As someone devoted to employee engagement for years, I was thrilled to see Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance through Employee Engagement a comprehensive report coming out of the UK.
It is so encouraging that a major national government is paying so much attention to employee engagement and encouraging business, government, and other organizations to also pay more attention and take action to build awareness and foster action.
Permissions. I was also so pleased to see the open access to the information of this report:
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What follows are 21 powerful points that stood out for me (The bold text statement at the start of each point is mine while the text that follows is from this comprehensive report). There was much more in the report and this is one individuals early assessment of the wealth of information offered.
Does engagement make a difference? Our answer is an unequivocal yes. In the course of the past eight months we have seen many examples of companies and organisations where performance and profitability have been transformed by employee engagement; we have met many employees who are only too keen to explain how their working lives have been transformed; and we have read many studies which show a clear correlation between engagement and performance – and most importantly between improving engagement and improving performance.
The heart of the workplace. Engagement, going to the heart of the workplace relationship between employee and employer, can be a key to unlocking productivity and to transforming the working lives of many people for whom Monday morning is an especially low point of the week.
Learn how good you can be. As Sir Alan Jones, Chairman Emeritus of Toyota UK told us: “Wherever you work, your job as a manager is to make your people be the best they can be – and usually they don’t know just how good they could be. It’s individuals that make the difference”.
No cookie cutters for employee 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.
Get with it people. We hope this report will set out a compelling case to encourage more companies and organisations to adopt engagement approaches. We believe the evidence we cite of a positive correlation between an engaged workforce and improving performance is convincing.
A triple play. Engagement is about establishing mutual respect in the workplace for what people can do and be, given the right context, which serves us all, as individual employees, as companies and organisations and as consumers of public services. It is our firm belief that it can be a triple win: for the individual at work, the enterprise or service, and for the country as a whole.
The scent of engagement. “You sort of smell it, don’t you, that engagement of people as people. What goes on in meetings, how people talk to each other. You get the sense of energy, engagement, commitment, belief in what the organisation stands for,” is how Lord Currie, former Chair of the Office of Communications (Ofcom) and Dean of Cass Business School, puts it. As a number of business leaders told us, “You know it when you see it.”
1 of 50 definitions. “Engagement is about creating opportunities for employees to connect with their colleagues, managers and wider organisation. It is also about creating an environment where employees are motivated to want to connect with their work and really care about doing a good job…It is a concept that places flexibility, change and continuous improvement at the heart of what it means to be an employee and an employer in a twenty-first century workplace.” (Professor Katie Truss1)
Make it authentic. Although improved performance and productivity is at the heart of engagement, it cannot be achieved by a mechanistic approach which tries to extract discretionary effort by manipulating employees’ commitment and emotions. Employees see through such attempts very quickly; they lead instead to cynicism and disillusionment. By contrast, engaged employees freely and willingly give discretionary effort, not as an ‘add on’, but as an integral part of their daily activity at work.
More than a survey. 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.
Engagement = Performance. 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.
Good stuff being done already. These and many other examples suggest that when it comes to engagement, it is not a case of inventing something new; good practice is out there, transforming organisations and transforming lives.
The employee benefit of engagement. 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.
Happy@Work. Eighty-six per cent of engaged employees say they very often feel happy at work, as against 11 per cent of the disengaged. Forty-five per cent of the engaged say they get a great deal of their life happiness from work, against eight per cent of the disengaged. (Gallup 2006)
4 Major Drivers. 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.
The evidence is there. As John Purcell told us. “Despite the difficulties and weaknesses it is hard to ignore the volume of studies which show, to varying degrees, with varying sophistication, a positive relationship between high performance/involvement work practices and outcome measures.”
Disengagement is more than a bad day. Despite the compelling case for employee engagement, we know that a significant percentage of the workforce feel disconnected from the work they do and the people they work for. Whilst accepting that all of us are capable of having a ‘bad day at work’ we do not accept the inevitability of work being just one bad day after another.
Get planning and doing. Accor report that 75 per cent of leaders have no engagement plan or strategy even though 90 per cent say engagement impacts on business success.
Managing to Engage. An engaging manager is at the heart of success in engaging the workforce. Accenture’s internal research showed that 80 per cent of the variation in engagement levels was down to the line manager. As a result, employees’ most important relationship at work is with their line manager; people join organisations, but they leave managers.
Engaging Manager’s Actions. Firstly, engaging managers offer clarity for what is expected from individual members of staff, which involves some stretch, and much appreciation and feedback/coaching and training. The second key area is treating their people as individuals, with fairness and respect and with a concern for the employee’s well-being. Thirdly, managers have a very important role in ensuring that work is designed efficiently and effectively.
The voice of engagement. The ‘ Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work for’ found that feeling listened to was the most important factor in determining how much respondents valued their organisation. Being heard reinforces a sense of belonging within an organisation and a belief that ones actions can have an impact. Richard Baker, Non-executive Chairman of Virgin Active (and former CEO of Alliance Boots) told us: “Employee morale is the first step to productivity improvements. Give your people a damn good listening to, and act on what you learn.”
The MacLeod report. There is much more in this report and it will guide the UK’s employee engagement efforts for the coming year. I strong encourage you to study this report, regardless of what country you are from and join the powerful employee engagement movement.
Click here to download a PDF of the full report and get engaged!