Culture and Employee Engagement

Culture is the key to employee engagement in a crisis

With social interaction severely limited, organisations have faced a unique barrier in 2020 to maintaining their company culture and keeping their employees engaged. However, the best managers know that the two are closely linked.

Management Transformed: Managing in a Marathon Crisis is a CMI research project exploring the extraordinary challenges and new ways of working that emerged in 2020.

Our Key Findings

In August 2020, CMI polled nearly 2,300 senior leaders, managers and employees to understand their experience of managing during the pandemic.

The headlines from our findings around culture and employee engagement were:

  • Senior leaders believe they are increasingly placing employees at the heart of their organisations during the pandemic but employees don’t always agree. Leaders need to ensure that employees are part of their company journey and genuinely feel listened to.
  • Organisations that have fostered a sense of belonging and made efforts to bring people together during the crisis say that their culture has benefited as a result.

You can find more detail on these findings below.

Management Transformed Report

The research underpinning this study was conducted when management was on ‘high alert’, and managers’ capabilities were under unprecedented pressure and scrutiny. That makes this snapshot particularly powerful.

For each theme, the report sets out the practical steps that aspiring managers, middle managers and senior leaders should take, to learn from the experience of this marathon crisis.

Because after all, we know the future success of UK businesses will depend on how managers and leaders step up to the next set of challenges.

Read the report to see what you can learn today.

View Report Online Download Report

Our Detailed Findings

Here we unpack some of the report’s key data insights and the experience of practicing managers.

Socially Distant

The physical workplace is in a state of flux. But workplace culture and community are important to employees, with six in ten missing the social interaction or events with their colleagues when working remotely. Additionally nearly a quarter (23%) of employees who expected to be working remotely in 2021, had negative feelings (such as anxiety, loneliness) towards continuing to work in this way.

If you’re missing out on social activities, have you considered joining a CMI event? Our interactive online events provide the opportunity to hear from interesting speakers and continue your CPD, until we can get back together in person.

Perception Gap

We also found a disconnect between how managers perceived staff felt since the pandemic and how direct reports were actually feeling across a series of statements. For example, managers were more likely than direct reports to agree that absenteeism has increased, while also thinking that staff engagement and job satisfaction have increased.

To keep our own perceptions sharp, CMI regularly poll our members. Managers Voice is an exclusive community of CMI managers representing the voice of UK management. If you’d like to get involved, find out more here.

Building and Sustaining Culture

Culture is based on how people interact. It’s a journey, something that is constantly evolving. Our research showed that communication and flexible working help to sustain culture, but it’s a shared sense of belonging, social ties, and organisational values that help create it. This matters: organisations that have fostered a sense of belonging and made efforts to bring people together during the crisis say that their culture has benefited as a result. Overall, 84% said that the overall culture of the organisation had improved or remained the same throughout the pandemic.

If you’d like to hear more about innovative approaches to building culture, along with the other issues we’ve explored through Management Transformed, check out CMI’s Managing Through Change podcast - a series featuring insights from inspirational leaders including members of the Management Transformed Steering Group.

Resources for Culture and Employee Engagement

We have collated a number of resources to help you put into action the practical findings from Management Transformed around culture and employee engagement. You can find these below.

CMI Members have access to a wealth of CPD tools and resources, which equips you to deal with any professional challenge. Check out our different membership options, and find the one which suits your needs.

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