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What Is Employee Engagement and Why is it Important

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The term employee engagement may seem like a relatively new term, but the fact is that it started to crop up in the academic world over 20 years ago and has been gaining momentum ever since.  In the 1990's Personnel became Human Resources and organizations began to shift from focusing on employee satisfaction to employee commitment as their primary means of retaining workers.  Since then the increased competition of the global economy and its shift from manufacturing to service has forced companies to become more lean and flexible.  The same is true for the worker.  They too have needed to become more nimble both in skills and mobility.  The increased competition has forced businesses to focus more on productivity and workers need more and more skills to be able to remain in the workforce.  As a result workers are moving from one job to another seeking new skills and then parlaying them into the next job in a new company.  The commitment that organizations were seeking has become contingent on the workers ability to thrive.   As this shift was taking place a study published by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) titled "From People to Profits, the HR link to the service profit chain" showed empirically how employee attitudes and behavior improved customer retention and ultimately sales performance.   This study done in 1990 along with 2 1/2 decades of subsequent case studies and data, confirm employee engagement as the new aim of Human Resources and it's new leader; the new Director of Happiness.  

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Engagement is what happens when people are doing work that they enjoy, with people they love to accomplish something that matters.   Employee engagement is an essential ingredient of organizational health.  Highly respected author and consultant Patrick Lencioni, sites organizational health as the single most important competitive advantage that businesses must develop.  A healthy organization is one in which the organization is providing an environment that supports the success of everyone, is intentional about putting the right people in the right roles and collaborates with engaged employees to perform better and produce more than the competition.   

Author: Robb Breding 5/31/17