How Poor Employee Engagement Dislocates Your Business

Friday 17 March 2017
The failure of many UK Chief Executives and managing directors to engage and communicate effectively with employees is negatively impacting staff satisfaction and motivation, according to new research
people creating circle using hands

A report published by employee engagement app Totem has revealed a worrying picture of dislocated workforces across the UK, whereby infrequent and impersonal communication from senior managers has caused a major rift with increasingly unhappy and demotivated staff.

Alex Edmans, a professor of finance at London Business School, presented his research in the Harvard Business Review, which showed that companies with higher satisfaction see their stock returns outperform competitors by 2.3% to 3.8% per year.

Read More: 6 Companies That Get Employee Engagement - And What They Do Right

In addition, he said the data suggests that employee satisfaction causes the companies’ strong performance, rather than being a result of it. Moreover, a CEB report concluded that high level of job dissatisfaction is costing employers £16,000 per employee in staff turnover.

The Totem survey of 1,000 UK workers in multi-site organisations of over 1,000 employees found that only 10% of UK employees feel completely satisfied in their job, while just 16% believe their boss is an inspiration.

The statistics reflect leaders’ over reliance on out-dated and hierarchical communication methods that leave their teams unmotivated and dissatisfied, despite employees being eager to actively contribute to the businesses they work for and help boost a greater sense of unity and community, the report showed.

Three quarters of employees never see the most influential person in their company in or around their own place of work and almost a third (31%) of employees have never met their CEO or MD. The trend is common across every type of employee, but face time and engagement is lowest with blue collar workers.

Furthermore, when asked how to describe the senior people in their organisation, only 42% find them friendly, while a tiny 16% believe they are inspiring, highlighting a clear need to change.

When senior bosses do communicate with their teams, the research shows a clear reliance on technology, rather than more personal meetings. Some 61% of bosses use all-company emails to disseminate news and updates and only 31% of workers experiencing in-person company meetings.

In contrast to management's distance, employees actually want to engage with the wider business, as 55% want better ways to recognise colleagues, 33% want to build better relationships with colleagues outside of their teams and around a quarter (22%) desire more opportunities to meet with senior leaders.

Employees want to share ideas, interact with colleagues and recognise good work at every level of the business.

This disconnect is having a direct impact on job satisfaction, and with only 10% of employees fully satisfied with their organisation, there are clear signs that businesses need to improve in several areas – notably employee morale and recognition.

Here are five management changes you can implement to boost employee engagement and satisfaction quickly.

1. Make your management team visible: Formal meetings and company-wide updates, while important, dehumanise the relationship between employees and management. By sharing regular, informal updates, the management team can appear more accessible and engaged with the organisation, and employees can feel closer to the business and its purpose

2. Use ‘in-the-moment’ updates: Allowing real-time news to be shared - from everyone across the organisation – not only keeps employees informed, but can inspire and motivate others to replicate successes or share their own ‘winning moments’.

3. Reward with recognition, not money: Bonuses are great, but they’re also temporary. Appreciation and recognition can be even more powerful, with a ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ speaking volumes and leaving a lasting impression. Employees want to know their input is valued and that their contribution is an important part of the business.

4. Allow recognition for all: Too often, employees can’t play an active role in highlighting the successes of others, as accolades only filter through from the managerial level. Giving reward and recognition on a continued basis, by any employee to any colleague, brings a shared responsibility that can empower and engage employees across the business.

5. Give employees a voice through content sharing: Allow all levels of the workforce to share what they have been doing, what they’ve achieved or how they have gone ‘above and beyond’ to instill a sense of value, familiarity and personality. By providing content that brings work to life, employees’ understanding of the ways that every person in the company is contributing in the business increases considerably.