Low engagement is a strategic risk

Improving employee engagement is an enduring topic within the business world. When people flourish, so do the organisations they work for, making an effective employee engagement strategy essential. Conversely, demotivated employees can hold businesses back. When people lack motivation, they are unlikely to do their best work, are less productive and are more likely to leave – increasing overall attrition and its associated costs.

The risks of low engagement to the UK economy became a key focus for business leaders and government as we approached the late-2008 financial crisis and the recession years that followed. Did you know that a study by ‘Engage for Success’ found that only a third of UK employees say they are actively engaged at work - That’s 20 million workers not delivering their full capacity? UK productivity is 20% lower than the rest of the G7.

Results from a 2014 survey held by the Global Human Trends indicated that leadership as the most urgent issue, with engagement and retention following. This reaffirms that the two are very much connected; employee engagement levels are directly affected by the organisations leaders. Investing time and effort in motivating employees is essential in any organisation and research into the subject provides clear strategies to help you get the best from your people.

Influencing performance through team values

Leaders have a significant impact: whether they lead a business, ideology or country, their values and behaviours set the tone for how the organisation operates.

Leaders of the future will function in a world where technology continues to significantly change the nature; structure and operation of businesses, where their organisations are populated by people from generations that value freedom of choice, openness, transparency and collaboration. In this world, leadership agility, the ability to make human connections across the spectrum of human behaviour, will be paramount to their success. They will be judged more for their values, a capacity to harness human capability and embrace difference than for their technical expertise.

It is perhaps foreseeable that in this world, the word ‘manager’ will become obsolete, replaced by words which better reflect their ability to harness the combined energy and diverse thinking of their teams and channelling it into ways in which value can be added by to the company and the individual. In this world, alignment and engagement will be achieved a by leaders who are prepared be as supportive as they are challenging.

Thomas International recently issued a survey to over 200 business owners and HR professionals to gather data on their thoughts on identifying leadership potential, driving employee engagement through effective leadership and their current leadership and here is just some of the findings.

The nature of leadership is changing in response to the rapid developments in technology and the generational make-up of the workforce. The leaders of the future will need to demonstrate qualities that may not presently be recognised as crucial for success.

Survey respondents indicated that their leaders are not as self-aware as they could be, with 62% being rate as average or less. If a leader is not aware of their impact on others, how can they drive engagement and performance? How can you raise self-awareness effectively? This is where objective measures like psychometric assessments can be exceptionally valuable.

Finally, some food for thought:

Peter Drucker, famous for putting the right people into the right enterprises all over the world, once said:

“I always ask myself, would I want one of my children to work under that person? If he is successful, then young people will imitate him. Would I want my son or daughter to look like this?”

By Jayson Darby, psychology manager at Thomas International