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The Importance of Employee Engagement: myth or reality?


Mutual gain employment relationships, creating a win-win for employee and employer, are crucial for the success of any business. A Gallup poll from 2011-2012 revealed that 17% of its respondents considered themselves to be engaged, 57% considered that they were not engaged (essentially workers putting little energy or passion into their work) and 26% were actively disengaged. Troublesome figures for employers considering that engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above average productivity according to the Workplace Research Foundation. Another Gallup poll found “disengaged” employees cost the U.S $450 billion to $550 billion per year, and that was excluding the ‘not engaged’ workers! It is unsurprising therefore that culture and engagement is often seen as one of the top challenges for any organisation.

In a social media crazed society, employees are perfectly positioned to be loyal advocates, enhancing their company’s reputation. Engaged employees are more likely to take to sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter and share their company’s posts; in turn boosting its social media profile – hello business. By the same token, employees are also perfectly positioned to be an employer’s biggest social media headache, so keeping staff happy is vital to retaining a positive company reputation.

Not surprisingly disengaged employees are more likely to leave companies than their engaged counterparts. Replacing staff comes at a cost. Research by Oxford Economics in ‘The Cost of the Brain Drain’ reveals that in 2014 the average cost of replacing a single employee earning over £25,000 in a legal, retail, accountancy, media or IT based role stood at a staggering £30,614. Not to mention the time spent administering the employee’s resignation, recruiting for their replacement, interviewing prospective employees, arranging periods of cover where necessary and eventually training that new employee.

Disengaged workers threaten the concept of collaborative working  which is often seen as the heart of innovative ideas and solutions, tending to withdraw, avoiding working with colleagues and being reluctant to share their knowledge and skills for the benefit of the company. Employers should not assume in such circumstances that it’s just a case of one bad egg. Negative employee attitudes can prove influential on the attitudes of other workers and pose a further threat to collaborative working within the business.

So how do you engage workers?

Companies need to ensure that their employees are happy and motivated. Simple strategies such as providing opportunities for career progression, ensuring employees are given fair salaries and reward based incentives are a big leap toward a happier workforce. In rewarding workers for sharing information and ideas, employees will feel motivated and incentivised to continue to do so, benefiting the business as a whole. Flexible working has attracted significant favour with employees over the last decade, in the Job Exodus Trends poll (2016) it was revealed that 34% of employees said that they would prefer a more flexible approach to working hours over a 3% pay rise.

Companies need to ensure that their employees are happy and motivated.

Mentoring programmes can be a key ingredient in creating a positive working environment  and in encouraging greater collaboration within organisations. Companies demonstrating their willingness to invest in their employees in this way are more likely to create an engaged workforce.

Employee wellbeing has a huge impact on the morale and motivation of a workforce . The age old saying that a healthy body is a healthy mind rings true; encouraging workers to adopt a healthier lifestyle outside of the office through gym memberships, health screening or simple lunchtime walk or runs and sports clubs are thought to increase worker productivity and help in reducing levels of absence. The Office of National Statistics reported that 15.2 million work days were lost in 2013 due to stress, depression and anxiety. Simple adjustments to workers’ seating, computer height, lighting in the office, temperature levels all have an impact on employee’s day to day wellbeing and morale and in turn are likely to create a more relaxed working environment.

Feedback offers companies a valuable insight into how their employees view the company and can offer ideas for improvement. Exit interviews are frequently carried out by companies and although a great means to receive feedback as to why the employee is leaving, these are often too late to address concerns of the departing disengaged worker. Employers may want to conduct regular surveys or company group discussions to offer employees the chance to voice their concerns, and any ideas to improve the working environment and more importantly employers need to ensure that where possible they act on feedback provided.

If you would like more advice on how to engage your workforce, contact us to speak to one of our HR Consultants via

Forbury People Ltd

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This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

About this article

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