How to boost employee engagement

Recent research by Right Management highlighted a stark contrast between engagement levels in the UK and elsewhere across the globe, with low employee engagement and lagging productivity a key concern for a third of HR managers in the UK, compared with a global average of just one in five.

This is supported by the findings of Aon Hewitt’s recent Trends in Global Employee Engagement report, which highlighted that employee engagement across Europe is lower than elsewhere in the world, despite seeing the biggest improvement in the last year, with a rating of 57% compared to 63% in North America and an impressive 74% in Latin America. It was also noted that Europe has the biggest proportion of employees who are actively disengaged rather than engaged or passive, at 19%.

Low engagement levels, which have no doubt been exacerbated by increased workloads, job insecurity and a poor work-life balance in recent years, are a big concern for companies as they can lead to declining productivity and innovation, which could ultimately impact on companies’ bottom lines.


What is making workers disengaged?

With the majority of nations experiencing at least a degree of economic turmoil in recent years, why are employees in some countries more engaged than others? The answer could lie in the fact that workers in different nations place greater emphasis on different drivers of engagement, some of which are easier to tackle than others.

For example, according to Aon Hewitt’s research, the top driver of employee engagement in Europe is career opportunities, followed by organisational reputation and pay. Given the current economic climate, companies may find it hard to address these as they may not be expanding, meaning opportunities for raising their profile and creating new job opportunities are limited, while many businesses still have pay freezes in place.

Comparatively, in Latin America, the most value is placed on recognition and innovation, which are easier for companies to provide regardless of their financial situation.


Steps to improve engagement

Bearing in mind what the main drivers of engagement are for employees, businesses can target their engagement strategies to ensure they get the best results.


1 – Provide a clear career progression path

While some organisations may struggle to find new opportunities for people to move into, there are still ways to communicate a clear career path to employees and take steps to prepare them for the next role.

Companies could also offer key employees the opportunity to move sideways into new roles. This will help them acquire new knowledge and experience by moving between areas of the company.


2 – Invest in training and development

If you can’t provide career opportunities at the moment, investing in employees’ training and development is a great way to demonstrate how valuable they are to your organisation and help them excel at their current role. Ongoing development will mean staff are ready to move up the career ladder as opportunities arise.

It makes perfect business sense to develop your staff: you can increase profits through the right leadership, allow staff to be promoted by nurturing new talent, and motivate your staff to achieve goals simply by encouraging their personal development.


3 – Be open and honest about pay

Pay is becoming an increasingly important engagement driver for employees, and just 44% of employees think they are paid fairly for their contributions. If companies are unable to give pay rises they should be open and honest about the situation, giving reasons for the pay freeze and details of when the situation will be re-evaluated. However, Aon Hewitt warns that as economies start to grow, employees are likely to become more mercenary and take job opportunities that offer better remuneration.


4 – Consider your reputation

The fact that other people see their employer as being a good place to work is very important to employees, but only half of employees can state what their organisation wants to be known for, despite it being the number two engagement driver. Aon Hewitt advises taking the time to put together a clear and concise description of how you want people to view your company, for example are you innovative, caring, charitable or eco-friendly?

If you’re not sure whether your employees are engaged, why not take a look at our handy flowchart?


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