US workers cite clear communication of goals as key to engagement

12 August 2014 -


American workplace specialist identifies core drivers of employee engagement in findings drawn from thousands of organisations across 41 cities

Jermaine Haughton

A positive outlook on the future, confidence in leadership and commitment to valuing employees are three common themes that promote successful engagement between employers and workers, new research has revealed.

US management consultancy Quantum Workplace assessed data collected from 400,000 workers in 5,000 organisations across 41 cities, as part of the 2013 run of its annual Best Places to Work scheme. Those themes rely upon strong and coherent communication throughout a company’s structure, to ensure that appropriate strategies are effectively implemented.

Quantum’s report defines engaged employees as those who speak highly of their workplaces, are keen to remain there, and exert a measure of extra effort in their work. The researchers found that those three signs of engagement could be broken down into eight, underlying drivers, which managers could readily apply in order to stimulate high levels of loyalty. Those drivers can be phrased as statements with which employees could agree or disagree:

1. The leaders of this organisation are committed to making it a great place to work

2. I trust the leaders of this organisation to set the right course

3. I believe this organisation will be successful in the future

4. I know how I fit into the organisation’s future plans

5. I see professional growth and career development opportunities for myself in this organisation

6. The leaders of the organisation value people as their most important resource

7. I trust the senior leadership team to lead the company to future success

8. The organisation makes investments to make me more successful

According to Quantum’s 2014 Employee Engagement Trends Report, “Organisations performing well on these eight items are extremely likely to have a high level of overall engagement. In every organisation drivers will vary – but even if you’re not surveying and running a drivers analysis unique to your organisation, focusing on tactics to improve perceptions of [at least the] Top Six drivers is very likely to make a positive impact on engagement.”

Economic factors, said the report, are playing a vital role in improving the engagement picture across the staff landscape. In 2007, for example, the engagement rating stood at 70.6%. That dipped to a record low of 66.7% in 2010 – but last year rallied to 68%. “Employee engagement among the Best Places to Work has been on a slow, steady rise since 2011,” the report noted, broadly drawing a link with the burgeoning recovery.

However, away from the “engaged” end of the spectrum, there is the ongoing challenge posed by employees who describe themselves as “hostile”. The report points out: “over the past seven years, the highest level of hostile employees was 3.5% in 2010, and the lowest was 2.8% in 2009 and 2013. This represents a 0.7% point change, whereas the engaged profile experienced a 3.9%-point change in the [same period].” Meanwhile, it added: “Combining the middle profiles – contributing and disengaged – delivers a 3.4 percentage-point change.”

That minor fluctuation in the “hostile” bracket, said the report, “shows that an extremely negative perception is not likely to change. It is very difficult to change the minds of people whose minds are already made up. In addition, perception of excellence is more likely to shift to the middle – even over something small, or based on how someone is feeling that specific day.”

With that in mind, it advised: “Organisations should spend their efforts on those who are still in the middle and haven’t made up their minds. That is where engagement strategies can have the most impact. Once you shift your middle-ground employees to engaged employees, it’ll be easier to bring those hostile employees around, because you’ll have the rest of your employees on board to influence perception.”

For more hints on improving communication with your workers, sign up to this upcoming CMI webinar, taking place at 11am on Tuesday 19 August.

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