Employee engagement programs and activities are designed to create a positive work environment, boost morale, and improve communication among employees. Typically, taking part in these programs is optional for employees. But those employees who do participate have a lot to benefit – here’s why.
What’s the Purpose of Employee Engagement?
Before we dive into the benefits, it's important to understand the purpose of employee engagement. First, what is employee engagement – and how does it relate to the overall employee experience?
Employee engagement is the level at which employees feel motivated and committed to their work, their role, and their organization. Engaged employees (unlike disengaged employees) are typically high performers who are excited to do their best work and help their company succeed.
In contrast, employee experience is the sum total of a worker's individual experiences at a company. At Cooleaf, we define EX as every part of the employee journey, including all of the systems and processes employees use to get their work done.
It’s easy to see why both of these things are important. High levels of employee engagement are linked to higher profitability, increased employee retention, and improved customer satisfaction. But in order to build an employee experience that promotes engagement, employers need an employee engagement strategy.
That’s where employee engagement programs and activities come in. For employers, there are many benefits of employee engagement programs, including driving a positive company culture, increasing retention rates, and boosting employee satisfaction. For team members, these activities can improve their wellbeing, foster a sense of community, and provide opportunities for career growth.
Why Employee Engagement Activities Matter for Employees
Before accepting a job offer, a prospective employee will most likely consider many different factors about the job, such as the salary, company benefits package, and growth opportunities.
They might also consider less quantitive aspects, like how happy employees seem to be at the company, or whether the organization’s core values align with their own personal belief system.
According to a recent Glassdoor survey, about 77% of workers would also consider a company’s culture before seeking a job there.
Clearly, company culture is important. And one way to identify a great culture is to examine the different employee engagement initiatives that are in place. Does the company regularly send out employee engagement surveys? What kinds of social impact programs do they have? What about remote-friendly team-building activities? What about driving diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging?
You can learn a good deal about a company’s values by evaluating how they treat their employees – and employee engagement programs are often a good indicator.
After you decide to join a company, employee engagement initiatives should still matter to you. Why? Because by participating in employee engagement activities such as employee mentorship programs or CSR initiatives, answering employee feedback surveys, and joining employee resource groups, you can influence your organization’s culture and have an impact on the future of your place of work. If you want to be a part of a successful company, your own engagement is a key factor!
Now, let’s dive into some other reasons to participate in your company’s next engagement initiative.
Benefit #1: Your Health Could Improve
When it comes to employee engagement, wellness often takes center stage – and for good reason! When employees are healthy, they’re more productive, engaged, and motivated at work.
It’s easy to see how engagement programs that focus on health and wellness can benefit workers, too. 70% of employees enrolled in wellness programs report higher job satisfaction than those not enrolled in wellness programs.
There are many types of workplace wellness programs, including step challenges, weight loss challenges, or reward programs for meeting health-related goals. Many of these programs include health-related perks such as fitness devices, free wellness classes, healthy snacks, nutritional resources, and more.
Here’s a few stats about the benefits of wellness programs that might surprise you:
- According to a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health, workplace wellness programs can help people lose weight by providing healthier food choices and increasing opportunities for physical activity.
- Studies at large corporations which implemented comprehensive wellness education and programming found 14-19 percent reductions in absenteeism.
- A study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that participation in workplace stress management programs improved mental and physical health, decreased anxiety and stress, and an increase in mindfulness.
Benefit #2: You’ll Have More Fun at Work
The average person spends a third of their life at work. Making that time as fulfilling and meaningful as possible is just common sense. While the concept of meaningful work may vary greatly from one individual to another, we all want to feel inspired and excited about our jobs.
In a recent survey, 79% of recent graduates felt that having fun at work was important, with 44% of those believing fun in the workplace increases work ethic.
When done well, employee engagement activities should make work more meaningful, inspiring, and fun. They should also help you feel more connected to your teammates and more aligned with your company’s mission and purpose.
By joining team activities such as team-building exercises, community service events, or social outings, employees can build stronger relationships with colleagues and feel more connected to their workplace.
In a remote work environment, building a close relationship with your teammates is even more important. Research has found that virtual teams outperform colocated ones when they have higher levels “of mutual support, member effort, work coordination, balance of member contributions and task-related communications.” So if you want to have more effective and collaborative team, taking part in those virtual engagement and team-building activities is a must.
Improve team health and engagement with our downloadable wellness calendar!
Benefit #3: You’ll Feel Less Stressed
It’s almost impossible to entirely avoid workplace stress, but chronic stress is a serious issue that impacts many of today’s workers. The American Institute of Stress conducted an analysis that determined the economic impact of stress on US employers to be approximately $300 billion, taking into account factors such as absenteeism, turnover, decreased productivity, higher medical costs, and increased legal costs.
Feeling stressed out at work leads to lower job satisfaction – and over time, it can even result in burnout. Not only does burnout affect your own happiness and productivity, but it might ultimately force you to look for a new job, which can be even more stressful!
Engaged employees often experience higher levels of job satisfaction and a sense of control over their workload. Research has consistently shown a negative relationship between job satisfaction and stress levels.
Participating in employee engagement programs that foster job satisfaction can indirectly contribute to stress reduction. An employee experience platform like Cooleaf also helps employees to minimize stress with engagement challenges that encourage daily meditation, practicing gratitude, and spending time in nature – which has been shown to help lower stress hormone levels in just 20 minutes, according to a study in Frontiers in Psychology.
Benefit #4: Your Productivity May Increase
Participating in employee engagement activities may also help improve your productivity.
Activities that boost mental wellness, like meditation, may also increase your ability to redirect and maintain attention. This can make you more productive at work, which can ultimately help you succeed in your role.
In addition, a study by Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) found that employees were 25% more likely to have a higher performance when they ate healthy all day long, and a 20% increase when they ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a week. Employees who exercised at least 3 times a week also had a 15% higher performance. So those programs that incentivize health & wellness have a positive impact on workplace productivity, too.
5. You’ll Have Better Career Growth Opportunities
Finally, employee engagement activities can provide opportunities for career growth. By participating in training sessions, mentorship programs, or other professional development activities, employees can gain new skills and knowledge that can help them advance in their careers. This can also lead to increased job satisfaction and a greater sense of purpose in their work.
All in all, participating in employee engagement activities can benefit you in many ways, both at work and at home. From improving company culture to promoting employee wellbeing, productivity, and career growth, these activities can have a positive impact on both employers and employees. So the next time your company offers an engagement activity, take advantage of the opportunity and reap the benefits!