How far should we take employee engagement?

engaging employeesAccording to Gallup’s latest country study ‘State of the Global Workplace’, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Sadly the results show that the actively disengaged employees around the world outnumber the engaged employees 2 to 1. Not very encouraging statistics are they?

The figures reported in Gallup’s study also highlight how employee engagement varies on a regional level, and also it reveals differences among employees with different job types, and at different education levels, within countries. It may be fair to say that there will always be regional differences, as there are cultural factors to take into account, as well as societal factors. Being aware of these differences may help managers identify particular difficulties, and restrictions, that they need to address in order to foster a more engaged workforce. However, one factor is certainly true globally – such low levels of engagement will be affecting organisations across the globe, as their businesses will be unproductive and uncompetitive, and their workforce will be unmotivated and unhappy.

Businesses are acutely aware of the impact low engagement levels have on their organisation, and it has become a very big topic among leading HR professionals. In the latest Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends research, 78% of business leaders rate retention and engagement urgent or important.

Business leaders worldwide must raise the bar on employee engagement. Increasing workplace engagement is vital to achieving sustainable growth for companies, communities, and countries.’ – State of the Global Workplace study


How can businesses improve employee engagement?

The issue of employee engagement is a complex one. There are many factors that are affecting engagement levels that businesses need to review and rethink if they are to improve things:

  • Management style – there is a flatter hierarchy within most organisations now, which means the structure and relationships with managers, team leaders and peers has changed. This needs to be taken into account when looking at how staff appraisals are conducted.
  • coffee breakWork environment – people spend a large proportion of their lives at work, which not only affects their engagement levels, but also their quality of life as a whole. So it is important that the place of work is as comfortable and accommodating as possible. Introducing things like break out areas, quiet rooms or games rooms can go a long way to making the experience of the work place more enjoyable.
  • Recruitment process – looking carefully at how, and who, an organisation recruits is another important factor to consider. Finding the right people with the right skills and who will fit an organisation’s values and culture will have a big impact on engagement levels across an organisation.



Amazon will pay you to quit

One particular individual has taken matters into his own hands in an attempt to improve employee engagement levels within his organisation – with quite a drastic plan. Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, launched his Pay to Quit initiative in April this year. The initiative offers employees in the Amazon fulfilment centres a one-off payment to leave. Each employee gets the offer once a year. The first time, it’s for $2,000. The offer increases by $1,000 each year after that, up to a maximum of $5,000. Bezos believes that a demotivated workforce will create an unsuccessful business, so he has taken the view that he will pay those employees, who don’t wish to contribute to his organisation, to leave. This no-nonsense approach has enabled him to retain all those employees who turned down the offer. Following their decision to stay at Amazon, these individuals will automatically feel a sense of loyalty and will be more motivated and engaged.


Is employee engagement sustainable?

However radical companies feel they wish to be with their employee engagement strategy, it is vital that they focus on maintaining engagement levels. As already highlighted, the recruitment process plays a big part, but once hired employers need to ensure their new recruits remain engaged and happy. This involves employees feeling able to contribute, innovate, and enjoy their place of work. If an employee feels supported and enabled to achieve their best, and progress within the organisation, they will be happy, engaged and ultimately more productive. This situation will benefit both parties resulting not only in sustained engagement, but a healthier bottom line for the business.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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