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What is Employee Engagement and Why is it Important?

By: Gary Iles on January 24, 2019

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In generations past, the success of a business and their brand was more dependent on outbound marketing and the impressions executives made on customers and clients. But beginning in 1990 with his groundbreaking study, Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work, William A. Khan introduced a concept that would gain immediate traction and evolve into what, today, is known as Employee Engagement.

What Is Employee Engagement?

Forbes defines Employee Engagement as "the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals." Essentially, employee engagement is the measure of how much employees are committed to the organization for whom they work. This involves the emotional, physical, mental, and practical well-being of employees and how connected they feel to the mission of their employer.

For the retail and restaurant industries, employee turnover is the second highest among all industries (technology leads by just .2 percent) which is a costly problem for those in the retail and restaurant sectors. However, by increasing employee engagement, these industries could see immediate impacts to their bottom line by reducing employee turnover, improving customer satisfaction, and increasing brand recognition.

Engagements Starts With Management

Today's workforce - more than ever in history - craves a meaningful position in a company with an organizational mission and vision that they can commit to rather than the classic 9-5 job where a pay check is guaranteed with possible advancement opportunities. It's partly for this reason that organizations worldwide are making strategic changes to improve employee engagement. 

Gallup suggests managers should be not only selected appropriately, but also properly trained and held accountable for improving employee engagement. But, where can managers begin? The retail and restaurant industries provide managers the opportunity to find creative ways to increase the engagement (and thus, retention) of their employees. 

Tips for Increased Employee Engagement

Work-Life Balance

Flexibility in hours is just one example of work-life balance. Today's workers are increasingly able to do remote work which gives them the freedom to work from home. In the restaurant and retail industries, however, this would prove difficult if not impossible. There are other ways, however, to ensure your employees have the work-life balance today's workforce want. For example, offering a wellness program that allows them gym memberships or ensuring their personal lives are accommodated by a flexible schedule are just a couple of examples that employers can show their workers they care about their lives.


Rewards and Recognition have long been a part of these industries (think, "Employee of the Month" awards), but today's workers are predominantly more interested in improvement and growth, rather than a plaque on the wall. In fact, Harvard Business Review points out that employees who reach a glass ceiling are quite likely to seek out new (and more challenging) employment. By recognizing a worker's exceptional work and contribution to your company, you can take steps to help them continue to climb higher in their career.

Continued Education

"Organizations have nowhere to hide. They have to adapt to the needs of the modern workforce, or they will find themselves struggling to attract and keep great employees and therefore customers." --Gallup's State of the American Workforce.

According to Gallup's State of the American Workforce, employers are increasingly finding the need to become "more agile and collaborative" and are seeking new ways to improve communication, teamwork, and continued learning because today's employees want to "learn and develop." Learn more by downloading our free guide, "How Mobile Learning Technology Drives a Consistent Customer Experience."

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