Employee engagement describes the process through which an employee develops positive social and emotional ties to an employer. This business management technique encourages employee involvement through various initiatives. These may include education and training programs, team building exercises, and offering employees performance-based incentives such as bonuses or special recognition. Employee engagement programs operate under the assumption that engaged employees will be more productive and will therefore create more profit for the business. If the employee works for a nonprofit, by the same assumption, engaged employees will be more committed to furthering the goals of the nonprofit.
Social psychology is the arena in which employers attempt to engage employees. Training programs are usually considered an essential part of encouraging employee engagement. These programs may be conducted in a group setting where interactive discussions can take place, as team building is another common technique used in generating employee engagement. If the employee is a new hire, then the engagement is called onboarding, which describes the process of bringing the person on board in such a way that he or she feels like a team member, not an outsider. An engaged employee is believed by some to bestow numerous benefits to a company, including improved public relations, because these workers may voluntarily assume the role of ambassador on behalf of their employer.
Communication strategies used in employee engagement run the gamut from individualized orientations and mentoring, to elaborate team-building events that involve rigorous physical activities, such as surmounting an obstacle. Such a strategy is believed to be transformative in forging new relationships, as people who complete these quests may experience a strong sense of bonding. Weekend retreats or charitable activities may be used to engage workers, too. Encouraging groups of employees to volunteer at a soup kitchen, for example, may serve the dual purposes of instilling a sense of pride in the employees for doing a good deed, and gaining social capital for the employer within the community.
While operating under this theory, employers may use a management style that attempts to instill in employees the belief that they should feel an ownership to their jobs, much as a business owner or entrepreneur would approach his or her work. Reward schemes are often employed in an effort to encourage this attitude. The rewards may not be limited to financial incentives, but may also include public accolades through press releases or honors awarded in public venues.