Employee engagement has emerged as a powerful tool in helping businesses drive growth and obtain a competitive edge.

Research suggests that when employees are highly engaged, organizations experience lower turnover rates and reduced employee absenteeism. Highly engaged employees are found to be more innovative and creative, as well as more willing to go above and beyond the scope of their role. This, in turn, leads to increased productivity and improved organizational performance. Engaged employees are also more likely to be motivated, satisfied and committed to their work, which enhances their loyalty.

Evidence indicates that employee engagement levels also impact customer satisfaction, as engaged employees are more likely to deliver outstanding service. The State of the American Workforce Report revealed that organizations with engaged teams have 10% higher customer ratings, 28% less shrinkage, 70% fewer safety incidents, and 21% greater profitability.

To improve employee engagement, HR leaders must develop and implement a robust employee engagement strategy. Employee benefits are a crucial part of such a strategy given their direct impact on company culture, and thus, employee engagement.

92% of employees cite comprehensive health benefits as most important to them. Women's and family health benefits, in particular, can help increase employee engagement by improving employee health and enabling employees to better balance their family-building journeys, parenting duties, and professional responsibilities.

Understanding employee engagement factors

An organization's mission to improve employee engagement needs to start with defining what employee engagement truly is. This includes understanding the mental and emotional components of employee engagement, and the core factors that promote engagement.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement refers to the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels toward their job and organization. It goes beyond job satisfaction and when employees feel happy in the workplace: it encompasses the emotional and psychological commitment employees have, which influences their willingness to contribute to the organization's success.

Key components of employee engagement

There are no universally agreed components of employee engagement. However, many agree they are based on the thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviors that employees have about their overall work experience. In his paper, Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement, William Kahn identified three principal dimensions of employee engagement:

Emotional engagement

Emotional engagement refers to the feelings and attitudes an employee has towards their job, colleagues, and the organization. It involves the emotional investment an employee makes, which influences their motivation and job satisfaction. Examples include:

  • Sense of belonging: Feeling part of the team and the organization.
  • Passion for work: Genuine enthusiasm and excitement about daily tasks and projects.
  • Organizational pride: Pride in being associated with the organization and its mission.
  • Emotional well-being: Feeling valued, respected, and supported in the workplace.
  • Positive relationships: Strong, positive interactions with colleagues and supervisors.

Cognitive engagement

Cognitive engagement involves the intellectual investment and mental effort an employee dedicates to their job. It is about how employees perceive their work and the organization, and how they process and engage with information. Cognitive engagement encompasses:

  • Understanding goals: Clear comprehension of the organization’s goals and how their role contributes.
  • Problem-solving: Active participation in solving work-related challenges.
  • Innovation: Seeking out and implementing new ideas and improvements.
  • Focus and concentration: Staying focused on tasks and maintaining high levels of attention.
  • Learning and development: Commitment to personal and professional growth through continuous learning.

Physical engagement

Physical engagement relates to the physical energy and effort employees put into their work. It includes the actions and behaviors employees exhibit while performing their job duties such as:

  • Attendance and punctuality: Consistent presence at work and adherence to schedules.
  • Active participation: Engaging actively in meetings, discussions, and team activities.
  • High energy levels: Demonstrating enthusiasm and energy in performing job tasks.
  • Workplace involvement: Participation in workplace events and activities.
  • Effort in tasks: Willingness to go the extra mile to complete tasks and projects efficiently.

The difference between employee engagement and satisfaction

Employee engagement and employee satisfaction, while related, are distinct concepts. Employee satisfaction measures how content and happy employees are with their job conditions, such as pay, benefits, and work-life balance, ensuring their basic needs and expectations are met.

In contrast, employee engagement goes deeper. It involves the emotional and psychological commitment employees have to their work and organization. Engaged employees are not only satisfied but also motivated, enthusiastic, and willing to go above and beyond their job responsibilities, actively contributing to an organization's success. While satisfaction ensures employees are content, engagement drives higher productivity and loyalty.

The core factors of employee engagement

Employee engagement is driven by several core factors that collectively influence an employee’s commitment, motivation, and loyalty to their organization. Understanding and effectively managing these factors can lead to a more engaged, productive, and satisfied workforce.

Recognition and rewards

Only one in three US workers strongly agree that they've received praise or recognition at work in the past week, yet recognition and rewards play a crucial role in motivating employees and fostering loyalty. Organizations with good recognition programs are 12 times more likely to have a highly engaged workforce.

When employees feel appreciated for their hard work and achievements, their morale and job satisfaction increase, which enhances their commitment to the organization. Over 90% of workers are more likely to repeat a specific action if they receive recognition for it, and almost 40% of US employees feel they would put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.

