• Diarmuid Russell
  • Tom O’Byrne
  • Michael Moran
  • Jeremy Stinton
Vice President of International, Glassdoor

Why should companies be prioritising employee engagement?

Having a satisfied workforce means your people are going to work harder for you and be more loyal. That's obvious and hasn't really changed. What has changed — because of internet forums, social media and sites such as ours — is that, if you're an employer who isn't doing a good job in this area, it becomes public... and much more quickly than it used to.

You want to build an engaged workforce. Where do you start?

Think about what you stand for as an employer and the key things you want your employees to take away from working with you. Ensure that your messages are in tune with reality. If you say 'we're an amazing company with a great work life balance' but, in fact, the opposite is true, then that message will only fall flat. Recruit people who chime with values of your company. Pay attention to feedback — and be authentic in your response to problems.

Is there a 'dark side' to employee engagement?

I can't see any dark side to actively engaging with your workforce. But it's important to understand what an employee engagement strategy is. For me, it isn't about 'happy employees'. True engagement is about employing people who care deeply about what they're doing, and who believe that they can affect change in their organisation because it listens to them, supports them and gives them the tools to do so.

CEO, Great Place to Work

Why should companies be prioritising employee engagement?

It’s now almost universally accepted that engaged employees are good for business – it’s today’s version of ‘people are an organisation’s greatest asset’. But the focus shouldn’t be performance – it’s about recognising the need to create the right kind of environment that people will want to join, stay and be successful in. That is what will help drive performance. And rather than prioritising, engagement needs to be part of how an organisation runs its business, its DNA.

You want to build an engaged workforce. Where do you start? 

Firstly, you need to recognise that this involves commitment – an ongoing commitment to do what’s right for your employees, and for your employees to have a say in that commitment. And you need to be doing it for the right reasons – you want to make your workplace the best it can be for the benefit of your employees, not as a way of boosting performance. Only then should you explore how ‘engaged’ your people are and where you may need to improve to create and sustain a great workplace.

Is there a dark side to employee engagement? 

There is no universally accepted definition which makes it harder to measure, and achieve consistency across organisations. The different levels employees are expected to ‘go beyond’ – job, organisation, colleagues, customers, etc. - can lead to burnout and may not suit everyone’s personality. Engagement risks being over-simplified and reduced to a formula where the focus is on performance rather than fixing problems with the way employers interact with employees.

CEO, 10Eighty

Why should companies be prioritising employee engagement?

Engaged employees are more productive, deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction and are more loyal (and stay with you longer). Surprise, surprise - these are the levers that deliver profitability and shareholder value. Need I say more!

You want to build employee engagement. Where do you start?

It sounds very simplistic, but all you need to do is ask the employee. If you understand what is important to them, what motivates them, and what is it they like doing and are consequently good at, and you sculpt their job around those three things, you will have an highly engaged, loyal and most importantly a highly productive employee. Sadly most organisations come from the opposite perspective; this is how we want you to do the job, now ensure you meet our requirements. The consequence of this approach is to "shoe horn" the employee into what the job requires.

I appreciate it will not always be possible to meet employee's values, motivators and talents; in that case, they are in the wrong job. It is best for both parties to recognise that fact and go their separate ways at that point. However, if you can design jobs around values, motivators and talents, employers will have highly productive employees, thereby driving profitability and shareholder value.

Is there a dark side to employee engagement?

No. But what we know is that employees are more likely to be engaged if there is an alignment between their values and the organisational values. We know that integrity is a key driver of employee engagement. Do I believe in what the organisation is trying to achieve? Am I proud to say I work for the organisation? are key questions employees will ask. Organisations that fail to align themselves to the values of their employees will find a disconnect that will adversely impact on productivity and profitability.

COO, Buto

Why should companies be prioritising employee engagement?

Employee engagement, done correctly, drives productivity and ultimately improvements to the bottom line. The average UK organisation already trails the rest of the developed world in terms of productivity, so those that don't wake up to the need for employee engagement are highly likely to be left by the way-side in a globalised world. For example, encouraging shop floor input at BAE and creating a more engaged workforce has reduced the time taken to build fighter planes by 25%.

You want to build an engaged workforce. Where do you start? 

A common theme recognised by Engage for Success founders David MacLeod and Nita Clarke in organisations with high levels of performance was the notion of introducing ‘employee voice’ throughout the organisation. Putting in place mechanisms for employees to feedback and be engaged in conversation it seems, is vital. As an enterprise video platform, we are currently seeing an explosion in the desire to facilitate user generated video content; empowering managers and allowing staff to communicate.

Is there a dark side to employee engagement? 

For me, the biggest dark side to employee engagement is not doing it: Disengaged employees are consistently proven to be less productive. What’s more, if you don’t communicate with your employees they will do it for you anyway: The rumors they circulate may, or more likely may not, be true.

The other ‘dark side’ is doing employee engagement badly: Insincere, inauthentic comms, for example, can be hugely damaging. As are engagement programmes that aren’t backed-up and reflected by actions of senior leaders.