What Drives Employee Engagement?

HR & Safety

Disengaged employees are 2.5 times more likely to quit

Employee engagement is a critical component of the relationship between an employee and an employer,” says CBIA’s HR counsel Mark Soycher. “Engaged employees are enthused about their job, feel positively connected with coworkers, and can be active champions of the company’s reputation and interests: all of which lead to increased productivity and ultimately company profitability.”

Soycher notes that visible metrics of employee engagement include lower absenteeism, improved recruitment results, and increased retention.

“People want to work at companies with engaged employees, and once hired, they don’t want to leave.”

Three Keys to Engagement

In their State of the American Workplace: 2010-2012 report, Gallup identifies three types of employees: engaged, not-engaged, and actively disengaged.

“Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company,” states the report. “They drive innovation and move their organization forward. Not-engaged employees are essentially ‘checked out.’ They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time: but not energy or passion: into their work. Actively disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.”

Why are some employees engaged and others anything but? A recent study conducted by MSW Research on behalf of Dale Carnegie Training surveyed a representative national sample of 1,500 workers to learn about the factors that contribute most to employee engagement.

The study revealed that 29% of workers are engaged, 45% not engaged, and more than a quarter (26%) actively disengaged.

The most dramatic finding of the study is that if employees are dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor, there is an 80% chance that they are disengaged. This statistic reinforces the significance of building positive relationships in the workplace. Similarly, having a “caring” manager is one of the key elements to a positive and successful employee engagement strategy. Employees want to feel valued and have their manager take an interest in their personal lives, health, and well-being.

The second driver of employee engagement is a belief in senior leadership. Employees are inspired by having role models that encourage goal achievement, contributing to positive engagement and a better overall workplace environment.

Finally, employee engagement is highest among those who take pride in working for their company.

The Carnegie study identified four traits that engaged employees exhibit:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Inspiration
  3. Empowerment
  4. Confidence

Carnegie Study Highlights

Disengaged employees are two-and-a-half times more likely to leave for any level of pay increase compared to those employees who are engaged.

  • 26% of engaged employees would leave their current job for just a 5% pay increase.
  • 46% of partially engaged employees would leave their current job for just a 5% pay increase, while 69% of disengaged employees would do so.

Employees’ engagement rates are directly tied to feelings about interaction with their immediate supervisor.

  • 49% of employees who are satisfied with their direct manager are engaged.
  • 80% of employees who are very dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor are disengaged.
  • 40% of employees who feel empowered by their supervisor are engaged.

Personal lives are no longer off limits. Employees who view their managers as caring about their personal lives are more engaged.

  • 66% of employees believe their manager does not care about their personal life.
  • 54% of employees are engaged when they believe their manager cares about their personal life.
  • 17% of employees are engaged when they believe their manager does not care about their personal life.

Senior leadership’s actions also have a direct impact on employee engagement.

  • >61% of employees who have confidence in their senior leaders’ abilities and think that they are moving the organization in the right direction are fully engaged.
  • 61% of employees who say they are satisfied with the amount of input they have in decisions affecting their work are engaged.
  • 60% of employees who feel they have an impact on the direction of the company are engaged.

View an infographic summarizing the results.

Read Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2010-2012 report.

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