We’re kicking off a new, four part series this week on the importance of Employee Engagement. In the coming weeks, we’ll tackle topics such as Onboarding, Company Culture and Recognition. We wanted to start by addressing what Employee Engagement really means and why it’s so critical to the success of a company.

So what is Employee Engagement?

It’s the passion, excitement and sense of inclusion that an employee feels toward their individual role and toward their organization as a whole. This directly affects the quality of the individual’s work and their effectiveness in becoming an evangelist for their company.

Gallup says that only 33% of employees consider themselves “engaged” at work (a separate HBR report puts it even lower, at 24%). Why is this important? These same studies also show that employees that are engaged show an increase in productivity by over 20%. The more engaged an employee is, the more satisfied they are, the more productive they are and the more loyal they are.

Loyalty is critically important, given the difficulty of attracting, hiring and retaining top talent these days. Another article from the Harvard Business Review noted that 33% of new hires start to look for a new job within their first six months. That number only increases the younger the new hire is. Studies show that replacing a qualified, salaried employee can cost businesses anywhere between 6 to 9 month’s worth of salary, on average. Turnover is a costly game.

So in an effort to not be a Debbie Downer, let’s talk about some positive numbers. Another HBR study reports that 71% of respondents rank Employee Engagement as being very important to achieving high levels of success, ranking only behind High Levels of Customer Service and Effective Communication. Clearly those two are critical in the success of an organization, so the fact the Employee Engagement is in the same neighborhood demonstrates how important it is.

So now that we’ve pounded into your head just how important Employee Engagement is, a logical next step is figuring out ways to ensure our employees are properly engaged.

A quick Google search will share examples of companies in Silicon Valley luring new hires in with the promise of a fun internal culture with company happy hours, nap pods and free haircuts! This is great, as it helps create a buzz factor. But let’s be honest, we’re not all Google.

You’ll also read stories of companies implementing mobile work environments and tying their efforts directly into supporting and providing volunteer opportunities within the community, which are also impactful. But since we are a promotional company, we’re going to focus on what we know. Product. Specifically, how can you use branded merchandise to help create a company your potential hires will hear about, want to work for and ultimately, be proud of and want to stay with. So our next post is going to focus specifically on the importance of having a proper on-boarding process. After that, we’ll get more into company culture and how critical it is to make an effort in actually recognizing the employees you do have.