Employee engagement has been a hot topic in recent years, and a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report shows that 71% of executives believe that employee engagement is important to their organisation’s overall success.

This is hardly surprising considering that when employees are genuinely interested in and challenged by the work they do it’s not just good for morale, but can boost a business’s bottom line too.

Research shows that engagement leads to happier and more productive employees, and one large-scale study from Gallup found that when employees are disengaged, absenteeism is 37% higher and 60% more errors are made at work.

Engagement can affect everything from productivity to profitability, and another study by Queens School of Business shows that organizations with engaged employees achieve 26% less employee turnover, 15% greater employee productivity and 30% greater customer satisfaction.

So how can you tell if your own employees are happy and engaged in their work? While you could carry out a workplace survey to find out, the truth is that if your employees are truly engaged, you won’t need a survey to tell you.

Are your employees engaged? Here are some of the signs to look for.

1. They seek and provide useful feedback

When employees are engaged, they genuinely want to see things run smoothly and improve, so they’ll be more likely to seek out feedback from those around them. They won’t wait to find out whether their methods are effective; they’ll ask how they can improve.

Research shows that providing and accepting feedback can be a great way to motivate employees, but if you want your employees to feel comfortable sharing honest feedback with you, it’s important to create an environment where open communication is encouraged.

Make sure your employees know that they’ll never have to worry about negative consequences when they ask for help or speak their mind, provided it’s done constructively.

2. They exceed goals and expectations

Employees who are engaged won’t be satisfied with doing the bare minimum. They tend to be focused on the bigger picture and may often exceed goals and expectations, be the first to volunteer for new projects, and take on additional responsibilities.

If you want to encourage and motivate your employees, it’s important to acknowledge their efforts and accomplishments, especially when they’ve been doing well. Providing opportunities for advancement is also a great way motivate employees to go above and beyond.

3. They look for opportunities to learn new skills

Are your employees looking for opportunities to improve their current skill set or learn entirely new ones? Employees who are engaged in their work are more likely to invest in their professional development, whether through formal courses or by seeking out a mentor.

If you want to engage your workers, providing opportunities for growth and advancement can be a good place to start. This can take the form of creating opportunities for mentorship, formulating individual development plans, measuring employee performance and progress, providing personalised feedback or connecting employees to professional networks through industry associations, workshops and courses.

4. They refer people they know

When people are happy at work, they won’t have any qualms referring their friends or acquaintances when they know there’s a position that needs to be filled.

Candidates who are hired through employee referrals are also likely to stick around longer, with one study showing that 47% of those hired through referrals remain with a company for over three years, compared to 39% of those hired through career sites and just 14% of those hired through job boards.

So knowing that your employees feel comfortable recommending their place of work to their friends or professional connections is a good indicator that you’re doing something right.

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