The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) describes the achievement of employee engagement as organisations developing and nurturing engagement through a two-way relationship between the employer and employee. So, who is the biggest driver of employee engagement in this relationship?
Visible and empowering leadership creates an effective culture for employee engagement. Engaging leaders foster strong internal communications, share plans in an open and transparent manner, inspire employees to come together in a collective vision and instill an individual sense of ownership about the role each employee plays. They also empower staff to share their views and influence innovation by passing ideas upwards. Teams working with this type of leadership are likely to be more engaged as they have a clear understanding of what is expected and feel fully informed about the business direction and company goals.
Gallup reported that as much as 70% of the variance in the employee engagement of teams can be traced back to the influence of the manager. While strong leaders clearly communicate a vision and inspire people to work together to reach an end goal, great managers take the end goal and provide the coaching, support, and guidance needed for the whole team to work together in achieving it. Engaging managers are approachable and give their teams the support, scope, and coaching needed to do the best job possible. They also put considerable effort into making sure that successes and achievements are acknowledged.
Employees are more likely to feel engaged if they are working within a culture of camaraderie, where teams share a common goal and are committed to supporting each other to achieve it. Some of the most inspiring examples we see of engaging workplaces are where it’s obvious that everyone really looks out for one another. Fostering a culture of teamwork can be achieved by creating workplace environments where people have time to build relationships and collaborate with colleagues and where there is a conscious effort to bring people together through activities such as company social events or team fundraising.
- Individual employees
Engaged employees spread optimism and enthusiasm while disengaged employees can bring others down and cause entire teams to become less productive. Employers committed to monitoring engagement levels will be in the best position to prevent any negativity spreading in the first place. They will know if they need to investigate any reasons for dissatisfaction and make positive changes where needed. In a people-focussed culture, leaders and managers will also be willing to engage directly with disengaged employees to find out the root problem and provide any necessary support to bring them back to a state of engagement if possible.
- New recruits
Studies have shown that when employees are well-suited to their position, there is a positive impact on employee engagement levels. Finding high caliber employees who are the right cultural fit for an organisation creates a solid foundation for their own employee engagement levels during their time in the business. New talent coming into an organisation can also bring fresh perspectives and new ideas which can be a boost to the entire team.
- HR personnel
As well as recruiting the right people for the business, as already mentioned, those in HR roles can help ensure employees have the right skills, tools, and environment to do their jobs to their best. Being able to provide a robust and meaningful development plan with clear progression opportunities is a key enabler of employee engagement. People who are fully trained in all aspects of their role are more confident and motivated to go the extra mile.
So, while everyone within a business does play a part in employee engagement, the real driving force keeps coming back to leadership. The culture of an organisation flows from the leaders and influences the everyday behaviour of people. Leaders create and communicate the values of a business and build management teams who can guide and support teams to unite in a common goal. Engaged employees are likely to be those who have been empowered by leaders and senior managers to do their jobs well, working in organisations where leaders have inspired HR teams to develop positive workplace environments and rewarding career plans.