Types of rewards and recognition that resonate with employees include:

  • Financial bonuses
  • Gift cards
  • Public recognition from direct supervisors
  • Private recognition
  • Peer-to-peer recognition
  • Additional time off
  • Personalized gifts
  • Plaques, trophies and certificates
  • Concessions, such as leaving work early on Friday or a free lunch from the office canteen

Employee benefits

Employee benefits are essential in driving engagement, as they address the well-being and security of employees. Comprehensive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, women's and family health benefits, and wellness programs show employees that the organization cares about their long-term welfare in and outside of work, increasing their attachment and dedication to the company.

One study revealed that employees who are most satisfied with their total benefits offer estimate their own level of engagement 11% higher than the average and 25% higher than employees who are least satisfied. The proportion of employees who view themselves as ambassadors for their organizations is also 21% higher among those who are most satisfied with the benefits they receive from their employer.

Career development opportunities

Growth prospects and encouraging continuous learning are vital for retaining top talent and engaging employees. 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in training and development programs. Effective professional development initiatives include:

  • Mentorship programs
  • Work shadowing
  • Training workshops
  • Conferences and seminars
  • Online learning
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Coaching opportunities
  • Clear career progression paths

Work-life balance

Employee engagement is pivotal for company success, but studies show there can be too much of a good thing. While 41% of employees are categorized as healthily engaged, almost one in five experience high levels of engagement and burnout while a further 35% are "moderately engaged-exhausted."

Overall, 77% of US professionals report experiencing burnout at some stage. 23% of HR leaders cite it as the top concern for motivating employees and 20% say that the blurring of an employee's work responsibilities and personal life impacts their engagement.

To address employee burnout and engage employees, it's imperative to foster a company culture that supports a healthy work-life balance and accommodates shifting circumstances and priorities throughout employees' different life stages.

For example, flexible work arrangements have been found to positively impact employee engagement and employee retention. Additional strategies to support a healthy work-life balance and reduce burnout include:

  • Remote work options
  • Paid personal leave
  • Paid parental leave
  • Regular workload assessments
  • Disconnect and overtime policies
  • Employee health and wellness programs
  • Healthy work environments
  • Regular breaks
  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs)

Maven’s State of Women’s and Family Health Benefits 2024

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Maven’s State of Women’s and Family Health Benefits 2024

The pivotal role of health benefits in employee engagement

There is a wealth of research about drivers of employee engagement in the workplace but disengaged employees can be the result of external factors such as physical health conditions, mental health issues, changes in personal circumstances, and financial concerns.

It's important to acknowledge these factors and look at how you can support employees to boost employee engagement. Health benefits are an effective strategy that employers are utilizing.

Overview of health benefits impact on engagement

Employee productivity and engagement are closely linked to health and well-being. For example:

  • 28% of employees find it difficult to separate work life from non-work life and have poorer mental health as a result
  • Presenteeism costs companies around 57 days per employee, per year.
  • Workers with chronic diseases have lower work engagement than employees without chronic diseases.
  • 38% of people have considered leaving their jobs and almost one in five people have quit their jobs due to the impact of fertility treatment.
  • Financially stressed employees tend to be far less engaged in their work, more distracted, and more likely to seek another job.

Health benefits can contribute to better overall employee well-being which in turn, creates a healthier, happier and more engaged workforce. Standard health insurance can reduce turnover by around 40%, but organizations with extended health coverage see around 10% higher employee engagement than companies without such benefits in place.

If you want your health benefits to have as positive an impact as possible, you must consider the diverse needs of your workforce when designing and implementing your offering. For instance, approximately one in six people worldwide experience fertility challenges, and providing employees with access to preconception support can help them with their family-building journeys. 25% of Maven fertility members achieve pregnancy without assisted reproductive technology.

Women's and family health benefits as engagement boosters

Around three-quarters of women aged 25-34 hold a job, with 84% working full-time. Of over 83 million families in the US, 80% have at least one employed member. 31% of employees are currently expecting a child or potentially planning to grow their family within the next two years.

For these employees who are navigating fertility journeys, making reproductive choices for their future and balancing work and parenting, health benefits can make all the difference to their engagement at work.

Fertility and maternity support

Cozen O'Connor employees struggled with confusion and stress over fertility treatment coverage. To address this, Cozen O'Connor introduced Maven Managed Benefit, providing personalized support and access to top clinics via Maven's platform. Since its launch, 56% of employees in the Fertility & Family Building program have enrolled, with 70% of reimbursements for fertility treatments and 30% for egg freezing. This initiative has alleviated the emotional burden and provided clarity and support for employees undergoing fertility treatment.

Healthcare benefits can also be extended to support employees postpartum. The tech and media sectors have some of the highest employee turnover rates. The digital media company, Buzzfeed, were looking for a way to retain their skilled millennial employees and help them return to work after parental leave. Using Maven, Buzzfeed has given employees access to postpartum specialists, pediatricians, and career coaches. This investment in maternity support has resulted in 94% of Buzzfeed employees returning to work, well above the national average of 57%.

