The benefits of employee engagement for your practice (Proceedings)


The 2008 Employee Engagement Report published by BlessingWhite, a global consulting firm, found that only 29% of employees in North America are engaged and 19% of employees are actually disengaged.

The 2008 Employee Engagement Report published by BlessingWhite, a global consulting firm, found that only 29% of employees in North America are engaged and 19% of employees are actually disengaged. Their report focuses on the relationship between employee engagement and retention. Employees that are not engaged lack job satisfaction and are not committed to their jobs or to company goals. When employees are not engaged, job satisfaction, employee retention, productivity, and customer service may all suffer. How engaged are your employees? How does this affect their efficiency, teamwork and interactions with clients? In light of recent data, these are relevant questions to consider. In these proceedings you will gain insight about employee engagement and learn how to develop a team of employees that have a passion for excellence and are committed to your business.

Defining employee engagement

In their book Human Sigma, two Principals of Gallup, Joe Fleming and Jim Asplund define employee engagement as the "ability to capture heads, hearts and souls of your employees to instill an intrinsic desire and passion for excellence." They say that "engaged" employees are emotionally and psychologically committed to the firm. Blessing White's model of employee engagement focuses on an individual's contribution to company success and personal satisfaction in their job role. Wikipedia provides this straightforward definition: "Employee engagement, also called Work engagement, is a concept that is generally viewed as managing discretionary effort, that is, when employees have choices, they will act in a way that furthers their organization's interests. An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work."

These three definitions reveal that employee engagement involves both job satisfaction and job contribution. The two are often linked because employees that derive rewards and satisfaction from their jobs tend to have a higher job performance.

Assess your employees' level of engagement

The level of employee engagement is critically important in the delivery of veterinary medical care and client service. Partially engaged employees may not be accountable and may not be as efficient and productive as they could be if they were fully engaged. Disengaged employees don't have the inclination or passion to cater to the needs of pet owners and often don't work well with other employees.

With the above definitions of employee engagement in mind, consider how "engaged" you think your employees are. Undoubtedly, you will conclude that your team members have variable degrees of engagement. Blessing White's report outlines 5 levels of engagement based on employee's contributions and job satisfaction. For the sake of simplicity, I recommend you think about whether your employees are fully engaged, partially engaged or disengaged. This should be a relatively easy process if you consider fully engaged employees to be your shining stars and high achievers, disengaged employees to be your "bad apples" with poor job performance and negative attitudes and partially engaged employees to be everyone else on your team. The purpose of this thought process is merely to get you thinking about how your employees rate in terms of their level of engagement. The next step is to thoughtfully evaluate each staff member's job performance and job satisfaction. Create a dialogue with team members and listen carefully to whether they are really happy with their job roles. You may have employees that are productive and accountable but they may not be satisfied with their job. Once you assess your employees' level of engagement, you can begin to formulate a plan to improve their engagement if necessary. Don't forget to consider your own level of engagement if you are a manager or an owner.

Strategies to improve employee engagement

The following strategies will help improve employee engagement resulting in greater job satisfaction, improved employee retention, increased productivity, and enhanced client service which all contribute to greater practice profitability.

1. Provide a Clear Vision. To be engaged employees need to understand the vision and goals of the practice. When you anchor the team to a vision, they understand how they can contribute and how their role contributes to the success of the business. The practice vision and goals must be communicated regularly to be meaningful for team members. Staff meetings are a good time to create a dialogue with team members about the practice vision and goals. Discuss how every employee can help achieve your vision.

2. Focus on Culture. Developing a rewarding culture will go a long way towards improving employee engagement. Begin by making sure team members feel valued. One way to do this is to seek employee feedback on a regular basis. This affords manager and owners the opportunity to address any concerns and helps facilitate creative problem-solving. In addition, recognize and reward superior job performance. Give employees praise about their job performance on a weekly basis at a minimum to reinforce desired behaviors. Build trust and respect with team members by keeping them informed. Even if you have to deliver bad news, employees appreciate accurate, timely information. Keep the lines of communication open between employees and the leadership team. Otherwise, the grapevine will take over which tends to reduce morale.

3. Develop Managers. Managers play an integral role in employee engagement. First and foremost, managers must be engaged themselves before they can be a driver to increase employee engagement in the practice. If managers are frustrated and unhappy about aspects of their job or they lack effective managerial skills, they aren't likely to be a positive influence on the rest of the team. A plan must be formulated to increase managers' engagement if they are not fully engaged.

4. Create Employee Developmental Plans. Employee developmental plans improve job satisfaction and employee engagement because they facilitate training and career development. These plans focus on agreed upon goals for individuals to achieve within a set timeframe. Plans should be tailored for each team member outlining their current strengths and weaknesses of job performance, current skill set and proficiencies, employee's interests and desired skills, training necessary to achieve new skills or proficiency levels and quarterly or monthly goals.

The above strategies will help you reap the benefits of employee engagement. Engaged employees are committed to your business and happy in their jobs which translates to higher employee retention and productivity. Engaged team members can help elevate the level of patient care and client service which also helps drive practice success.


1. Human Sigma, Fleming & Asplund, Gallup, Inc. 2007

2. Blessing White, Inc,


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