how to increase employee engagement 2How To Increase Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a big deal.

Those that get it right outperform competitors on every scale that matters. Revenue growth, customer service, innovation, staff health, accidents at work… the list goes on.

So how is it that according to Gallup (1), globally only 13% of employees are engaged? In Western Europe it rises to 14%, and the UK comes in at an underwhelming 17%.

That means within the UK, less than 1 in 5 are engaged. That’s over 80% of employees who lack commitment, vigour, energy, and shy away from putting in discretionary effort.

The impact on increasing employee engagement on the UK’s economy is in excess of £50 billion (2), and over $350 billion in the US (3).

Of those who are engaged, only 8% of the UK’s workforce is ‘highly engaged’ (4). Those who are highly engaged offer at least a 20% performance improvement over those who are not. Each 10% increase in employee commitment decreases they chance of leaving by 9% – meaning less costly recruitment. Just increasing a country’s employee engagement levels by 1% would increase GDP by 4.8% (5).

No doubt you think your company bucks the trend. If you are a director, you demand your staff work hard. If you work in HR, you will know a lot more can be done.

But what can a company do to increase employee engagement levels? This is the first in a series of articles on how to increase employee engagement.

How to increase employee engagement

The following provides a few key areas key to increasing employee engagement and driving business growth;

  • Vision – have a clearly defined compelling aspirational vision, with a set of values which match those behaviours you seek within your organisation (see the importance of vision).
  • Vision communication – Ensure every employee understands the vision, objectives and values, with their head, as well as their heart.
  • Importance of role – Explain the importance of  their role to achieving the vision and related objectives
  • Management skills– Develop leadership and management skills across the organisation. Poorly performing managers result in disengaged employees.
  • Collaboration – Engage with your employees regarding goals and objectives
  • Development – Ensure employees’ personal vision and goals are accommodated
  • Empower your employees to carry out their roles in the way they see fit (though in line with company values)
  • Communicate regularly and effectively, as a two way mechanism
  • Listen, elicit feedback, in order to develop and improve
  • Accountability – Hold all staff accountable to the objectives and values, with real consequences if employees don’t
  • Ensure ‘hygiene’ factors such as salary, working conditions, job title are at least on a par with elsewhere

Most organisations have very few of the above eleven items – yet get it right and your results will skyrocket.

What is the key engagement driver?

You can probably think of many more. The CEB (6) states the most important of 25 top employee engagement drivers is “a connection between an employee’s job and organisational strategy.”

This alone is interesting, as most companies, regardless of size, do not have a clear and compelling aspirational vision. Most have something meaningless.

“To be the biggest and best at what we do whilst delighting our customers” (yawn)

Or worse, a paraphrase of,

“To reach a revenue figure to make our shareholders rich” (just awful)

Very few have something like Microsoft’s original vision; “A personal computer on every desk and in every home”.

Why vision matters

Without a clear and compelling aspirational vision, how can employees truly understand how their role matters? Why would they want to put their full selves into work if they don’t understand the difference they make?

It is no surprise that a recurring theme when interviewing enthusiastic and highly committed employees is that they feel they are “making a difference“.

This lack of vision, with corresponding engagement, is one of the biggest reasons for the low percentage of engagement employees. But get it right,  and it’s like how a recent manager I interviewed described it; “I feel like the chained Audi RS4 advert, I’m ready to go”.

In the following weeks and months I will write more about how to grow your business and outperform your competitors by fully engaging your staff. In the meantime, if you have any questions please drop me a line.

To your success.

Mark Bateman


Feel free to contact me for more information if you are looking to develop your leaders, managers, board or general culture within your organisation in order to improve performance.


(C) Welcome Insight 2014. Author Mark Bateman. Flickr image by HikingArtist


Employee Engagement Data Sources:

(1, 3) Gallup (2002), The High Cost of Disengaged Employees, Business Journal, ( [accessed 22/6/15]

(2) Gallup Inc. (2013). State of the American workplace: Employee engagement insights for U.S. business leaders. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved fromóSOOy/state-american-workplace.aspx [accessed 3/8/15]

(4) Alfes K., Truss C., Soane E., Rees C. and Gatenby M., (2010). Creating an engaged workforce: findings from the Kingston employee engagement consortium project. London: CIPD.

(5) Kenexa (2012). The Many Contexts of Employee Engagement – A 2012/2013 Kenexa WorkTrends Report. Kenexa

(6) CEB (2004), Driving Performance and Retention Through Employee Engagement – A Quantitative Analysis of Effective Engagement Strategies, Corporate Leadership Council, Corporate Executive Board, Washington.