Employee engagement is defined as an active state related to productivity and innovation.

Engaged employees can be described as being fully immersed in and enthusiastic about their work.  This emotional attachment means that employees will go above and beyond the call of duty. Employee Engagement differs from employee satisfaction.  Satisfaction can be described as being happy at work. Engagement takes employees to another level.

Engaged employees will go the extra mile to resolve a client’s problem or close a sale, they contribute to a culture that consistently delivers great service. Engaged employees take ownership, deliver on their commitments in and outside the organization, and are passionate about satisfying the customer because they own the result of their work.

In short, I am firmly of the opinion that engaged employees are a pre-requisite for building high performance teams within an organization.

Benefits of Engaged Employees

Amongst the top-performing companies, in any survey, 60% to 70% of employees are engaged at work. This is a clear financial incentive for leaders to take Employee Engagement and empowerment seriously. Engaged employees are more innovative and take the success of the company personally.

A recent Gallup survey on the State of the Global Workplace shows that a way to significantly increase productivity is to unleash employees’ potential by allowing individuals to identify, develop and use their natural talents so they become strengths. Employees who use their strengths on the job are more likely to be intrinsically motivated, and teams who know each other’s strengths relate more effectively to each other, boosting group cohesion.

The survey also shows that making better use of employees’ strengths require businesses to grant workers greater autonomy to use their strengths, which requires a profound management shift in which more personalized relationships and positioning team members for maximum impact occurs.

The resulting sense of empowerment, however, benefits both the employees and the organization. Higher levels of autonomy also promote the development and implementation of new ideas as employees feel; empowered to pursue entrepreneurial goals that benefit the organization – that is, to be “intrapreneurs”.

In addition, talented Managers are critical players in implementing a performance-orientated, engagement-based, and strength-focused culture and aligning the leadership and employee values. This individualized approach helps great managers account for generational differences in employee expectations – in particular – millennial employees that prefer a higher level of flexibility.

I also believe that there are a number of additional activities To help leaders succeed in employee engagement, these include; strong visible values in the organization, understanding and addressing employee expectations, career pathing with tailored development programs to help employees achieve their goals, great communication tools, and internal social collaboration tools for peer to peer learning and collaboration, knowledge transfer and helping the company expand the use of best practices, a great reward, and recognition program.

The African continent, in particular, offers companies and employees more opportunities to be involved in community improvement projects and company-wide CSI programs which also increase the feel-good factor in the organization and ultimately contribute towards an increase in employee engagement.