We all know that engagement matters as part of the employee experience and also as a factor in business outcomes. Companies understandably put much time and money into efforts to enhance their employee engagement scores. But it is not always clear how best to direct this investment.
Engage for Success’s Organisational Integrity and Values Thought and Action Group (TAG) has been exploring the factors that drive employee engagement. We surveyed 680 people in the UK arm of a supplier to the energy and water sector. 312 people responded.
The survey told us how engaged people were. It also gave us insight into certain factors that influence employee engagement.
What influences engagement?
The TAG’s initial research found that these three factors influence employee engagement:
- People’s individual experiences in the workplace – traditional engagement drivers such as opportunity to progress, having clear expectations, or support from a line manager;
- Behaviour and values alignment – whether (people believed that) the behaviours of their colleagues, line managers, and senior team members matched with the values of the company;
- How the organisation works in practice (in the experience of the people who responded) – how the company treats customers and suppliers, how people communicate internally, or which behaviours and results the company recognises and rewards, for example.
Of our three sets of factors above, a person’s individual experiences in the workplace have the most impact on his or her level of engagement. Perceived organisational practices had a more modest influence, and the alignment of colleagues’ behaviour with the values had least effect.
How far a person’s line manager acts in accordance with company values has more bearing on engagement than do the actions of senior team members. Colleagues’ behaviours did not affect a person’s engagement level in a significant way.
When it comes to organisational practices, unsurprisingly, how we treat our staff is the most powerful factor in engagement. The behaviours and results that the company recognises and rewards also have a bearing. How the company treats people who are not employees – suppliers and partners, for example – affects engagement levels but less so.
Our exploratory study shows that three factors influence how engaged an employee might be: individual experiences, organisational practice, and how well various colleagues are aligned with the company’s values.
For employees to be engaged, individuals’ needs cannot be met merely through broad organisational practices. Team members’ individual experiences must be a priority consideration for everyone who is a line manager.
We also see how line managers have to align their own behaviour and decisions with the values of the organisation if they want their people to be highly engaged.
And, whilst it is often thought that ‘the customer comes first’, our study shows us that, with employee engagement, the treatment of staff members, including what behaviours are recognised and rewarded, matters a good deal. At the same time, how people outside the organisation are treated affects levels of employee engagement.
Click here to see the full report from the Organisational Integrity and Values Thought and Action Group (TAG)
Author Bio: Quentin Millington, Organisational Integrity and Values TAG, Engage for Success