Keys to employee engagement


By Samantha White

Thirty-six per cent of employees in the UK describe themselves as highly engaged, according to a survey by Red Letter Days for Business.
 
Of the 2,006 respondents to the survey, Employee Engagement: How British Business Measures Up, 48% described their degree of engagement as moderate, and just 4% described themselves as not engaged at all.

Those working in financial services were most engaged (72%), compared with 45% of retail and consumer industry staff and 38% of employees in government and public service.

The respondent’s level of responsibility also appears to influence motivation. Just 39% of employees with no reports described themselves as engaged, compared with 69% of senior managers and department heads. But perhaps there is such a thing as too much responsibility, as the figure falls to 47% amongst CEOs, managing directors, and divisional heads.

Researchers found that factors such as the respondent’s gender, age, length of service, the size of the company, or their manager’s gender, did not have a significant impact on engagement levels.

A focus on development is crucial to a highly engaged workforce. Opportunities to participate in training, whether directly job-related or on personal skills, are also important to fostering engagement, as are discussions about progress made and having a manager or other mentor take an interest and encourage an individual’s development.

Feeling valued, both in terms of their opinions counting and the perception that an employee’s role is important to delivering the overall purpose of the business, is another common element.

Recognition

Recognition of good performance, whether verbal or in the form of a reward, features among the differentiators of highly engaged workplaces.

To be sure, Red Letter Days for Business has a vested interest in these kinds of data. After all, the company specialises in offering reward- and incentive-based gifts aimed at driving employee engagement. But the themes in the data are echoed in other recent reports about engagement and recognition.

Earlier this year, 30% of workers gave poor marks to their company’s recognition methods, according to a survey of North American companies by staffing firm OfficeTeam.

While the occasional pat on the back might seem inconsequential, a lack of praise can lead to a lack of loyalty, which increases the likelihood that an employee leaves for another job. A survey by the American Management Association showed one key impact of dwindling employee loyalty was high turnover. And another survey of UK workers showed that 25% of those planning to pursue other work this year are doing so because they feel underappreciated.

The most common form of recognition, according to Red Letter Day, is in the form of an individual cash bonus (received by 33% of highly engaged employees), followed by a gift voucher (24%). Twenty-four per cent said their manager thanked them verbally on a regular basis, and 11% received a thank-you card or email from their manager.

Samantha White (swhite@aicpa.org) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.