Today’s workforce is more mobile and less skilled. Businesses are more exposed through various websites, allowing employees to rate their employer’s corporate culture. So, while the term Employee Engagement has been around for a long time, modern business pressures are driving a re-energizing of the concept. Culture, engagement and retention have emerged as top issues for business leaders.
What is Employee Engagement?
BusinessDictionary.com defines employment engagement this way:
“Emotional connection an employee feels toward his or her employment organization, which tends to influence his or her behaviors and level of effort in work related activities.” 
However, engagement is more than just another metric to measure the productivity of employees. Employee engagement is a comprehensive organizational approach that motivates employees to actively contribute to its goals and values. Job satisfaction should be as important as attitude and performance. All three components reinforce each other.
David Macleod, founder of the organization Engage for Success, explains: “This is about how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential.” 
What does Modern Employee Engagement Look Like?
In an article for Forbes Magazine, Josh Bersin describes five key elements that make an organization irresistible:
- Meaningful Work
- Hands-On Management
- Positive Work Environment
- Growth Opportunities
- Trust in Leadership
Bersin also says modern organizations are “flatter” which means peers play a larger role in job satisfaction and engagement than managers of past generations. Opportunity for personal development and advancement, or leadership, is also shown to have a greater impact on employee commitment than manager relationships.
Today’s younger employees are drawn to jobs that fulfill their career objectives and offer a sense of social impact. Companies with honest and philanthropic office cultures typically exhibit highly engaged employees. It doesn’t help if the business is perceived as “cool.” Work-life balance is also a high priority for this employee demographic, which requires businesses to build flexibility into their work hours and benefits packages.
Why Cultivate Employee Engagement?
A successful engagement initiative creates an organization people want to work for. But this doesn’t just mean low turnover and high recruiting rates: Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” will “consistently outperform major stock indices by a factor of 2.” The Great Place to Work Institute also cites case studies and industry research to show their “100 Best Companies” enjoy additional industry specific benefits such as better safety records, greater patient satisfaction, reduced shrinkage and a higher quality of job applicants.
Another reason to develop a comprehensive employee engagement plan? Competitive advantage. Gallup research shows that despite a significant percentage of businesses concerned about engagement and retention, only 30% of U.S. employees are highly engaged. Companies with engaged employees are often ahead of the competition.