Employee engagement - get it right and reap the benefits

Posted on 4 Jun 2021
Employee engagement - get it right and reap the benefits

In this month's newsletter, we're looking at the key factors of workforce engagement (we'll explain what it is first) and how to turn those into an effective employee engagement strategy.

What is employee engagement?

Job satisfaction and motivation are important, but employee engagement is more than this. Have you got that employee whose hand shoots up first, always helpful, always there for you? An employee with energy and enthusiasm who displays passion and pride for their work? That's your engaged employee right there.

Why does it matter?

  • Happiness = increased productivity.
  • Happiness = improved customer satisfaction.
  • Happiness = reduced absenteeism and better staff retention

Workplace engagement factors

Job design: employees value knowing how they fit within an organisation and how their work influences the wider business objectives. Connect them to the bigger picture and help them feel valued.

Autonomy: Being micromanaged is a demotivating factor and leads to a disengaged workforce. Responsibility creates accountability, which in turn encourages employees to take pride in their work.

Career progression: Where career progression opportunities don't exist, you'll likely find frustrated and disengaged staff. Employers that offer learning and development opportunities and that take time out to plan progression with their employees will reap the rewards.

Communication: Use an internal communication strategy to support open and clear communication with employees. An opportunity to raise awareness of wider business goads and decisions that may affect them.

Recognition: Increase your employees sense of their own value through praise and reward for good work. Acknowledge a  job well done, hard work and effort.

Employee engagement strategy

The 2009 MacLeod Review “Engaging for Success: Enhancing performance through employee engagement,” placed employee engagement as central to a company’s success. The Review summarises four key factors of engagement:

Leadership: Leaders must be visible and empowering. Separating the leadership team from the wider workforce fosters an “us” and “them” mentality, which can disengage employees. MacLeod emphasised that leaders must, instead, empower employees by being visible, approachable and available.

Leaders also need to provide clear direction for the workforce in the form of a “strategic narrative”, which consists of two parts:

  • The Strategy: A shared organisational goal that everyone is working towards. Simple, memorable and communicated at all levels.
  • The Narrative: This is the organisation's story. Where it is now and where it is going. Helping employees see where they fit in this journey, engaging and motivating them.

Line managers: MacLeod points to the line manager relationship as the most important for employee satisfaction and engagement, observing that “people join organisations, but they leave managers.”

The key characteristics of engaging line managers include:

  • Provide clarity for employees
  • Appreciate their team and praise their efforts
  • Treat employees as individuals
  • Provide employees with the necessary support and equipment to do their jobs
  • Facilitate and empower teams, rather than micromanage

Employee voice: Allow employees to feel they have a voice and their opinions matter by inviting and listening to their feedback.

Employers must actively encourage their staff to speak up and give genuine consideration to feedback. Responsiveness is key to the effectiveness of employee voice — it is not enough to simply “listen”. Employers must act on feedback wherever possible.

Business values and culture: An organisation must have a clear set of values that shape its culture. This creates trust and integrity. Any disparity between proclaimed values and behaviours harms trust and ultimately leads to a disengaged workforce.

To avoid falling into the trap of the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality, managers and leaders should be role models of the values and culture, not the exceptions.

Measuring employee engagement

There are various factors at play in influencing workplace engagement, and there are different ways to measure it.

  • Invite regular feedback from staff. Let them share their observations through feedback forms or face-to-face discussions. Anonymous surveys can help quieter team members have their say and ensure you get honest, unbiased feedback.
  • Asking staff to rate key factors of engagement, such as job satisfaction, team relationships and career progression, is another good way to highlight areas for improvement. This can be a straightforward rating system rather than detailed feedback.
  • Aim to conduct surveys or request feedback at regular intervals, for example, every quarter as a minimum. Keep a record of the responses so you can gather comparable data and track trends over time.
  • With each passing quarter, you obtain more data to continuously identify areas for improvement and shape your engagement strategy to meet your employees’ needs.

Our free recruitment health check is a great way to ensure that your recruitment processes underpin your employee engagement strategy. Call me to book an appointment.

Wishing you all the best,


Source: Total Jobs. 2009 MacLeod Review.


Report on Jobs: Permanent staff appointments rise at record pace as pandemic restrictions ease further in May:

  • Rapid increases in permanent placements and temp billings
  • Vacancy growth hits highest since January 1998...
  • ...but supply of workers drops at quickest rate for four year

This article by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation provides an up to date assessment of the current UK job market, it's essential reading prepared by an authoritative voice within the recruitment industry - you can find the full report here.