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The Symbiotic Relationship Between Employee Engagement and Performance

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Employee Engagement and Performance

Employee engagement and performance have a symbiotic relationship, with engaged employees performing better. Disengaged employees may meet productivity goals but lack emotional connection to their work. Engaged employees can lead to a 150% increase in performance and a 21% increase in profitability. To improve engagement, provide clear onboarding for new hires, address root causes of poor performance, offer growth opportunities, and implement workplace training and mentorship programs. Avoid criticizing employees and use a performance management tool to track progress. Combining performance management and employee engagement strategies creates a positive feedback loop, leading to increased motivation and productivity.

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Employee Engagement and Performance

Companies are realizing that employee engagement is critical to driving productivity, innovation, and improved employee performance. That's why more and more companies are focusing on creating a workplace where everyone is not just doing their job but truly enjoying and investing themselves in their work.

When employees feel a sense of purpose, connection, and satisfaction in their roles, they bring their A-game to the table. To put it simply, when employees are engaged, they perform better. 

Employee engagement and performance are intertwined in a symbiotic relationship and affect each other. 

In this article, we'll discuss the dynamics of this relationship and share some of the best performance management practices you can use to improve employee engagement. 

Employee Engagement and Performance Are Connected

Employee engagement and performance are closely tied together, but they aren’t the same thing. 

Employee performance is defined as employee productivity, job quality, and whether they meet set goals. Employee engagement, on the other hand, is how emotionally connected employees feel to their job and workplace. 

Similarly, performance management is a set of strategies that aim to help managers and employees set achievable goals, while employee engagement management is a set of practices that aim to create an enjoyable work environment and prioritize employee well-being. 

Employee engagement and performance: definitions

According to an analysis by Gallup, organizations with high employee engagement report a 22% increase in employee productivity. This means engaged employees inevitably perform better, yet the opposite isn’t true. 

Employees can still meet their productivity goals and achieve expected results while being disengaged. Disengaged employees are simply disconnected from their jobs, often doing the bare minimum to meet their job requirements - a phenomenon called “quiet quitting.” 

However, those who are already underperforming are more likely to disengage and lose enthusiasm for their job. When employees feel like they’re not “good enough” to do their jobs well and meet expectations, they can become frustrated and feel like quitting. 

💡 A poor relationship between employee engagement and performance can quickly become a vicious cycle that can lead to high turnover rates and a massive loss of productivity if not addressed effectively.

How Does Employee Engagement Affect Employee Performance

Here’s what the relationship between employee engagement and performance looks like in numbers: 

  • Improved engagement can lead to a 150% surge in employee performance.
  • Enterprises with high employee engagement scores exhibit a 21% increase in profitability.
  • Approximately 70% of U.S. workers are not reaching their full potential due to disengagement.
  • Disengaged employees are 18-43% more likely to quit than engaged employees.

These numbers prove that engaged employees are crucial for long-term high performance. They are the most important part of your organization. 

💡 If employees are engaged and motivated, they are more likely to contribute positively to the company's success, which makes employee performance a key metric in measuring employee engagement.

How to Leverage Performance Management to Improve Employee Engagement 

Employees at different stages of engagement require a different approach to performance management. For instance, here’s what you can do to improve engagement in different scenarios. 

➡️ With new hires: Setting your new hires up for success will greatly impact their engagement levels right from the start. To prepare your recruits for their roles, provide clear onboarding and training, and schedule regular checkups to ensure they're keeping up with their training and navigating their roles without feeling lost. 

➡️ With unengaged employees: Your employees might be disengaged because they’re underperforming. To address this, you must figure out the root causes of poor performance. Maybe it’s because they haven’t received proper training, are scared to ask for help, or are grappling with too many responsibilities. 

Once you know what’s causing the issue, you can come up with a plan to help each employee improve. Doing so helps your employees become more productive and shows them you care about their growth and development.

➡️ With engaged employees: If your employees are engaged yet underperforming, it might be because they feel stuck or need more challenges. Engaged employees want to grow and do more. 

So, provide them with opportunities for growth and development, recognize and reward their contributions, and seek their feedback on how to improve the performance management process.

