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What is the Role of HR in Employee Engagement?

Discover the important role HR plays in supporting employee engagement.

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Engaged employees feel like they are doing the right thing at their job by using the right skills, working effectively with their managers and colleagues, to ultimately drive their career goals further. But who facilitates the initiatives that guide employees towards these positive organizational outcomes?

The short answer: HR professionals.

Employee engagement is a complex concept that often touches on all aspects of HR. However, many organizations still face confusion, and even conflict, when it comes to defining who is truly responsible for their employee engagement initiatives.

In this guide, we’ll explore exactly why employee engagement matters to your organization, who is actually responsible for it, and some key touchpoints of the crucial role that HR plays in employee engagement. The aim is to help you better understand the importance of your HR team in creating a more engaged workforce. 

Why does employee engagement matter?

In order to get the most out of their employees, organizations need to understand what engages them. Your workforce is the bread and butter of your business. They hold everything together, and in turn, how engaged they are has a knock on effect to pretty much every avenue of your business.

The definition of employee engagement is a broad and complex one, but at its core it can be thought of as a measure of how productive, happy, and fulfilled employees are in their roles. 

Employee engagement also measures the rate at which you are engaging employees with company information such as employee communications, company policies, or direct contact with the Human Resources department. But why is all of this so important?

By assessing, investing in and working to improve this data, you can:

  • Increase productivity and profitability: Engaged workforces vastly outperform disengaged ones. According to one report by Connected Culture employees who regularly communicate with one another are more productive. As such, it’s no surprise that highly engaged business units are also seen to achieve a 43% difference in turnover and a 23% difference in profitability.
  • Boost levels of innovation and creativity: In an engaged and driven company culture, innovation and creativity can develop. So by focusing on employee engagement you are potentially laying the groundwork for great things to come.
  • Adapt better customer service: Engaged employees are happier in the work they do, and therefore better equipped to offer customers a more personalized experience. As Gallup further reports, highly engaged organizations can benefit from 10% higher customer ratings and 18% higher sales. Engagement can make your business stand out against the competition, especially if you’re a customer-facing, frontline organization. 
  • Minimize staff turnover: High employee engagement levels can be linked to higher levels of employee satisfaction, in turn boosting employee retention and minimizing turnover. In fact, studies have shown that employees are almost 90% less likely to leave a job if they are highly engaged at work.

Why avoid disengagement?

Nothing comes from doing nothing. And without your input, you will have disengaged employees. Why does this concern you?

Well, in its latest report, Gallup finds that 60% of people are emotionally detached (actively disengaged) at work, and 19% are miserable. Gallup also reports that actively disengaged employees are costing global companies nearly $350 billion a year, so that alone should be reason enough for these employee engagement statistics to pique your interest.

Disengaged employees have also been found to exhibit higher levels of stress, anger and even health problems, alongside much higher absenteeism rates: the top 20% in employee engagement realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism compared to those with lower engagement levels. 

Clearly, the organizational benefits of strong employee engagement are vast. But who’s responsible for ensuring your organization avoids the pitfalls of disengagement and embraces the benefits that an engaged workforce can deliver?

Who is actually responsible for employee engagement?

Internal comms might try to own it, executive teams make efforts to drive it, but the real owner of employee engagement is the HR department. 

HR departments are uniquely positioned to push strategic initiatives and drive employee engagement across the organization. As the custodians of talent, it is HR’s responsibility to manage employee recruitment, onboarding, development, and retention strategies to ensure that employees feel valued and engaged in their roles.

While currently treated as a purely operational support function, HR leaders are seeking recognition by the board for the wider impact of their efforts. Employee engagement is a key part of their strategy, impacting business operations across the board, and making HR a critical player in the organization’s success.

As Employee Engagement is a core element of our app, we have some valuable insight here. We’re seeing a trend of support towards employee engagement in HR, with leaders approaching it in new and innovative ways to drive positive outcomes for the organization.

