Clear Review has joined Advanced - Discover our full suite of powerful and innovative people management solutions

Find out more
Back to blog

Employee engagement is everyone's responsibility. Not HR’s alone.

Photo 1531206715517 5c0ba140b2b8

Tra­di­tion­al­ly, the respon­si­bil­i­ty of mea­sur­ing employ­ee engage­ment has been pushed to HR. This usu­al­ly con­sists of year­ly employ­ee engage­ment sur­veys, with hun­dreds of ques­tions to rep­re­sent how engaged the work­force is. How­ev­er, research shows that only 22% of com­pa­nies are get­ting good results from engage­ment sur­veys. In real­i­ty, this approach has a cou­ple of flaws. First­ly, how can HR accu­rate­ly gauge whether employ­ees are engaged in their work, if they aren’t direct­ly involved in their day to day? Sec­ond­ly, respons­es to occa­sion­al sur­veys are sub­ject to how your employ­ees are doing at that par­tic­u­lar time. Any issues an employ­ee may have expe­ri­enced a few months ago, is rarely tak­en into account. Or if an employ­ee is hav­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly bad week the week of the engage­ment sur­vey, that could influ­ence their answer, regard­less of how immersed they usu­al­ly are in their work. This results in dis­tort­ed and unre­li­able data. 

If you tru­ly want to find out how engaged the work­force is, you need to share the respon­si­bil­i­ty. Direct man­agers, senior lead­ers and employ­ees all have a shared respon­si­bil­i­ty towards engage­ment with HR as the facil­i­ta­tors of engage­ment ini­tia­tives. In this arti­cle, we look at the ways in which HR, senior lead­ers, man­agers and employ­ees, can all con­tribute towards work engagement. 

HR should hold every­one accountable

HR should take own­er­ship of the engage­ment strat­e­gy by pitch­ing it to senior lead­ers and ensur­ing it runs smooth­ly. How­ev­er, you shouldn’t be held account­able for the engage­ment ini­tia­tives them­selves. Instead, you need to hold man­agers account­able for ensur­ing that the engage­ment ini­tia­tives are fol­lowed through. As facil­i­ta­tors, HR should choose the sys­tems and tools to allow man­agers to fol­low engage­ment ini­tia­tives in an easy way. When any issues arise, it should be your respon­si­bil­i­ty to address them and pro­vide employ­ees with the right tools to address them. In addi­tion to ensur­ing employ­ees are engaged, HR lead­ers must ensure that man­agers and lead­ers are engaged too. A sur­vey by Build­ing Staff Engage­ment revealed that three in five L&D lead­ers thought that management’s engage­ment was one of the biggest bar­ri­ers to suc­cess. Man­agers need to be engaged in their work and be com­fort­able report­ing that. 

Senior lead­ers must dri­ve the cul­tur­al shift

Senior lead­ers play an impor­tant role in cre­at­ing a cul­ture where engage­ment is a pri­or­i­ty and where it can thrive. Get­ting senior lead­ers on board shows the com­mit­ment of an organ­i­sa­tion to bring­ing engage­ment ini­tia­tives to life. This kind of cul­tur­al shift can have a huge impact on pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and prof­itabil­i­ty of a com­pa­ny. For exam­ple, one long term study showed that good com­pa­ny cul­ture increas­es rev­enue. This study looked at 200 com­pa­nies – some with per­for­mance enhanc­ing cul­tures and some with­out. Com­pa­nies that had per­for­mance enhanc­ing cul­tures had an aver­age increase of 682% rev­enue growth, com­pared to 166% in com­pa­nies with­out per­for­mance enhanc­ing cul­tures. If senior lead­er­ship set the tone for engage­ment ini­tia­tives for the rest of the com­pa­ny, it can hold a lot of value. 

For exam­ple, senior lead­ers could cre­ate a cul­ture where employ­ees are empow­ered to use their ini­tia­tive to solve prob­lems. Hyatt hotel chain fol­low a sim­i­lar prac­tice in which their employ­ees (or asso­ciates as they’re called at Hyatt), use their own intu­ition to solve prob­lems rather than fol­low­ing scripts of what to do. Despite oper­at­ing in an indus­try known for high staff turnover, Hyatt’s employ­ee reten­tion is high which is large­ly due to their focus on employ­ee development. 

The key to employee engagement

Learn more about employee engagement from our collection of free resources. You'll discover how you can boost performance and productivity through improving employee engagement.

Find out more

Direct man­agers must under­stand and moti­vate their employees

Direct man­agers work with employ­ees on a day to day basis. They know what’s going on and under­stand them much bet­ter than senior lead­er­ship or HR can. How­ev­er, accord­ing to Gallup, man­agers account for over 70% of the vari­ance in employ­ee engage­ment. This is huge. Man­agers have so much impact on how engaged an employ­ee is which makes it impor­tant for man­agers to imple­ment engage­ment ini­tia­tives set out by lead­er­ship and HR. Any con­cerns and opin­ions from employ­ees should be relayed back to HR and leadership.

How­ev­er, mere com­mu­ni­ca­tion between man­agers and employ­ees is not enough to increase engage­ment. Man­agers need to talk about not just work but what hap­pens out­side work. Gallup reveals that employ­ees who feel their man­ag­er is invest­ed in them as peo­ple are more like­ly to be engaged. Man­agers also need to under­stand that each per­son they man­age is dif­fer­ent with dif­fer­ent chal­lenges. They need to know their employ­ees as peo­ple first.

Putting your team’s engage­ment first can help you devel­op strong rela­tion­ships with them. You can work togeth­er to cre­ate mean­ing­ful goals and iden­ti­fy team mem­bers ready for pro­gres­sion and new opportunities.

Employ­ees must be respon­si­ble for their own engagement

Employ­ees need to be open and hon­est about what is and what isn’t work­ing with the cur­rent engage­ment strat­e­gy. They should seek learn­ing and devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for their per­son­al growth and pro­vide updates on per­son­al growth. They should be think­ing about what is going to improve the employ­ee expe­ri­ence, and what is going to make them feel immersed in their work and be able to share that with their managers.

One way employ­ees could feel more engaged at work is through Cog­ni­tive Craft­ing. Cog­ni­tive Craft­ing encour­ages you try to think of your day to day tasks dif­fer­ent­ly. Rather than think­ing, I have to do this,” it may be bet­ter to ask your­self what can I learn from this?” A study found that when employ­ees are moti­vat­ed by curios­i­ty rather than oblig­a­tion, they feel more sat­is­fied with their achievements.

Unless employ­ees assume some respon­si­bil­i­ty for their engage­ment, ini­tia­tives by man­agers and HR may have lit­tle impact on improv­ing employ­ee engagement.

Learn more about employ­ee engagement

Find out how engage­ment impacts per­for­mance, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and the bot­tom line in our recent eBook on Pow­er­ing per­for­mance with engaged people.”

Download eBook here

Relat­ed articles

How employee engagement and performance are intrinsically linked
A look at new tools and thinking designed to connect employee engagement and performance management with the aim of producing sustained high performance throughout your organization.
Read article
Employee engagement: Why you're measuring it in the wrong way
Employee engagement, and why you may not be getting the commercial and productivity value you need from it
Read article