How to Improve Performance and Employee Engagement

The relation between employee performance and engagement is a catch-22: employees are underperforming because they’re disengaged, and they’re disengaged because they’re underperforming.  

So, to address whatever is going on in your company effectively, you first have to understand the root of the problem. Are your employees underperforming because they’re disengaged? Or are they disengaged because they’re underperforming? 

If the problem is disengagement, read our article on how to improve employee engagement. If the problem is underperformance, here are some practical tips on how to improve it. 

How to Improve Performance and Employee Engagement

Check in with your employees 

You can't know how to address performance issues effectively unless you figure out what's causing your employees to underperform. 

While tracking a few performance management metrics is always a good idea, the best way to find this out is to ask your employees. 

Effective communication is key, so make sure to regularly check in with them and engage in open conversations to understand the root causes of any issues they may be facing. 

💡 A good way to track this is to use an idea management tool like Ideanote to collect ideas and suggestions from your team.

Discuss your employee's personal growth and goals

One of the primary reasons why employees may be underperforming is a lack of growth. 

When employees feel like they've reached the saturation point of their roles and there's nothing more for them to learn, they will inevitably start doing their jobs on autopilot and slowly losing enthusiasm. 

To avoid this, regularly engage in discussions about your employees' personal growth and goals. If you notice they're no longer meeting expectations, consider whether their current tasks or roles still suit them. 

💡 Reevaluating your employees’ responsibilities and ensuring alignment with their strengths and aspirations can improve performance and job satisfaction.

Launch workplace training initiatives

The rapidly changing world, marked by technological advancements such as artificial intelligence and automation, requires employees to stay updated. 

But if your employees struggle to keep up with all the new tools you're implementing into their daily workflows, they may begin to underperform. 

To prevent this from happening, consider implementing workplace education initiatives and offering assistance to help them keep pace with these changes. 

💡 Providing training on how to use new tools will not only enhance your employees’ skills but also boost their confidence in incorporating these technologies into their tasks.

Set up a mentorship program

Underperforming employees often continue struggling because they're afraid to ask for help out of fear of being perceived as inefficient or incompetent and risking their job security. 

💡 A lack of psychological safety in the workplace can lead to a loss of productivity and disengagement.

So, a key strategy to boost employee performance is creating an environment where they feel comfortable asking for assistance. 

Consider openly implementing mentorship programs to give struggling employees the support they need and help them navigate their challenges without fear of being judged. 

Avoid criticizing your employees

Employees who are underperforming may already feel discouraged from doing their jobs. 

Criticizing or punishing them will quickly lead to frustration and disengagement. To improve their performance, you must avoid blaming and shaming them, especially in front of the entire team. 

Instead, focus on maintaining a positive approach and providing the necessary support to help employees improve. 

💡 You can encourage growth and better performance much more effectively by fostering a supportive environment rather than heightening negative feelings.

Here is an excellent presentation on the importance of letting employees have the freedom and psychological safety to speak up, ask questions, admit mistakes, and thus improve performance.

Use a performance management tool to track progress

Employees who feel acknowledged and rewarded for their hard work tend to show improved performance over the long term. But in order for you to recognize their achievements, you need to keep track of how they're doing. 

You can use a performance management tool to monitor and measure their performance. This way, you'll be able to see where they're excelling and where they might need extra support. 

💡 Some performance management tools you can use are:

  • PerformYard
  • 15Five
  • Lattice
  • Combine Performance Management and Employee Engagement for Success

    Employee performance and engagement are intricately tied together, and addressing one will inevitably impact the other. 

    Addressing low levels of engagement within your company will improve employee performance, and managing low performance will lead to an increase in employee engagement. 

    Therefore, combining performance management and employee engagement strategies is a synergistic approach that creates a positive feedback loop. 

    Because when employees truly enjoy their jobs, they’re more motivated to come to work every day and give their best, which causes their performance and productivity to skyrocket. 

    On the flip side, when employees are reaching their full potential at work, they’re more likely to feel engaged and motivated to perform even better.

    Ready to engage your people?

    Do you think your company could be doing more to engage employees?

    If you're looking for an all-in-one solution for your innovation, look no further than Ideanote! With our flexible platform you can do everything from collecting ideas, engaging your crowd and analyzing your innovation performance.

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