According to a July 2012 UK employment trends survey (CBI Harvey Nash), employee engagement outstripped labour cost containment as the top workforce priority of UK businesses. Yet despite this, we are experiencing what has been termed an ‘employee engagement deficit’ which is costing our economy an estimated £26 billion a year. With only one third of employees stating that they feel engaged in the workplace businesses are witnessing the widest productivity gap in this country since 2005.
The government is so concerned about this deficit that in 2011 David Cameron set up the Engage for Success employer-led Taskforce on Employee Engagement, commenting that “with only a third of UK workers saying they feel engaged, I encourage all companies to get involved in this important initiative.
The Engage for Success Taskforce is comprised of partners from some big name organisations including M&S, Sainsbury’s, Whitbread and BAE Systems. A spokesperson for the Taskforce describes employee engagement as “a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being”.
Why is Employee Engagement so important? Performance and Productivity are not the only ingredients of successful Employee Engagement. Creative input, absenteeism, employee retention and customer service are just a handful of those areas of the workplace which have been positively influenced by it.
As defined by DecisionWise Leadership Intelligence, “engagement is a positive, meaningful and fulfilling affective state resulting in an individual choosing to direct energy, enthusiasm, and dedication towards work-related goals”.
A new culture of engagement may well be easier to entice new staff entering the organisation but there may well be instances where existing employees are resistant to or wary of change. In such instances, it may well be of benefit to assign those employees with a greater level of responsibility so that they have more ownership so therefore feel more accountable and have a vested interest in the success of the organisation.
Engagement enables voice and influence which in turn help to avoid the frustration and disengagement that can occur in an organisation where employees are unable to deliver the service they would like to. For the organisation, continuous improvement and high levels of productivity really largely on employee engagement and involvement in the workplace.
Employee engagement is not an end in itself. It is a continuous, bidirectional process during which organisations must work to engage an employee so that they experience a blend of job satisfaction, organisational commitment, job involvement and feelings of empowerment and in return deliver higher productivity and competence. If an organisation does not meet its objectives despite the involvement and effort of employees, then there is the risk that they will become demotivated and therefore disengaged. An engaged workforce is essential to an organisation as without it, they will not be able to deliver their overall mission.
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