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Research Revealed: 3 Winning Ingredients for Employee Engagement

December 28th 2018

Our latest Employee Benchmarking Report reveals the most crucial factors that drove employee engagement in 2018 (and they’re surprisingly simple). 

The case for an increased focus on employee engagement is compelling. If you want to build a passionate, driven workforce who go the extra mile for your customers and improve financial performance, our latest research suggests that it should become your new priority. 

Traditionally, employee satisfaction has been the ultimate goal strived for by companies across industry sectors for decades. However, when we look closely at the companies achieving the best all-round results, we can see clearly that engagement is now putting satisfaction firmly in the shade.  

Why? 

Simply because employee engagement reaches far beyond satisfaction. It is a state of mind whereby an employee believes in and invests everything into their company and their role within it. Engaged employees are keen to think about and voice ideas to improve their job role, as well as the roles of their colleagues, and how to benefit their company as a whole. They feel valued and appreciated for their input and, as a result, they have a genuine understanding and passion for what their company does. This, inevitably, makes them want to talk about it long after the boss has left the room and the work day is done, and more attentive when it comes to customer service. 

A (Simple) Winning Recipe 

When it comes to unlocking employee satisfaction, the solution can be as simple as offering a juicier salary or better perks, but these just aren’t going to cut it when it comes to fostering employee engagement.  

The latest insights and data from our UK employee engagement survey reveal the 3 crucial factors that employees crave the most: 

  • ‘Understanding what is required of you’ - Over a third (36%) UK workers rated understanding what they need to do to fulfil their job responsibilities as their number one engagement factor.  

  • ‘Working closely with your immediate team’ - 30% of UK workers rated close team working as their second highest engagement factor. 

  • ‘Support from your line manager’ - 28% of UK workers rated backing from their immediate manager as their third highest engagement factor.  

What we found so compelling about these results, is that ‘understanding what is required of you’ came out top in this survey. This is something that is typically addressed mainly at the beginning of a new role, or during personal development and performance reviews.  

However, these findings reveal that regular communication with employees about their specific responsibilities is the key ingredient to boosting engagement. Confirming what an employee’s role entails, and what their duties are, helps keep them task-focused and encourages autonomy. The end goal becomes clear, and how that individual chooses to achieve it is left to them. Regularly communicating to employees about what they need to do also affords companies the opportunity to highlight how their individual role contributes to the organisation’s goals and the bigger picture.  

This may sound simple but receiving a salary and all of the associated benefits that add up to employee satisfaction depends on fulfilling the job requirements correctly. Allocating regular time to reinforce and revisit your employees’ principle responsibilities assures them that they are on track and accomplishing at work. 

Decoding Employee Disengagement 

As part of our results collation, we used sentiment analysis techniques as an innovative way to gain further insight to the top causes of disengagement in employees across multiple industry sectors. Sentiment analysis allows us to take away and quantify common themes in the answers we receive. When we apply this to individual company research, this extensive approach allows us to identify the exact level of disengagement among the employees surveyed, as well as its root causes and the positive actions needed to reignite engagement. 

Sentiment analysis works by calculating the extent by which employee responses are positive or negative, on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0. The higher the score, the more positive the tone of responses received. When responses are closer to 0.0, this indicated a more negative tone. 

During the research period of 10 months – leading up to October 2018 – the top 3 factors for UK employee disengagement were: 

Organisation: 0.37 

Management: 0.44 

Training: 0.53 

Where employees felt more engaged with their role and employer, the scores were consistently higher. 

Comments received where engagement was at its lowest included: 

  • Organisation:  “Poor organisation and lack of support by management.” 

  • Management: “My line manager is brilliant but there are still issues with some senior management engaging with staff productively.” 

  • Training: “No support, no time to do training – just a constant battle.” 

If you could change just one thing… 

Our survey got straight to the point and asked employees what aspect about their employer, if they could only name one… 

Using our 0.0 to 1.0 sentiment scale, the employees who felt the strongest about their chosen aspect gave the lower scores, with the higher scores given to the aspects employees felt the least strongly about. 

The top 3 aspects identified from the ten-month research period were: 

Support: 0.47 

Working Hours: 0.48 

Pay: 0.58  

Comments behind these responses included: 

  • Support: “Provide more support when asked and not feel forced to do it.” 

  • Working Hours: “Reduce working hours, I currently work in excess of 42 hours per week.” 
  • Pay: “My pay is much lower than similar roles in the private sector, so more pay.” 

When it comes to the one thing that upsets employees the most, our research points to a lack of support provided by managers and the wider organisation. 

Management support comes in several different guises, from ensuring employees have the right tools and training to carry out their job effectively, to giving emotional support when something goes wrong. It also comes in the form of being flexible, for example, enabling people to work from home sometimes or adopting a flexitime schedule to help achieve a better work/life balance. Support can also mean giving measured, thoughtful critiques on performance – even if negative – so that it encourages rather than crushes an individual’s mindset.     

But offering these types of support is only possible the right people are put into leadership roles in the first place. Identifying leaders who naturally connect with and care about people will pay infinite dividends in terms of the love employees give back. As countless employee studies show, staff who feel supported and appreciated by their manager are much more likely to go the extra mile for the company and, if they are happy in their work, stay for the long-term too. So, if you want to improve engagement, start by appointing positive, people-focussed managers in the first place.        

How to Win at Employee Engagement in 2019 

When it comes to improving employee engagement, the process starts from the top down for many companies. Leaders and senior managers start second-guessing what their employees really want but, as we can now see from our results, this often boils down to the simplest of factors that make a genuine difference to engagement and motivation. 

  • Clearly defining and communicating responsibilities and duties 

  • Showing people how their individual role makes a difference 

  • Offering direct support and a listening ear.  

Implementing dedicated employee engagement research benefits all kinds of organisations by revealing the specific attributes employees value the most and want to see more of – fostering engagement and job longevity. When your employees are engaged and connected with their work, they are increasingly likely to go the extra mile with their customer service, which has the knock-on benefit of improving customer satisfaction and gaining your organisation a competitive advantage. 

Improve your Employee Engagement Today 

TTi Global Research is a leading provider of employee engagement and satisfaction research to companies worldwide, including top brands Jaguar Land Rover, Haymarket and Northern Gas Networks. We conduct all types and scale of employee research and surveys, from Employee Pulse Surveys to complete Employee Engagement Quality Analysis Research programmes, improving staff engagement and customer-delighting behaviours. To find out more about our employee research or employee engagement benchmarking data, contact us here.