By valuing the roles a HR professional can provide in engagement strategies as outlined below, and putting HR at the heart of your engagement solutions, your business can start to see the true benefits of an engaged workforce.

The short version: HR and employee engagement go hand-in-hand. It’s time for leadership teams to recognize this and provide buy-in for the critical role HR plays in employee engagement.

The 6 key roles HR plays in employee engagement

1. Recruitment

When it comes to employee engagement, HR is often responsible for engaging employees throughout the recruitment process.This includes sourcing potential employees; conducting interviews; implementing onboarding processes, training and inductions; and making decisions on who to hire. 

By hiring employees who are a good fit for the company culture and ensuring they have the digital tools, skills and resources they need to succeed from the get-go, HR can help to create a more engaged workforce.

2. Communication

Internal comms, or communication within the company, is a critical part of employee engagement that lies in HR’s hands. By communicating effectively with employees, HR departments can keep them up-to-date on company news, policies, and procedures. This helps to ensure that employees are engaged and informed about what is happening in the company.

Regular two-way communication is also key to maintaining a positive relationship with employees. HR should make an effort to communicate with employees on a regular basis, whether it be through Secure Chats, email, newsletters, or face-to-face meetings. This helps to ensure that employees feel valued and connected to the company, boosting overall performance.

3. Recognition 

One core role that HR plays in employee engagement is recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work. This can include things like bonuses, rewards programs, or an online shoutout in your team chat. Recognition is an important motivator for employees, and HR should take the lead in facilitating these types of reward systems to encourage higher levels of employee engagement.

Digital tools that facilitate Kudos or Colleague Recognition are also becoming more and more popular, making it even easier for HR to recognize employees and keep them engaged.

screenshot of link shoutouts

4. Retention

One key role that HR plays in employee engagement is driving employee retention. By conducting regular exit interviews and engagement surveys, HR can track employee satisfaction levels and identify any problems that may have led to employees leaving the company. This information can then be used to improve retention rates and boost employee engagement.

Employee Surveys are another great way to guide your employee engagement efforts towards boosting employee retention. By asking employees questions about how engaged they feel in their work, HR can get a snapshot of the overall level of engagement in the organization. 

This data can then be used to make changes that will improve employee engagement levels and drive employee retention, minimizing staff turnover and its costly consequences.

5. Wellbeing and Safety

Employee engagement is important for the success of a company. A big part of employee engagement is making sure that employees feel good mentally and that they feel safe at work.

This includes things like having good communication about safety, an easy-access Hub storing core company policies and safety procedures, and making sure that everyone feels welcome and supported in the workplace. HR can play a big role in creating a psychologically safe environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up if they have any safety concerns.

6. Tools and Tech

Tools and tech can play a big role in supporting employees with their personal growth initiatives. By providing employees with access to the right tools and technologies, like employee engagement apps, HR can help them to grow and develop their skill sets, in turn helping the HR department meet its goals.

This includes things like providing employees with access to training material, online courses, or e-books. HR can also facilitate personal growth initiatives like IDPs (Individual Development Plans) by providing employees with access to online tools that make it easy to track their progress.

Searching for the ultimate employee engagement tool? Here’s a quick intro to the Blink employee app.

What can HR do to improve employee engagement?

So, we’ve discussed the role of HR in employee engagement, but what are some of the best practices HR can adopt to improve employee engagement? Here are a few ideas, taken straight from a workshop from Simon White, VP People at Blink, entitled ‘Managing Engagement’. Simon takes us through five initiatives that can support managers in driving and measuring engagement.

Understand BAU engagement

HR can support managers in understanding the ‘baseline’ or BAU (business as usual) engagement levels within an organization. This means assessing and tracking metrics like turnover, productivity, and performance over time, as well as identifying any trends or patterns that may be affecting overall engagement levels.

With this information, HR can work with managers to identify strategies and interventions that will help to improve engagement levels in both the short and the long-term.

