Nearly a year ago, David MacLeod and Nita Clarke were commissioned by the Department for Business (BIS) to take an in-depth look at employee engagement in the UK and to report on its potential benefits for organisations and employees. Mr. MacLeod summarises the main findings of the report well in this 2.5 minute video.

In brief, Mr. MacLeod reiterates the strong correlation between engaged employees and strong organisational results as well as the need for strong engagement coming out of recession to face stiff competition from BRIC. He also reiterated the four things that reoccur in organisations with high engagement levels:

  1. Employees have a clear sense of where the organisation is going and how their role fits within it
  2. Managers are engaging in that they offer employees clarity on expectations, lots of reinforcing feedback, how to organise work effectively, and individual treatment and respect
  3. Employees have a real voice and open communication of both the bad and the good is common
  4. Stated values and behaviours are brought together

But now Kenexa research is showing that UK employees are engaged less now than they were at the height of the recession (currently 51% engaged, compared with 54% in 2009). And yet:

“The report shows high levels of employee engagement are linked to business leaders who inspire confidence in the future; managers who recognise employees and emphasise improvement as top priorities; exciting work and the opportunity to develop; and organisations that demonstrate a genuine responsibility to their employees and communities.”

These 2010 Kenexa findings on factors that contribute to employees choosing to engage is very similar to MacLeod’s 2009 report – even with the drop in engagement. This leads me to believe the factors for engagement aren’t changing, just the company’s ability to support those factors.

The important questions for you to consider are:

  1. What are you doing to clearly communicate to your employees your organisation’s changing strategic objectives and how they can/do help achieve them?
  2. How are you encouraging managers to treat their employees as individuals with lots of positive, reinforcing feedback?
  3. What are you doing to give employees a voice?
  4. How are you linking company values to employee behaviours in a meaningful, honest way?
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