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Does Employee Engagement Really Matter ?


In July 2009, a comprehensive study into employee engagement in the UK was published.

‘Engaging for Success: enhancing performance through employee engagement’ is a 157 page document which is openly available. It comes at no cost and with complete freedom of reproduction, ie. “ The text in this document may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium providing it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context”.

I’ve spent some time reading through it and I’ve picked out what I consider to be some significant points, although there will undoubtedly be other key facts that I’ve missed !

What follows are my ‘headings’ and then a copy/paste from the actual text of the report.

Engagement REALLY matters
Levels of engagement matter because employee engagement can correlate with performance. Even more significantly, there is evidence that improving engagement correlates with improving performance – and this is at the heart of our argument why employee engagement matters to the UK.

Develop your own definition of engagement
The way employee engagement operates can take many forms – that is one of the most fascinating aspects of the topic – and the best models are those which have been custom-developed for the institution.

Don’t stop after the survey – measure first, then take action
We have also been struck by the number of people who told us of the equal importance of using instinct and judgment. It is also clear that simply doing a survey and publishing the results is not the same as an engagement strategy. Measuring engagement is simply a tool to allow you to find out how engaged your people are. Andrew Templeman, of the Cabinet Office Capability Building Programme said: “No one ever got a pig fat by weighing it”.

Four big factors which influence engagement
1. Leadership which ensures a strong, transparent and explicit organisational culture which gives employees a line of sight between their job and the vision and aims of the organisation.

2.  Engaging managers who offer clarity, appreciation of employees’ effort and contribution, who treat their people as individuals and who ensure that work is organised efficiently and effectively so that employees feel they are valued, and equipped and supported to do their job.

3. Employees feeling they are able to voice their ideas and be listened to, both about how they do their job and in decision-making in their own department, with joint sharing of problems and challenges and a commitment to arrive at joint solutions.

4. A belief among employees that the organisation lives its values, and that espoused behavioural norms are adhered to, resulting in trust and a sense of integrity.

Benefits to the employee
Engagement is not just about macro-economics. There is a measurable and significant win for the individual engaged employee. Studies in this field demonstrate beyond doubt that individuals maximise their psychological well-being when they are engaged in meaningful work that provides positive emotional experiences. As our working lives extend with growing longevity, people will want and demand a greater sense of well-being at work.

You can download the full report here