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Only a quarter of UK employees feel actively engaged in their job, spelling bad news for organisations whose disaffected employees could be turning customers away, according to new research by The Institute of Customer Service on Employee Engagement.

The findings also provide evidence to show why Boardrooms should tackle the issue of employee engagement, as the data shows that just 11% of customers say they would repurchase from an organisation following a bad experience with an employee. Worse still, 43% of customers will also actively warn others against using the organisation.

It is clear from the research that most UK employees have not received customer service training in their current organisation. The result is that only 14% of employees spoke positively about their organisation during a ‘bad’ customer experience, risking damage to reputation and discouraging repeat custom.

Jo Causon, chief executive of The Institute of Customer Service said: “The low level of employee engagement we’re witnessing in UK organisations should be setting alarm bells ringing in the boardroom. There is a clear correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction: disinterested staff often fail to make a lasting impression with customers, with the result that they take their custom elsewhere.

“Where organisations focus on understanding their employees better, developing their skills, and recognising a job well done, we will see better engagement and with it, better business performance.”.

More encouragingly, the research found that organisations investing time in their employees will reap rewards. Business executives interviewed as part of the study cited engaged employees as being more efficient, more likely to develop emotional connections with customers and get their interactions ‘right first time,’ leading to better customer experiences, reduced costs and returning custom. Consumers support this, with 67% saying a good experience will lead to them buying again.

In fact, when an organisation’s engagement survey scores are cross-referenced with its customer satisfaction score in the UK Customer Satisfaction Index, the impact on business performance is clear: for every 1 point increase in employee engagement, customer satisfaction rises by 0.41 points.

The research also reveals that levels of engagement are not clear cut across employees or industries. Call centre staff are least engaged, with retail and office staff the most ‘passively engaged’.

Business leaders will also be concerned to learn that just 21% of 18-24 year olds consider themselves engaged in their role. A total of 37% say they will look for a new job within the next year, which means organisations that neglect this age group could risk creating a lost generation in the workplace.

The report goes on to share best practice in measuring employee engagement, and guidance on how to improve engagement levels in an organisation. These highlight the critical role of line managers, regular and authentic communication, and the importance of recognising and developing staff.

It suggests that Boardrooms need to develop programmes which:• Bring an organisation’s vision and values to life• Involve employees in decisions affecting them, so they have a genuine voice• Empower employees with the knowledge, tools and confidence to make decisions that do the right thing for customers.

Ms. Causon added: “Engaged and empowered employees are not only great ambassadors for an organisation, they are crucial to driving long term customer satisfaction and securing future profitability.

“If employees are not given the tools or environment to deliver a great customer experience, Boards should not be surprised to see the bottom line affected.”