Engaged employees directly translate to loyal customers. And the key to acquiring engaged employees is their degrees of emotional attachment to their jobs, according to Mike Phillips, Director of Professional Services Group, Cvent, and Barry Altland, Manager, Learning and Organizational Development, Community Health Centers, Inc.

During their session at the 7th Annual Loyalty Expo, presented by Loyalty360 – The Loyalty Marketer’s Association, Phillips and Altland discussed the vital importance of an engaged workforce and its positive impact on both customer experience and creating loyal customers.

Phillips offered the following definition of employee engagement:

“The measurable degree of an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to their job, colleagues and organization that profoundly influences their willingness to learn and perform at work.”

An engaged workforce, Altland said, creates a competitive advantage, customer loyalty, morale, and revenue.

Firms with customer retention rates of 80% or higher also include 55% engaged workforces compared to 39% with disengaged workforces.

Many people believe that emotions play a major role in an engaged workforce, but have found it difficult to operationalize such concepts for action. There are now approaches that enable the ability to understand and quantify such concepts.

Altland shared a framework for fostering employee engagement called the 12 Steps of the Employee Engagement Cycle, which includes four phases.

Phase 1: project plan, design, ask

Phase 2: Listen, analyze, report

Phase 3: Communicate, plan, act

Phase 4: Share, recognize, celebrate

Cultural tenets that influence engagement include: competent project planning, introspection and transparency, ongoing communication, engaging leadership, ownership, and collaboration.

Phillips said that engaged employees lead to great customer experience, loyal customers, strong financial results, investment in employees, lower employee turnover, and prouder employees. What’s more, that all leads to committed brand ambassadors, new product/service ideas, and empowered problem solvers.

Altland said leadership engagement is a critical component of building engagement throughout the entire organization.

“The organization has to be ready to look within and collaborate across all levels,” he explained. “It needs to be embedded into the very fabric of the organization. Communication is the key to the process.”

Altland said companies can’t dabble in team member engagement. 

“This is not a flavor of the month kind of proposition,” he said. “The efforts bear fruit only after the toil and investment of seasons pass. If organizations are looking for the quick fix to engagement, they often end up doing more damage than good in their attempts.”

Phillips agreed that leadership has to absolutely be on the same page regarding employee engagement.

“Employees who feel empowered and recognized for taking action are more engaged than their peers,” he said.

Here are some other takeaways from the session:

Engaged workplaces are more productive

Engaged workplaces perform better

There is less turnover

Less absenteeism

Fewer safety incidents

Fewer quality defects

More customer satisfaction

Altland said there has to be measurable metrics attached to any employee engagement program.

“What gets measured is what gets done,” he added.

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