The keys to employee engagement

Feb 08 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Getting and keeping your employees engaged comes down to three simple factors – leadership by example, a willingness to listen and being prepared to learn – according to British firms voted the best places to work by their staff.

Research by workplace engagement specialist Best Companies as part of its employer accreditation scheme has found that firms which achieve its gold standard are more prepared to listen to their workers, are staffed by managers who have earned the respect of their teams and who recognise they never stop learning.

The poll of 100,000 employees within 434 firms in the UK – of which 273 have been accredited this year – found that four out of five of those working at accredited firms said they would "strongly recommend" their organisation to others.

This compared with under two thirds at non-accredited companies, the survey reported.

A key element of this disparity was that managers at accredited firms, it was clear, had gone out of their way to earn the respect of their workforce.

More than three-quarters of employees working for accredited organisations said they had confidence in the leadership skills of their bosses, against just 60 per cent in non-accredited organisations.

And little more than half of employees in non-accredited organisations expressed a great deal of faith in their chief executive or the person leading the organisation, it added.

Managers in accredited companies were also more prepared to listen to their employees as part of the process of getting and keeping them on board, the survey concluded.

A majority of employees – nearly two thirds – in accredited organisations felt senior managers were actually listening to them rather than simply telling them what to do.

In non-accredited firms, by contrast, this figure fell to just over a third, or 39 per cent of the employees polled.

Employees in accredited companies were also much more likely personally to recommend their employer to others, something often considered the holy grail of recruitment marketing.

More than 80 per cent of staff in accredited companies said they would be happy to do this, against 64 per cent in non-accredited organisations.

Only a quarter of workers in accredited organisations believed opportunities for them to learn and grow at their organisation were limited, compared with almost four out of 10 workers in non-accredited firms who were similarly unhappy.

The vast majority of employees working for accredited organisations – 86 per cent – believed their employer was doing their best to help them, with a similar eight out of 10 feeling their contribution was valued.

By contrast, a much lower 58 per cent of staff in non-accredited companies felt the same way.

Nine out of ten employees in accredited organisations said they were proud to work there, a figure that fell to two-thirds in non-accredited companies.

In non-accredited organisations under half of employees believed profit was the only thing driving their organisation, but in accredited companies this fell to around a third.

Nevertheless it was still clear from the survey that in both accredited and non-accredited firms a surprising number of employees feel their departments and teams are not working well together.

Just over half of employees in non-accredited companies and almost four out of ten workers in accredited companies complained that this was a failing in their organisation.

Equally worryingly for employers, almost three out of ten employees in non-accredited companies (but which were nevertheless hoping to make the grade and so above the UK national average) said that they would leave tomorrow if they had another job come their way.

Pete Bradon, head of research at Best Companies, said this was a serious concern for all employers.

"Whilst it is healthy for some staff to be thinking about the next step, it is clear that employers have their work cut out if they want to improve retention rates," he added.