Engagement, happiness and performance - untangling the relationships.
Updated: Jul 15
UPDATE – April 20 – As we all, in some way or another, adapt and adjust to the challenges caused by Covid-19, truly understanding employee engagement (and fulfilment) is as relevant – if not more so – than ever.
With an estimated £300bn lost through lack of employee engagement in the UK each year, it is little wonder that engagement has become somewhat of a holy grail to business owners and organisational leaders. Despite the increased attention, and investment, in improving engagement, we are seeing little shift in the stats. In fact, the problem seems to be getting worse in the UK.
Part of the problem, we would argue, is that too often we don’t truly understand engagement. We’ve assumed that a happy worker is an engaged worker – which may well be true (to an extent) – but then made the leap that keeping people ‘happy’ involves a mix of giving them what we think they want, and what they’re telling us they want.
That broadly equates to good pay and benefits, a productive working environment, flexible working hours, a good holiday allowance, a budget for self-development, staff celebrations, parties and away days, generous policies around sick leave/care responsibilities and so on.
Now while all of that is important and indeed might well be characteristics of an organisation with an engaged workforce, they are not in and of themselves sufficient for high employee engagement. Without some other vital ingredients, they are not a guarantee of engaged and high performing employees.
While people might say that is what they want (and they might say it’ll attract them and help them stay at an organisation), the reality of what helps people be productive, do great work and stay engaged is somewhat different.
If we want to really understand engagement, we need to look at the science of what people really want. There’s no end of research on this and there’s also high consistency in what the evidence base has, and continues, to tell us.
People do their best work (so are their most engaged) when they:
If you’re not sure of the evidence base, we urge you to run a small experiment.
Ask a group of people you work with to share stories of when they’ve done their best work and been most engaged at work. Ask them to describe what was going on, what contributed to their sense of engagement, and how it felt.
We suspect you’ll hear more stories that backs up the research – and probably far less about great office spaces, beer on a Friday or a generous holiday allowance.
So if you are after an engaged workforce, start to think about how to help people do meaningful work, in high performing teams.
It is, but it’s different from how we’re currently thinking about people, performance, productivity and engagement
Employee engagement is a topic that we are hugely passionate about and was the reason we developed our tool, Pulse 360, which aims to support real employee engagement and performance.
For employees, it supports taking charge of their own development, and for real-time feedback to be requested and shared.
For organisations, it helps leaders collate information on key issues and provides an opportunity for the employee voice to be heard.
Used across an organisation, it can lead to a shift to a high-performance feedback culture.
Pulse 360 has been developed and created by Foundation SP - a three-time winner of Great Place to Work ® and a thought leader in employee engagement and workplace culture.
We are passionate evangelists for modern ways of working that support organisational growth and employee impact. Pulse 360 is a fresh approach to feedback and employee development from an award-winning employer.
*1 - Gallup, State of the Global Workplace, 2017