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Employee engagement remains stubbornly low

Contributor: Matthew Harradine |
unemployment

More than a quarter (28 percent) of employers struggle to engage their workforce. Employers say that lower productivity (59 percent) is being driven by a lack of employee engagement. Key warning signs include internet browsing, being constantly late and chatting with colleagues.

At a time of near full employment and in a candidate-led market, nearly one in three (28 percent) employers have admitted that they are struggling to keep their employees engaged, according to research released from totaljobs.

Over half of employers said lower productivity (59 percent) and internet browsing (55 percent) were clear signs of lower engagement they were seeing in the workplace. Worryingly, 62 percent said poor performance was a common problem as a result of a lack of engagement.

Almost half (48 percent) of employers also report disengaged employees continue to arrive late and leave early, while 41 percent said chatting with colleagues suggested a lack of workplace engagement. The same number again said taking too many breaks during work hours might also indicate disengagement, as well as employees appearing distracted.

Effective employee engagement strategies
But when it comes to tackling a lack of employee engagement, one in two employers (51 percent) said clear communication, via email, newsletters and team meetings for example, was an effective strategy to improve engagement. Nearly half (46 percent) of employers said setting out clear objectives for both individuals and teams was also effective.

Other supportive strategies to help employees engage with their work include:

  • Creating a stimulating work environment (39 percent)
  • Fostering a strong team dynamic (28 percent)
  • Building a strong and visible management team (25 percent)
  • Rewarding the most proactive or engaged employees (24 percent)

Interestingly, more than four in 10 employers (44 percent) said hiring the right staff in the first instance is one of the most important ways to foster employee engagement.

Work relationships creating stronger engagement
There may be an alternative solution, however. According to separate totaljobs’ research, 92 percent of employers say strong work relationships make people more engaged with their job. The value employees place on their working relationships has been recognised by employers, with 80 percent saying strong work connections are important.

Matthew Harradine, director at totaljobs, comments: “Our research suggests a real problem for employers. With the employment rate at record highs, it’s never been more important to keep staff engaged, which more often than not results in keeping them happy and retained.

“There are a number of simple solutions to achieve this, like clear communication, and building a strong and visible management team, but it also may come down to subtle changes which can foster all-important work friendships.”