As an employee we can all understand the each person wants a job that is worthwhile and inspires them. In the same way we can understand that employers want employees who will do their best work or ‘go the extra mile’. 

There is now a wealth of evidence out there about why organisations need to consider improving engagement and the benefits for an organisations’ bottom line. The Engage for Success movement have been responsible for collating much of the evidence from industry and academia. 

The highlights: economy 

– Only around a third of UK employees say they are actively engaged at work;

– 20 million workers are not delivering their full capability or realising their potential at work;

– 64% of people said they have more to offer in skills and talent than they are currently being asked to demonstrate at work; and 

– UK productivity was 20% lower than the rest of the G7 in 2011. 

The highlights: business benefits

Companies with engagement scores in the top quartile have twice the annual net profit of those in the bottom quartile, demonstrate revenue growth 2.5 times greater than those in the bottom quartile and average 12% higher customer advocacy scores.

What are the biggest factors contributing to employee engagement?

A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed that the top five aspects contributing to employee engagement in 2012 were: relationship with co-workers, opportunities to use skills/abilities at work, contribution of work to organisations business goals, relationship with immediate supervisor, and ability to accomplish work goals. (SHRM, 2012. Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement: A Research Report.)

What does all this research mean for your organisations?

About a third of your employees are probably not actively engaged. If you were to engage some of this disengaged group of employees there is likely to be an impact on your organisations the bottom line. The main areas to target your actions to improve employee engagement would be on relationships with co-workers and line managers, encouraging employees to use their skills at work, and providing individuals with achievable objectives, which are linked to the organisations goals.

Measuring and improving engagement doesn’t have to cost

Once you understanding how employees feel about the organisation and their overall jobs its easy to promote employee engagement within the organisation. You can simply accomplish this though a focus group discussion with employees on what is working and what is not working, you can also take this one step further and ask for their ideas on how to fix a problem they have observed. 

Considering the main contributors to employee engagement are likely to come up in your discussions there are some simple steps that you can take to help address employee engagement in your organisation:

1. Team building activities encourage co-workers to work together toward a common goal. Activities also promote a positive relationship between workers and their managers. Some examples of team-building activities include bowling, company picnic or an overnight retreat.

2. Train line managers and regularly involve them in strategy meetings and activities. This will enable line managers to better understand the organisation’s vision and share it with their direct reports and build it into their objectives. Improved communication, information sharing at this level will help develop a reciprocal feedback loop and encourage a trusting relationship with staff.

3. Develop your existing employees. Employees frequently have skills and abilities beyond the position for which they were hired. HR professionals can help their organisations train and promote their employees to fill positions that require higher-level skills. This will then open up positions that require lower skill levels, which, in turn, may be easier to fill.

Measuring employee engagement in your organisation: 

From the insanely simple…

1. At the end of each day member of staff leaves the office they encounter a display of three large buckets. One bucket is full of tennis balls. The other two buckets are marked ‘H’ for ‘Happy’, and ‘U’ for ‘Unhappy’, respectively. As staff exit for the evening, they grab a tennis ball from the full bucket and place it into either the ‘Happy’ bucket or the ‘Unhappy’ bucket. The next morning a member of staff tallies the previous days’ results, posts them on the company intranet, and re-sets the bucket voting system for the new day. The organisation can track the results and trends over time, and are able to take the temperature of the organisation to some extent each day.

2. A recent trend is to ask only one survey question: “On a 1-10 scale would you recommend your company as a great place to work?”. Those that score a 8, 9, or 10 are called your “promoters” and are likely to talk about how great their job and employer is to anyone who will listen. The logic of these one-question surveys is that employees are much more likely to answer a survey if it is only one question, and the 10-point scale provides a wide enough range to capture diverse opinions. The biggest problem with these one-question surveys is that what do you do if you get a score of 3? Unless you start asking follow-up questions, you have no idea why you got a low score and what to do about improving it.

3. Undertake a more detailed employee engagement survey this will help benchmark where you are at the moment and you can compare your organisation against these results in 6-12 months’ time.


Jaime Johnson is a dedicated employee research expert with over 10 years experience in helping organisations gain deeper insight and understanding of what makes their employees tick. Currently a Director at The Survey Initiative – an employee research organisation.  Jaime has worked with organisations as diverse as the Andipharm, Epson, Royal Society of Chemistry, PhonepayPlus, Severn Deanery and Babcock. Over the past 3 to 4 years a large degree of her work has focused on employee engagement and assisting organisations in getting a grounding on what is driving engagemement in their organisation – through a range of research techniques from surveys to workshops. 

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