Employee engagement might seem like a fluffy metric that has little significance outside of the HR department. What does it mean, anyway? Liking your job? Being satisfied with your paycheck? Having a boss who buys you a beer on Fridays?
Well, it's sort of each of the above, and none of the above. CSO Insights' 2014 Sales Compensation and Performance Management Study report quotes a definition from James K. Harter, Ph.D., Frank L. Schmidt, Ph.D., and Emily A. Killham: "An employee's involvement with, commitment to, and satisfaction with work." Other firms' and thought leaders' definitions include clauses on the willingness to expend discretionary effort at work and how positively people feel about their coworkers, among other aspects.
And it isn't only a qualitative measurement. Today, there are numerous tests on the market to quantitatively assess employee engagement, including Gallup's Q12 test, Qualtrics' assessment software, and CEB's employee engagement surveys.
However, you still might not be convinced that, as a sales leader, this is a metric you should care about. But you soon will be.
According to CSO Insights data, employee engagement has a significant impact on quota attainment and turnover. A study revealed that at organizations where less than 50% of salespeople were actively engaged in selling efforts, only 39% achieved quota. Compare this to organizations boasting over 75% active engagement, with 63% quota attainment. Quite the difference.
Regarding turnover, sales forces with low engagement lost 14% of their people involuntarily. This percentage shrunk to 8% at organizations with high engagement.
"Active engagement is neither happenstance nor simply a 'nice' idea," the report states. "Rather, the data show that highly engaged firms, especially their managers, are supported and actively 'in the game,' coaching their reps and being supported with timely/accurate metrics -- all of which translates into better performance numbers."
Sales leaders crave performance, and performance is tied to employee engagement. Maybe it's time to get more engaged with engagement after all.