A recent survey measuring the workplace engagement of employees in 20 different countries worldwide has ranked the UK in 18th place. Another 2015 study found that 48% of UK employees only consider themselves to be ‘moderately engaged’, and 15% have little or no engagement at all in their workplace.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK currently stands 20% below the average of other G7 countries. Even the most driven amongst of workers, no matter how exciting the job, will have experienced a few moments of apathy in their career.
However, with numerous studies suggesting that disengagement is widespread across the entire country, much more needs to be done to encourage and build overall engagement.
When a person is engaged, they have an emotional investment in their work – this means that their own self-interests are closely aligned with the organisation’s own goals.
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It is worth noting that an employee can still be hard working without being fully engaged – often reasons like personal integrity and upholding professional standards can motivate people to keep going despite a disinterest in the job as a whole.
So if people can work hard without real engagement, then why does it matter? Employee engagement is the building block needed to unlock real workplace satisfaction. For employees, it can increase overall happiness and help give purpose to their work, and for businesses it can help drive results.
To unlock an employee’s full potential and increase workplace wellbeing, there are three steps businesses can take to build overall engagement.
1. Ensure the entire management team care
A study measuring workplace engagement in the UK found that 98% of those that considered themselves to be highly engaged had a manager who they felt really cared about them. This suggests that an encouraging manager who is invested in their employees and is dedicated to forwarding their careers is key to employee engagement.
Managers do not need to spoil their employees with, for example, fancy lunches out, as what is really needed is someone who will listen to them and understand what is needed for them to progress in their role and achieve their full potential.
As well as ensuring the managers within a company have the best interests of the employees at heart, it is also important that the organisation is fronted by a great leader who can direct the business in the right way.
A great leader will be able to communicate to every single employee the overarching vision for the company and the important role that each individual plays in achieving this.
2. Encourage positive reinforcement
While the survey, commissioned by Red Letter Days, reports that 80% of highly engaged staff receive regular recognition for their work, it also found that 18% of employees have not received a verbal ‘thank you’ from their manager in the last 12 months. A simple thank you can go a long way and often a bit of recognition is all that is needed to keep employees on track.
Acknowledging someone’s good work can also help to encourage the continuance of this behaviour in the future. This is known as positive reinforcement and can be in the form of praise and appreciation.
Positive reinforcement can help to build an employee’s confidence and self-worth, as it lets them know they are performing well and making good progress. This can also help to alleviate any self-doubt, increase productivity and improve the overall morale of a workplace.
3. Giving the employee a voice
Another important driver of employee engagement is open communication, as a happy workplace tends to be one in which employees feel free to voice their opinions and that these opinions are taken on board.
Open communication works best in an office that promotes a non-hierarchical structure or flat structure. Flat organisations are characterised by having few management levels and a short chain of command.
Limiting the number of management levels can help to facilitate the open transmission of communication between employees and management. Without the tedious hierarchy present in some organisations, employees feel they can open up to their colleagues and express how they really feel. Often flat structures are also more democratic as everyone is considered to be of equal value.
To foster a positive workplace environment and unlock the true potential of its employees, businesses must look at improving the level of workplace engagement.
With countless studies showing the link between high engagement and productivity, it is vital that steps are taken to try to closely align the interests of the workers, with the organisation’s own goals and ambitions.
Engaged employees trust and respect their managers and feel like their opinions count. Improving employee engagement will raise overall morale and ultimately help to drive results.
Sourced from Howard Jackson, founder and head of education, HCSS Education