The Employee Engagement Disconnect: What Needs To Change?

Current employee satisfaction levels are severely lacking within the UK, with a mere one in 10 UK workers fully satisfied in their workplace, according to a new report from Totem, based on the opinions of 1,000 UK employees within large companies.

A worrying number of employees feel detached from their organisation’s leadership team and the overall business. It’s no surprise given that company communication relies on ‘one to many’ email updates or placing information in HR portals.

Yet employees want to engage more with the business. And this presents a clear opportunity for HR departments to re-think employee engagement strategies and introduce new approaches that encourage unity and involvement of every employee, at every level.

Current Employee Engagement Methods

Today’s workers are restricted to sharing views and ideas through formal channels, to specific people, at times the organisation chooses. The primary methods are appraisal systems and employee surveys, but this limits communication to just line/development managers or means opinions are bundled into a wider data set by HR teams.

Enforcing such limitations can put up barriers across the organisation and just 14% of workers feel they can approach their senior management team with ideas. It’s a statistic that highlights the need for organisations to reconsider their processes to enable a more open flow of information and ideas.

Current methods used by business leaders to communicate with the workforce are only exacerbating the disconnect between employees and the rest of the organisation. As many as 61% of senior management use all-company emails to disseminate news and updates, rather than more regular, informal updates that would make them appear more accessible and engaged with their staff.

How Do Employees Want To Communicate?

Employees want to break down the barriers of communication within their organisations and are eager for management teams to open up channels in order to give them this opportunity.

They not only want to share ideas, but desire the opportunity to connect with others in the workforce who sit outside of their immediate teams, with over a third (33%) of staff keen to build stronger relationships with their peers.

Employees also want to share the responsibility of recognising and acknowledging the efforts and successes of colleagues. Empowering all employees through an open forum where they can champion the work of others takes the onus off the management layer to determine when and how praise is given, and helps to create a real sense of community.

Introducing New Ways To Engage The Workforce

Our Totem research clearly highlights how some businesses are failing to keep their workforce engaged, motivated and satisfied in their jobs. It’s crucial to address this disconnect sooner rather than later, particularly as poor engagement is linked to low retention, poor productivity and unhappiness.

But there’s a big opportunity for business leaders to redefine their employee engagement strategies and reset employee-employer relationships by breaking down the barriers between senior business leaders and the wider workforce.

This article is based on findings from the new Totem report ‘Changing perceptions: the current states of employee engagement’, which can be downloaded for free.

Marcus Thornley, CEO of Totem

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