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Why employee engagement matters

It sounds like a no-brainer: Keep employees engaged, and you’ll have a happier, more productive workplace. But a new survey shows that surprisingly, not everyone is on the same page about the importance of employee engagement.

Highly engaged employees aren’t just passionate about their work, but they know how their contributions play a vital part in the overall success of their organization. They’re known for their commitment, and organizations know the importance of keeping them happy.

On the contrary, disengaged employees often feel underused and as if though they’re not getting what they want from their job. These employees are often skeptical and negative, and if left alone, they are likely to do enough work to collect a paycheck while complaining or eyeing other opportunities.

Consulting firm Blissingwhite’s Employee Engagement Report 2011 found that less than one-third of employees globally are engaged, and nearly 20 percent are disengaged. The term engagement factors in employees’ personal satisfaction in their role and their work contributions.

The more senior role employees have, the more engaged they tend to be. And older employees are also more engaged than younger. Additionally, employees who trust their managers are likely to be more engaged. However, trust in executives rather than in immediate managers has a stronger correlation with high engagement.

Interestingly, employees have more trust in immediate managers than in executives: 72 percent of the North American respondents said they trust their manager, while 52 percent said they trust senior leaders.

The report also revealed that although engagement is increasing worldwide, more employees are considering leaving their organization if given the choice. European employees are the most restless, with less than half saying they would stay. Fifty-six percent of North American respondents said they intend to stick around.

The top reason for staying for all the regions? Satisfying, interesting work. Top reason for leaving? Lack of opportunity for career advancement. 

While the survey didn't focus on government employees, the same principles apply. Give your employees work they enjoy and let them feel a sense of ownership over the work they do, and they'll be happier and less likely to leave for a better offer.

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Mar 01, 2012 at 12:19 PM

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Reader comments

Mon, Mar 12, 2012

I have to agree with Mr Quintana, the number of disengaged employees is probably much higher in the government - in particular. The era of "doing more with less" has lead to an increase in dictatorship type leadership, do what I say - when I say it and don't question me because I don't have time to explain my decision making to you. This type of leadership makes employees like myself feel extremely underappreciated and loyalty to the organization disintegrates. I wish there was a way we could "score" our leadership on how we felt they were leading and engaging the employees and they were used to make things better.

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 Liz Cosline US

Some great points are brought up. The question that needs attention is a system and training that will help managers keep employees engaged. This is all about the customer experience through amazing employees.

Fri, Mar 2, 2012

This article makes perfect sense. For years the govt. clients have praised me for my work but managers have put me down. Made me feel I was a bad employee. But I always got at least Fully Successful on performance reviews. Last year a govt. client gave me a spot award. My supervisor? Just fully successful. Why? The excuses were lame. I feel unappreciated, under used, and distrustful of managers. At times I have lost confidence in myself and the supervisor wonders why I come to them so often and do no just take care of it myself. I'm afraid to do it myself. Whether I do or not I get told I'm wrong, even when I've proven not to be wrong. I may be getting a new immediate supervisor and I am encouraged by this person's attitute towards my work. With most people leaving or retiring, I'm one of the last senior, experienced employees here. Maybe I'll start being appreciated more.

Thu, Mar 1, 2012 Peter Quintana United Kingdom

This is another good piece on engagement, but I have to say I doubt some of the stats, and in particular that nearly 20% are disengaged. I would think it much higher than this, especially in regions that are still feeling the crunch. But it is precisely in these regions that engagement is so important. If you can get your workforce satisfied with their job, and motivated, and satisfied with you as a place to work, and loyal to you, and talking about you to their friends and families, and proud that they work for you - the competitive advantage would be huge, and your chances of surviving the recession very much higher.

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