Mollie Bell

Engagement is more than benefits

There’s a big difference between 'satisfied' and 'engaged' staff.

July 10, 2019

“A good job with benefits” typically is considered a fair deal for employees.

But that’s not necessarily enough to inspire staff to embrace an organization’s culture and values in a way that adds value to the enterprise or carries forth its strategic initiatives.

Instead, thoughtful, deliberate employee engagement initiatives are the best way to connect employees to your top priorities, says Mollie Bell, chief development officer at $5.5 billion asset Ent Credit Union in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Employee engagement matters to your business results,” says Bell, who addressed the 2019 CUNA Finance Council Conference.

She cites a study from Gallup that shows business units that measured in the top quarter for engaged employees outperformed those in the bottom quartile by 10% in customer loyalty/engagement, 21% in profitability, and 20% in productivity.

At the same time, engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the organization, according to Gallup. Only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged at work vs. 70% at the world's top organizations.

Bell describes the difference between “satisfied” employees and those who are fully engaged: “You care about the success of the organization. You believe in the mission. When you’re driving to work, you are excited about getting there. You care about the people you work with. One indicator differentiating ‘engagement’ from ‘satisfaction’ is that you feel like you’re going to work with friends.”

Engagement starts with leadership because leaders are responsible for the organization's culture, she says, citing a quote attributed to management guru Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Jayne Hitman, CUNA business development manager, explains further. “Engagement is about how we create an environment that supports our employees so they want to believe and live out our mission, our vision, and our values,” she says.

“The ultimate goal of engagement is that people are committed to your organization and they're committed to delivering your promise to members.”

This requires employers to give staff a stake in the organization’s outcome, Hitman adds. “It’s about giving staff a voice and asking for their opinions. Being transparent gives employees a feeling of connectedness.”

Hitman calls engagement a conversation with employees. “First you have to define your culture  and your values. Those are the promises you live by. Then you ask employees,  ‘How can we make this happen?’”

Stay tuned: We’ll continue the conversation about employee engagement next week with a profile of Electro Savings Credit Union’s “Power of You” program.