71% of leading executives said employee engagement was crucial to their company’s success.

Other studies support this trend.

Bonusly’s State of Employee Engagement Report found highly engaged organizations are more than 2x likely to be top financial performers in their sector. And Gallup’s research revealed strong correlations between company success and employee engagement even during a recession.

With these findings, don’t you think it’s essential to know what employee engagement isn’t before diving into its importance?

It is.

Most managers have their eyes on the wrong things when it comes to employee engagement. To help refocus your efforts, let’s look at two common myths wrongfully thought will fix a disengaged employee.

Myth 1. Higher Paychecks Yields Higher Engagement

Higher paychecks may buy the employees you manage temporary job satisfaction. Spoiler alert: It won’t get them more engaged.

Charles Rogel, VP & Senior Consultant at DecisionWise, agrees. He said:

The factors that drive employee engagement are different than those that drive job satisfaction. Employee satisfaction is the minimum entry fee that needs to be met in order for an employee to be fully engaged.

Research by OfficeVibe further supports this.

The study found while 89% of employers (and managers) think employees leave because of money, only 12% of employees said they actually do.

But how is this more of an employee engagement issue, you ask?

Another study by ReportLinker revealed 83% of employees would stay longer with a company if they received opportunities to take on more challenges.

In other words, although adequate compensation is necessary, it’s not enough.

Top talent crave meaningful work. It takes more than more perks to keep them. You must prioritize engagement to discover what’s meaningful to them.

Myth 2: Hands-on Management Cripples Engagement

We all love our personal freedoms.

While that is true to some extent, it also led to a common myth in the employee engagement world. And this is that giving people the freedom to do things on their own improves employee disengagement.

A 2018 study found otherwise.

The research revealed bad management and not more freedom was the most significant issue holding employees. This study also found workers need continuous guidance, support, and mentorship to perform at their peak.

As a manager, this should tell you something about employees.

They aren’t obsessed with removing your leadership hierarchy. No! They’ll rather have you transformed into a guide that helps build engagement.

And here’s how you can do that.

Ongoing Employee Engagement Survey to the Rescue

If higher salaries, more perks, or giving employees more freedom doesn’t skyrocket engagement, how can you improve it then?

It starts by listening to your team members via ongoing employee surveys.

David D’Souza, Head of Engagement at London’s CIPD, a professional body for People Development & HR, observed this. In his words:

Listen, listen, listen – act – and then listen some more. It helps to focus on the basics first, and then move on to how people feel and what they need.

And what’s an excellent way to listen to employees for real-time insights on what they need (and get the resources to act)?

Give Employees a Voice

Use ShowUp to get timely insights to improve engagement regularly

Let’s now dive into why employee engagement is important.

The Importance of Employee Engagement for Managers - Five Reasons to Take it Seriously

As you’ve seen so far, employee engagement is complex.

Despite its complexity, several studies show positive outcomes for companies that invest in it. It’s no surprise then to see 78% of organizations having a documented engagement strategy.

The reason for this growing interest isn’t far-fetched.

As a manager seeking growth (I hope you’re one), let’s explore why employee engagement is important. And why you should take it seriously.

It Builds Stronger (and a More Attractive) Company Culture

An engaged employee isn’t only concerned with collaborating with teammates to cross off tasks you assign them. But they’re also committed to contributing their quota to fulfilling the company’s purpose, boosting team alignment in the process.

The reason for this is simple.

Your company culture outlines the norms, accepted behaviors, goals, and vision of the organization. It defines the “why?”

"How” you, the manager, and other employees work daily determines if you’ll fulfill that vision or achieve your growth goals.

And this is where employee engagement sets in. How? Because higher team engagement directly affects how well work gets done.

Gordon Tredgold, Founder, Leadership Principles LLC, observed it leads to a more attractive culture:

Engaged teams go the extra distance, they deliver better services, and they achieve better results. Engaged employees stay longer with companies; they’re more committed and help build a culture that delivers sustainable success.

Engagement Yields Increased Productivity

As a manager, you’ll struggle to hit reasonable revenue milestones if employee productivity is low.

But the reality is that you can’t improve productivity by focusing on productivity. Not in today’s hybrid workplace where remote workers report from across the globe.

As per this report by Insync, higher productivity results from other underlying factors – lower absenteeism, increased motivation, and a focus on getting stuff done.

So how do you tackle these underlying issues and achieve higher productivity?

This is another reason why employee engagement is important. You can increase productivity by improving engagement. Gallup’s research proves it. It found that:

Engaged employees are 21% more productive than disengaged employees–even if they're working remotely.

Engagement Reduces Turnover (but Boots Retention) Rates

When you lose an employee, your team’s morale drops. And though not visible at first, your company loses money, too.

You may argue this if, say, a toxic employee finally leaves.

But whether a teammate is toxic or not, the fact is, you spend additional costs hiring, training, and onboarding a new hire.