Mental health support

Over 90% of American employees say that company-sponsored mental health coverage is, or would be, important for workplace culture. In the women's and family health benefits sphere, 60% of global companies offer mental health support that spans the family and reproductive health journey, seeing a positive impact on employee engagement as a result.

For Maven members, 33% are better able to manage anxiety and depression due to the level of support provided and 96% of our Fertility & Family Building members state they are more loyal to their employer.

Personalized health and wellness programs

Comprehensive health care needs to encompass the diverse needs of employees from different backgrounds, of different ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations, and at different ages and life stages.

86% of employers and 75% of employees view offering inclusive health care benefits as “very” important, a sentiment echoed by social game developer, Zynga. The company implemented Maven benefits in 2018 and rolled out Maven Wallet for employees navigating fertility, egg freezing, surrogacy, and adoption at the start of 2020. When asked about their motivations, Bryan Aycock, Zynga's Senior Global Benefits Manager, said:

"The fertility benefits provided under our medical plans were a bit restrictive, and due to medical necessity barriers, lacked support for some of our employees who wanted to start a family. Carving out our existing benefits and implementing Maven Wallet has removed barriers and allowed us to extend coverage for adoption and surrogacy—truly being able to support every employee’s journey on their way to creating their family."

Feedback from employees about these inclusive health benefits has been overwhelmingly positive, with one employee sharing:

"My wife just gave birth to our second daughter three weeks ago. I had signed her up for Maven months ago when I saw the announcement, and we didn’t think much of it until after we got home from the hospital. We were experiencing various small issues/problems: feeding best practices, drug interactions, tips to prevent illness getting to the baby. None of these issues was significant enough to warrant a clinic visit, much less a call to a doctor (who probably wouldn’t return our call anyway).

However, within a few hours we were live video chatting with Maven professionals, who were amazingly knowledgeable, helpful, responsive, and overall incredibly nice people. I’m not using figurative language when I say my wife slept better because these questions were not nagging her brain."

Implementing effective employee engagement strategies

Successfully implementing employee engagement strategies involves understanding current engagement levels, enhancing benefits, and building a supportive workplace culture. These elements work together to create an environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and committed to their organization.

Assessing current engagement levels

To be able to improve engagement, you first need to have a sound understanding of the current engagement landscape by assessing how employees feel about such things as the organizational culture at work, whether the company mission and their personal values align, and if they feel they have the opportunity for professional and personal growth.

Tools to measure employee engagement

To effectively measure employee engagement, you can use tools such as employee surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews. Surveys like the Gallup Q12 engagement survey or custom-designed questionnaires can provide quantitative data on engagement levels.

Encourage employees to give honest, constructive feedback and share their own employee experience for qualitative data. As well as gaining insights into their current emotional commitment, you can also use this as an opportunity to get their perspective on changes that can be implemented to improve the engagement level of their workforce.

Interpreting employee engagement data

Interpreting this data involves analyzing trends, identifying strengths, and pinpointing areas for improvement. For example, low scores in areas like recognition or career development can guide targeted actions to create more engaged workers and reduce employee turnover.

Strategies for enhancing engagement through benefits

Enhancing engagement through benefits starts with designing health benefits that align with employee needs, such as comprehensive health insurance, mental health support, wellness programs, fertility and family-building support, and maternity and newborn care.

To ensure these benefits resonate with employees, you should regularly gather employee feedback and involve them in the benefits selection process. Communication is key—clearly explain the benefits and how to access them, and maintain feedback loops to continuously improve benefits offerings based on employee input.

Building a culture that fosters engagement

A top-down approach drives employee engagement: employers need to showcase the company values so that employees recognize the behaviors and attitudes that fuel individual and business success. The conduct of leadership and company culture are important factors in this regard.

Leadership plays a pivotal role in fostering a culture of engagement. Leaders should model engagement behaviors, such as demonstrating commitment, praising employee contributions, and encouraging open communication.

Creating a supportive, trustworthy, and inclusive workplace also helps promote employee engagement. It involves promoting diversity, ensuring all voices are heard, and providing resources for professional growth and well-being. This inclusive culture makes employees feel valued and motivated to contribute to the organization’s success.

Driving employee engagement with Maven's women's and family health benefits

Employee engagement refers to the level of enthusiasm and commitment a worker feels toward their work and organization and is based on emotional, cognitive and physical factors. Actively engaged employees strive to support a company's goals whereas disengaged employees can lower productivity and profitability.

Drivers of employee engagement include rewards and recognition, the opportunity to learn new skills and employee benefits. Employee benefits, in particular, have a clear connection to an employee's level of engagement and overall organizational success.

Women's and family health benefits are perfectly placed to provide inclusive, quality care that can help employees create a better work-life balance and improve their physical and mental health outcomes, while also enhancing employee engagement.

If you're an employer who wants to drive employee engagement and business growth with holistic care, you can start by evaluating your existing strategies and redesigning your offering. Let Maven help you. Book a demo today to find out more. 

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