Corporate scandals undermine engagement

Jul 25 2012 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Fewer than four out of 10 British workers (36 per cent) trust the senior leadership of their organisation and almost six out of 10 (58 per cent) of workers display the classic signs of having adopted a "not bothered" attitude to their work.

That's according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development's latest quarterly Employee Outlook survey of more than 2,000 employees across the UK, which asks employees a number of questions to gauge their level of engagement in the work place and attitudes to working life.

Just a quarter (24 per cent) of employees said that they are consulted by senior managers about key issues that affect the business, and only four out of 10 are satisfied with the opportunities that exist to feed their views and ideas upwards to senior managers.

As Peter Cheese, Chief Executive at the CIPD, said, such low levels of engagement are not helped by the behaviour of business leaders themselves.

"Given the number of examples reported in the media in recent months of unethical behaviours and corrosive cultures overseen by senior leaders, it is perhaps unsurprising to see trust in the workplace eroding. What's worrying is the impact this will have on engagement. We know that strong employee engagement drives higher productivity and better business outcomes, so such a prominent display of 'neutral engagement' in the workplace should act as a real wake up call for employers.

"Now more than ever, organisations need to pay close attention to the impact the behaviours of senior leaders is having on the rest of the workforce and consider how they can improve corporate culture from the top down."

So just how damaging can this disengagement can be? The survey found that employees who display "neutral" engagement are only about half as likely to go the extra mile with regard to workload and hours than those who are engaged. They are also nearly three times more likely to be looking for a new job. It also found a strong correlation between employee engagement and knowledge of the organisation's core purpose.

Those employees who do trust their senior managers are more likely to express satisfaction with their wellbeing and are less likely to report being under stress. Meanwhile, just one in 10 (9 per cent) of engaged employees are looking for a new job compared with two-thirds of those who are disengaged.

"Employees also need to believe their views are respected and that they have a voice in the organisation, otherwise there is a risk that when things go wrong, no-one tells the executive team until it is too late," Peter Cheese added.

"Just as importantly, empowered and engaged employees are able to provide customer-inspired innovation and ensure organisations' products and services adapt quickly to take advantage of fast changing markets. "Building trust in senior leaders and employee engagement requires a shift away from traditional command and control styles of leadership to a distributed leadership model where managers at all levels have the ability to win hearts and minds, and get the best out of their people in the service of the organisation."