Know how to measure engagement

It’s important to have a good understanding of how employee engagement can be measured, both in terms of the tools you use and the data you collect. Some common methods for measuring employee engagement include exit interviews, employee surveys, and online tools like pulse polls or team chats. You can also use features such as employee engagement analytics to quantify your engagement levels.

Here’s how we measure engagement at Blink:

  • Retention: What are your key retention metrics and eNPS scores? Retention is one of the main drivers of employee engagement, so it’s important to get a good understanding of how, why and when employees are leaving your organization.
  • Manager performance: How do you measure the effectiveness of your managers? Strong managerial support is a key driver of employee engagement, so it’s important to assess and improve the performance of your managers.
  • Performance and engagement: What do your employee engagement metrics tell you? By tracking employee performance and engagement metrics, HR can identify areas where employees are feeling disengaged or dissatisfied.

Know how to manage for engagement

Did you know that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in team engagement and heavily influence employee wellbeing?

Mid-level management plays a key role in managing employee engagement. This can include things like providing constructive feedback, giving recognition and rewards, and acknowledging individual strengths and contributions.

Overall, HR has an important role to play in improving employee engagement by supporting managers in their efforts to create positive work environments. With the right tools and strategies in place, HR can help to build strong, healthy, and engaged teams throughout the organization.

Look for early signs of disengagement

Employees who are becoming disengaged may start to pull back from their work, leading to less contributions to the wider team, less output, and less engagement in 1-2-1s and meetings. HR should be on the lookout for these early signs of disengagement and take action to re-engage employees before they lose interest in their work entirely.

Talk about more than tasks (during 1-2-1s)

HR should encourage managers to focus more on fostering strong relationships during 1-2-1s. This means not just discussing work-related tasks or performance metrics, but also taking the time to learn about employees’ personal interests, goals, and challenges.

By creating a supportive and open environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns, HR can help to build a sense of trust and connection that is critical for strong employee engagement.

Final Thoughts

So, what does this mean for leaders responsible for driving employee engagement?

Overall, improving employee engagement requires the support and involvement of organizations at all levels. By gaining buy-in from C-Suite leaders, and working closely with mid-level managers and their employees to understand needs and priorities, HR can play a critical role in helping to improve employee engagement levels across the organization.

And with the right tools and strategies in place, businesses can reap the many benefits that come from having a highly engaged workforce.

How can Blink help?

No employee engagement strategy is complete without the right employee engagement app, and Blink provides the all-in-one mobile engagement solution that businesses need to promote engagement and drive results.

With features like pulse surveys, automated reminders, and Frontline Intelligence, Blink makes it easy for HR teams to collect employee feedback, identify areas for improvement, and implement effective solutions that help to boost engagement levels across the organization.

From seamless communication channels to customized rewards and recognition programs, Blink has all you need to improve overall engagement levels, driving HR goals and business success.

Whether you’re looking for a new way to measure employee satisfaction or simply want to provide a more engaging employee experience, Blink has the tools to support and facilitate your success. So why not book a demo today and start reaping the benefits for your team?

HR employee engagement FAQs

Is employee engagement part of HR?

Yes, employee engagement is a core part of HR and plays a critical role in helping to keep employees motivated, engaged, and productive. This includes facilitating regular two-way communication with employees, providing recognition and rewards for good work, and focusing on initiatives that help to improve retention rates.

What are the 5 main roles of HR?

Five of the main roles that HR plays in employee engagement include: facilitating communication, recognition and rewards, retention, wellbeing, and implementing the right tools and technology. By focusing on these areas, HR can help to improve overall employee engagement levels and ensure that employees feel valued and supported at work.

How can HR improve employee productivity?

HR can improve employee productivity by fostering a healthy work environment that encourages trust and collaboration. HR can also help to identify bottlenecks in workflow, as well as providing flexible working options or using technology to streamline processes.

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