The 3 things I know about employee engagement? You know this is on your mind on a late summer Friday, so check it:
1. Discretionary effort is the only outcome of true employee engagement worth discussing. Everything else? ..yawn... Decreased turnover? I get it, but discretionary effort (effort/stuff talented people don't have to give you but do when they're engaged) is where the money is at. Let's put it this way, if reducing turnover gets you a nice fake crystal company award, unlocking discretionary effort at a company gets you a beach house. Which would you rather have?
2. In every company, you have 30% of your employee base that's actively bought in and rowing with you, 50% in the middle that are doing what's required and not much else (no discretionary effort) and 20% that I'll affectionately called "corporate terrorists". The latter are the ones trying to sabotage everything you're trying to do. Your goal should be to remove the terrorists every time you see catch them planting the cultural equivalent of an IDE, then to convert as many of the neutral folks as you can.
3. Employees who are engaged and thus give discretionary effort are the only ones that are innovating in your organization. That innovation can happen in a lot of ways, both big and small, but it's a mindset, and it makes them many times more valuable than a regular, neutrally engaged employee. Back to the crystal award vs beach house argument... Employees who are engaged (sometimes with no connection to what you do as an employer, it's just who they are - which is a recruiting issue) are the ones with the capability to change the game for your company.
Below is the best video I've seen related to Employee Engagement, and it's from my friend Bob Kelleher at the (aptly named) Employee Engagement Group. Check them out, check the video out and start thinking what the true fruit of engagement - discretionary effort - is worth to your company.