Blog, Human Resources, Organization, People

Employee Engagement – not just a buzzword

“Employee Engagement” is one of those ‘buzzwords’ that you hear thrown about quite a bit…but this is a buzzword that should be carefully thought about by every organization.

A recent survey, reported on by Management Issues, has some very interesting results pertaining to Employee Engagement. The article, titled “Getting to the Heart of the Disengagement Gap“, reports the following results:

A poll of 14,000 employees across 10 European countries by consultants Watson Wyatt has confirmed what a number of similar large-scale surveys have been suggesting over the past few years – namely that there is a vast reserve of untapped potential in the workplace in the form uncommitted or actively disgruntled staff.

It also revealed that more than four out of 10 are actively considering leaving their current employer.

But whereas a 2007 poll of almost 90,000 workers by workplace consultancy Towers Perrin found that just a fifth felt engaged with their work, Watson Wyatt found that only 13 per cent (fewer than one in seven) displayed both strong commitment as well as having a good understanding of the part they could play in making their organizations successful – an understanding Watson Wyatt term “line of sight”.

Only 13 percent of the workforce is fully engaged and trying to create value of organziations. What are the other 87% of the workforce up to? Are they lazy? Incompetent? I highly doubt it…its more likely that the organization has done a poor job of describing how each person’s contributions can affect the organization.

The lack of Employee engagement isn’t just the fault of an organization. There are people who are OK with doing ‘just enough’ to get by but an organization should do everything in its power to ensure that employees are happy and that they understand how valuable they are to the organization.

Whether you agree with the Towers Perrin study that found 20% engagement or Watson Wyatt’s 13% engagement, I think you’d have to agree that there is a problem. How many coworkers/employees do you know that are actively seeking employment elsewhere? How many are really doing the best job that they can do?

How can an organization engage employees? There’s no simple answer…it takes long-term effort by both the organization and the employee(s). I’m not an expert in this field (or any field!) but I will provide a few basic thoughts on how to get started engaging more employees.

  • Hire right
  • Don’t ask for (or expect) an employee to ‘live to work’ for you…respect their life outside of the office.
  • Hold all employees accountable. If an employee notices that there are ‘sacred cows’ that aren’t accountable for their actions, their level of effort and engagement will drop.
  • Offer flexibility for work hours
  • Offer job rotation opportunities – this would hold especially true to young/new employees….keep people interested and don’t let them get bored with their job.

Those are just a few thoughts…i’m sure there are many more. For a great follow-up article on the subject, read Wayne Turmel’s latest article titled “Employee Enagement has a ring to it” that discusses this topic…great article and worth reading.

[tags] Employee Engagement, Human Resources, Organizational Behavior [/tags]

Tagged , ,

About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
View all posts by Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. →
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] employee engagement might be the buzzword around the office, customer retention is obviously important as well. […]

Tim Wright
16 years ago

Eric – The number of engaged employees–and, conversely, those who are unengaged or actively disengaged–is startling. This is true whether it’s the Watson figure, the Towers Perrin number, or the more familiar Gallup Q12 29%. The clarity that contributes to an employee’s engagement is at two levels: clarity of expectation and clarity of communication of those expectations. There are two parts. The manager/supervisor must clearly know what is expected of the employee. In turn, that needs to be communicated clearly (and often) enough that the employee also knows the expectations. And one more quick thought: my guess is that the… Read more »

Eric Brown
16 years ago

Good points Tim. Expectations of employees and organizations are key to engaging employees and keeping them engaged.


16 years ago

Speaking as someone who is himself ‘disengaged’, I think that this is only going to increase. I recently resigned a semipermanent work gig as a Technical Project Manager because of severely bad fit between my skills, the job they advertised, and the work they actually needed done. Six months later and many conversations, emails, and attempts to rectify the situation and still add value to the company and I finally decided to just give up and seek something else. I have choices and options, even in this crazy economy. Or perhaps because of it. No employers seem to offer full… Read more »

Eric Brown
16 years ago

Adam – Great comment…I love this one:

“a certain point you have to evaluate whether the reward is worth the effort. And it hasn’t been worth the effort for a while now, but we’re just beginning to wake up and see it… and see our options”

You are so right…this is one of the reasons I’m on my own today!


[…] of talking about how to engage employees (like I’ve done here and here), I wanted to take a second to address one simple little topic that any organization and/or person […]