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  • Adele

What is the state of Employee Engagement today?

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

"Today, more than twice as many employees are motivated by work passion than career ambition (12 percent vs. 5 percent), indicating a need for leadership to focus on making the work environment compelling and enjoyable for everyone"[i]

We have an engagement deficit… it’s official!

In 2009 Kenexa reported that the UK had an employee engagement deficit, that around only 33% of the UK workers were engaged and the UK was ranked 9th for engagement of the world's 12 largest economies by GDP.

The UK also has a productivity deficit. In 2011 an ONS survey found that output per hour in the UK was 15% below the average for the rest of the G7 industrialised nations; on an output per worker basis, UK productivity was 20% lower than the rest of the G7 in 2011. This represented the widest productivity gap since 1995.

By 2014 the ONS found that output per hour had decreased even further and was now 20 % lower than the rest of the G7 nations. The UK had a "productivity gap" of about 18% compared with a gap of about 7% for the rest of the G7.

In Deloitte's Human Capital Trends survey 2015, more than 50% of the respondents had either no programme for employee engagement or at best a poor programme. Considering the worsening statistics of productivity in the UK, and knowing how important employee engagement is for productivity and business success it is quite a frightening statistic.

In Spring 2015 the CIPD reported their Employee Outlook survey showing that 39% of employees were engaged, just over 2% were disengaged and just under 59% were neutral.[ii] That shows a very large risk to UK businesses when 60% of your workforce is not engaged.

We need to focus on culture

The losers in this ever more competitive business environment are those organisations who fail to recognise that employee engagement is at an all-time low. Worse still are those that try to solve this problem by placing focus on 'motivating' employees in order to gain employee engagement.

What do I mean by that? I mean those organisations who are trying to dangle those huge carrots that don’t work; those trying to ‘motivate’ employees with promises of reward that might work in the short term, but won’t work in the long term.

The winners in this ever changing situation over the last 15 years have been the organisations that embrace employee happiness and take time to understand why an employee is motivated already, and what quality of motivation exists, not what initiatives the organisation can impose 'to motivate' the employee.

Take time to look around your business, understand the current workplace culture. What is really going on around you?

Are your employees given opportunities for learning, growth, development?

Do they have a working environment which empowers them rather than micro manages them?

Can they feel comfortable each day in their environment: do they have sufficient work space, facilities, break out areas, rest periods?

Do they have experienced, engaging and supportive leaders around them?

Do they have opportunities to define their own workload and direction?

Do they have a reasonable work- life balance?

Are many leaving you at a great rate?

How do you benchmark against competitors in your sector?

Have you asked your employees how they are feeling recently?

Are they having fun at work, can they feel relaxed?

Are your employees getting financial and emotional reward at work?

Have you considered the differences in needs between the generations in your workforce? Remember one size does not fit all. We now have 3 to 4 generations in the workforce, all with different expectations. Just managing across the generation gaps is a challenge in itself.

Do you know what is really going on in your business?

There are many more questions you should ask; I could go on forever here but I hope you get the idea. We need to take a good hard look at the culture within our businesses. We need to remove any damaging legacy traits, provide a safe and secure environment in which our employees can feel valued, empowered and let them flourish… your employees will do the rest.

[i] [i] Hagel, John III, Passion versus ambition: Did Steve Jobs have worker passion? Deloitte University Press, November 19, 2014, http:// [ii]

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