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The importance of being engaged

Published 6th January 2014 by IIP Scotland

If you were asked what percentage of your workforce was engaged in your organisations aims and objectives, what would you guess at? 80? 60? 40?

Recent research suggests that only 35% of the UK’s workforce is “highly engaged”, while a massive 26% are actively “disengaged”, or to put into context, would be quite happy to work as a saboteur within their own company.  The results of such statistics barely need to be stated, such is their clarity.  Turnover, profits, staff retention, and morale are all adversely affected.

Managers and leaders therefore have an intrinsic and vitally important role within an operation to ensure that all employees within an organisation are sufficiently engaged that they value coming to work in the morning and want to do their utmost to ensure the success of the organisation they represent.

Managers can be at their most vital when they empower employees under their remit to work to their maximum and facilitate working conditions conducive to productivity.  They also have critical roles to play in developing the skills of those they manage as well as treating all those with respect and fairness.  Moreover, employees tell us that 80% of their decision to either engage or disengage with their employer is directly attributed to their direct manager.

Managers are therefore, of critical importance.  For those that choose not to seek engagement with their teams, the results can be startling.  A report published late last year by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke (co-authors of the MacLeod report) titled ‘Nailing the Evidence’ suggests that there is a potential for a further £26 billion in growth amongst UK companies should they begin to engage with their employees.  The UK is currently also 9th from 12 of a table of the world’s twelve largest economies for engagement levels.

So what can we do to make managers more productive at engaging with individuals, with successful results filtering through as a result?

It is imperative that managers are clear with individuals on what is expected of them.

Clarity is vitally important for employees, ensuring that they know their place within the organisation, and what is expected of them in their role.  This will further incorporate development of team members, a key attribute in keeping them engaged and aligned with an organisation’s objectives.

They must treat individuals as individuals, showing respect and fairness for all.

Every individual within a company expects to be treated fairly, so managers must ensure that their behaviour towards them is consistent.  This must be consistent not only within the context of other team members, but also within that of other managers and the wider organisation.

Managers must be able to build relationships with team members, both on a 1:1 basis and more widely.

Breaking down barriers and working in a close capacity is one of the simplest methods for managers to build trust within their team.  In this sense, flattening the hierarchy, pitching in, and sitting with the team are all efficient ways of building up those relationships.  Furthermore, managers must also be willing and prepared to feedback on a team’s direction.  This can be done quite simply when a particular team member or team are performing well, but it is equally important to feedback when the reverse is true.  Research shows that employees particularly value feedback after completion of a successful, but complicated or difficult task.

Managers need to set the direction for the team.

One of the key components of the MacLeod report was in setting a direction for the team.  This entails having a clear vision for where they are, and where managers wish them to be.

So there we have it – 4 simple tips that can be utilised in any team, in any organisation in the country that will begin to address a manager’s strategy for employee engagement.

Take this further:

What have we missed though? Are you currently managing the most engaged and content team in the UK who are currently surpassing all sales targets ever to be placed in front of them? If so, let us know!

Alternatively, have you ever managed a team who spent every day looking like they’d rather be somewhere else? What did you do, and how? Did it work? Please tell us, and together we can build a more engaged workforce.