In short, the cost of replacing an employee is over 200% of their salary.

Engagement is vital here because, besides reducing turnover, it also boosts employee retention rates. Kevin M. Kruse, NYT Bestselling Author, tells us why. He said:

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.

Wouldn’t you prefer your team was more committed to achieving your goals instead of jumping ship? Yes? Then take employee engagement seriously.

Engagement Creates Work-Life Balance

As per Bonsuly’s study, 58% of actively disengaged employees were job hunting. But the figure reduced to only 38% for highly engaged employees.

This finding brings me to a question.

As a manager, would you keep a job that affects your personal life negatively?

If you answered no, which I expect, your employees are no different.

Everyone wants a job where there’s a work-life balance. And if that’s not possible in your company, disengagement increases, leaving them to hunt for other jobs where work/life balance thrives.

But what is work-life balance?

It simply means employees feeling the permission to disconnect from work to pursue activities in their life side of the balance. The problem sets in when they can’t disconnect because of uncompleted assigned tasks.

Employees can’t complete assigned tasks when engagement is low. So you must get your team more engaged to boost collaboration and productivity.

Engagement Encourages Communication and Honest Feedback

For your workplace to thrive, communication and honest feedback must be a two-way street.

And that’s because honest feedback helps you, the manager, and the employees you manage spot areas for improvement. It’s how you address weak spots and improve performance.

As the illustration below shows, doing this starts by initiating ongoing, anonymous employee surveys. In turn, you enhance communication and honest feedback, leading to improved employee engagement:

Showup - Team Feedback Loop

Taking the steps above isn’t just crucial to employee engagement but the overall growth of your company. As you see above, listening to employees affects other areas up to your team’s motivation.

Seasoned Executive Coach, John Baldoni, confirmed this when he said:

When managers listen and give employees a voice in their work, things improve.

Strategic Employee Experience & Engagement Improvement Tools

I’ve outlined five (out of many other) reasons why employee engagement is vital to your company’s growth.

But you may be wondering: What tools can I use to take action?

Let’s explore a couple of them.

Project organization & management tools

In this digital, remote-first world, you must organize and manage projects to stay organized. The good news? These tools do more than help you keep things organized; they can also improve employee engagement.

Try the tools below to scope and assign tasks under specific projects and reduce disengagement & distraction – a problem for 69% of full-time workers:

  • Trello: Trello is a household project organization tool used by over a million people worldwide. It has kanban boards, lists, and massive integrations with most tools teams need to get work done.
  • Plutio: Plutio is a newer, all-in-one suite for project organization and management, perfect for remote working. It has a customizable dashboard you can use for time tracking, team/client project management/communication, CRM, website chat widgets, and more.

Collaboration and team comms tools

Collaboration and team communication are crucial to engagement.

These tools can save you (and your team) the back and forth email clutter. Beyond that, they can increase productivity by up to 30%:

  • Slack: Slack makes team and company-wide collaboration and communication a breeze. You can create channels for different tasks, chat one-on-one, get real-time updates via notifications, and integrate almost any tool to Slack for collaboration magic.
  • Whereby: In a New York Times survey, 86% of respondents preferred Whereby to Zoom. This tool is excellent for video communication between teams that allows for customization, breakouts, brainstorming, and engagement. And you can quickly transcribe Whereby video calls with HappyScribe.

Employee Feedback

Direct feedback on assigned tasks and projects is not enough for judging the overall engagement of employees across your team and company.

You need an employee survey and feedback tool to give employees a voice that’s beyond the work they do.

And this is crucial for measuring employee engagement

In fact, a report by Salesforce observed employees whose voices are heard are 4.6x more likely to feel empowered to perform better.

  • Officevibe: Officevibe is an all-encompassing feedback software. It has features like pulse surveys, weekly check-ins, employee recognition, and people analytics. Officevibe compares to 15five in functionalities.
  • ShowUp: ShowUp lets you have live anonymous employee feedback conversations. The tool collects this feedback, giving you real-time insights for tracking your team’s pulse on an ongoing basis.

Conclusion: Boost Your Employee Engagement Strategy with Team Conversations

As you’ve seen so far, employee engagement is essential to the overall health of your company. In short, you need an engaged team to achieve most, if not all, managerial ambitions.

If this is the case, how do you improve engagement?

According to Bob Kelleher, President, The Employee Engagement Group, you can do this if you:

Commit to communicating with all employees every month from the C-Suite level, weekly at the first-line level.

In the past, weekly communication with first-line employees required a lot of manual processes. What’s worse was collecting and making sense of the responses they shared from that communication feedback.

Well, not anymore.

With ShowUp, you can facilitate open or anonymous feedback conversations with all employees. Give your employees a platform to be heard and valued within the organization.

Improve Employee Engagement with ShowUp

Does your team feel safe? Find out what they think.

Measure and know where to improve your team culture so that everyone enjoys showing up to work.

Try it FREE
App screenshot