I’ve just been reading some research into engagement levels among mid and junior managers in Europe and the Middle East, and I think the research has missed the point about engagement, as well as showing the UK misses the point too, as our previous blog post discussed.

There are some interesting stats though. From the survey, the research found that 29% of respondents are disengaged which is considerably higher than much of Europe. So rather than exclusively trying to copy the American model for engagement, Europe may actually be a more useful place to look for ideas.

What is concerning though is the definition used of engagement in the survey – employees that are prepared to ‘go the extra mile’. Surely it depends on the mood of the employee the time the question was asked? What the employee may see as ‘extra mile’ may not be what the employer considers it to be, and vice versa. Action and performance don’t seem to have factored into the definition, which is the point of engagement!

An effective communication strategy is therefore critical to ensure alignment of employee engagement to the business’ vision and objectives. Engagement connects employees to the brand; it’s when employees ‘buy-in’ to the company emotionally. It isn’t a synonym for involvement which is what this survey seems to think it is.

Business strategy + Communication = Engagement = Productivity & Performance

The survey also found there was confusion about who is responsible for engagement; but none of the respondents thought it was HR! If this is indeed the case, then HR really does need a shake-up. It needs to be more focal, visible and proactive. Drive the engagement agenda, get senior executives involved.

The fact that 82% of executives said that disengaged employees are one of the top three threats they face does at least mean the issue is being taken seriously. But without a clear definition or understanding of engagement, without a joined-up proactive approach from HR and, fundamentally, without an effective communication strategy to support employees, engagement will just remain an ‘issue’.

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