Employee Engagement or …….. Disengagement ?

Employee Engagement ……or Disengagement ?

A recent report to Government (2009) “Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement” by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke was asked to examine, in particular whether a wider take up of engagement approaches could impact positively on UK competitiveness and performance, as part of the country’s efforts to come through the current economic difficulties, take maximum advantage of the upturn when it comes, and meet the challenges of increased global competition.

The report went on to refer to the impact of a lack of ‘employee engagement’:

• Engaged employees in UK take an average of 2.69 sick days per year; the disengaged take 6.19. The CBI reports that sickness absence costs the UK economy £13.4 bn a year.
• Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the organisation than the disengaged. The cost of high turnover among disengaged employees is significant; some estimates put the cost of replacing each employee as equal to an annual salary.
• 70% of engaged employees indicate they have a good understanding of how to meet customer needs; only 17% of non-engaged employees say the same.

Definitions of employee engagement vary, but it is accepted that it is about retaining and building upon the commitment, energy and desire to do a good job that characterises, for most people that ‘first day at work’ feeling to maximize individual and organisational performance. It is about unlocking people’s potential at work and the measurable benefits of doing so for the individual, the organisation and ultimately, for the UK can be clearly seen.

Engagement and involvement are critical to managing change at work; according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 9 out of 10 key barriers to success of change programmes are people related ; only 24% of private sector employees believe change is well managed in their organizations (15% in the public sector)

Although improved performance and productivity is at the heart of engagement, it cannot be achieved by a mechanistic approach which tries to extract discretionary effort by manipulating employees’ commitment and emotions. Employees see through such attempts very quickly; they lead instead to cynicism and disillusionment. By contrast, engaged employees freely and willingly give discretionary effort, not as an ‘add on’, but as an integral part of their daily activity at work.

Furthermore engagement is a two way process: organizations must work to engage the employee, who in turn has a choice about the level of engagement to offer the employer. Each reinforces the other.

If higher engagement is associated with higher performance, the low levels of engagement suggested in the Report may be costing the UK economy between £59.4 bn and £64.7 bn per annum. The IES/Work Foundation found that if organizations increased investment in a range of good workplace practices which related to engagement by just 10%, they would increase profits by £1500 per employee per year.

Employee engagement is about attitudes, behaviour as well as outcomes. An employee might feel pride and loyalty (attitude); to be a great advocate of their company to clients, or to go that extra mile to finish a piece of work (behaviour). Outcomes may include lower accident rates, higher productivity, fewer conflicts, more innovation, lower numbers leaving and reduced sickness rates, but all three of these vital to the engagement process and when working in harmony they trigger and reinforce one another.

The report suggests that the failure of good leadership and management is the main cause of poor employee engagement.

Executive/Leadership coaching is one of the tried and tested methods of intervention that facilitates:

• Leaders to adjust their style that ensures a strong, transparent and explicit organizational culture.
• Managers to offer clarity and appreciation of employees’ effort and contribution so that employees feel they are valued and equipped and supported to do their job.
• A belief among employees that the organisation live its values and that these are adhered to, resulting in trust and a sense of integrity.

The failure of traditional training particularly in terms of promoting changed behaviour in the work place has led to a switch towards a more learning centred approach. The social nature of the workplace depends on people working together and much rests on the quality of interpersonal skills including communication, EI and self-awareness. COACHING is one of the mechanisms to achieve this, but one of the few that addresses the impact of attitude and behaviour on performance.


About adob4sight

I am a coach, facilitator, and coach supervisor who works with key decision makers in business as well as private individuals, helping them maximise performance at work or in their lives outside the workplace. At 4sight Communications we work predominently with individuals in a one-to-one relationship facilitating the adaption of behaviours and attitudes to improve performance. Particular areas around which assistance is sought are: communications, leadership, relationships, work/life balance, addressing change and conflict, time management, goal setting and clarifiation of values. We also conduct team facilitation and coaching for middle ranking and senior teams of up to 10 persons. We are qualified to administer and interpret a series of psychometric assessments - ranging from 'personality profiling' to measuring an individual's 'mental toughness quotient'. All assessments are followed up with one-to-one sessions clarifying and facilitating areas indentified for development. One of the psychometrics used can be adapted for the recruitment of senior staff with the organisation able to input criteria for a particular post. We have qualified coaching supervisors who will provide a service for both professional coaches as well as 'internal company' coaches to ensure that not only the coach his/herself is properly developed, but also the interests of the client/coachee are served and ethics are adhered to. If you are interested in any of the 'above', get in touch !
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