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Employee engagement: why your staff aren't happy, motivated, or productive

This week sees the launch of the UK’s first Employee Engagement Week.

The week aims to raise awareness of what employee engagement actually is, how it can affect your business, and the benefits it can bring.

So much more than a buzzword, employee engagement is one of the most important elements of any business; in fact, it is ranked as the number 1 priority for HR professionals in the UK. (CIPDs HR Outlook Report for 2015) However, the study also shows that just 39% of the UK’s 32 million employees are engaged which means that the UK is now ranked ninth for employee engagement levels amongst the world’s twelve largest economies (as ranked by GDP) (Kenexa 2009).

But that’s not all…a study, conducted by research firm Gallup, shows that only 17% of UK employees describe themselves as engaged, and these levels of disengagement are hurting organisations of all shapes and sizes, as well as having a negative impact on the UK economy as a whole.

Why is employee engagement important?

On the most basic level, engaged employees are happier employees. Disengaged, or unhappy, employees are generally unmotivated. Engagement increases motivation meaning that employees are more productive, make better decisions, and work harder to ensure that the business succeeds.

Research shows that 71% of business executives know that employee engagement is very important in achieving business success but, only 24% say that employees in their organisation are highly engaged. There is still a lot to do.

Below, we’ve listed some key reasons as to why your employees may not be fully engaged. These are all rectifiable and acknowledging and improving on each of them can help your business raise its engagement levels, leading to a happier and more productive workforce.

As always, if you have any comments, we'd love to hear them so please leave us a message in the box at the bottom of the page.

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6 reasons your staff may not be engaged:

1. Your foundations aren’t in place

It’s great business strategy to have a big end goal but you’ll struggle to achieve it without having the basics in place first. Think about who will be helping your business on its growth journey: your employees!

If you want to reach the top, you need to make sure that your employees know exactly what is expected of them and that they have everything they need in order to do their job, not just properly, but efficiently and effectively, too.

2. You’re not clear on performance management

Your employees deserve feedback on their performance – good or bad. It’s so important to reward good work (verbally, monetarily, etc) because people want to know that what they’re doing is helping the company grow and move closer to achieving its goals.

Similarly, if what they’re doing isn’t benefitting the company, they not only need to be told what and why, but how to ensure it doesn’t continue to happen. If you have bad performance management, it’s very difficult for employees to be properly engaged as they don’t know what they’re doing right or where they need to improve.

3. Don’t blame it on the weather

Blaming your business’ problems - such as downturn or redundancies - on the economy won’t help your employees’ engagement levels. If the cause of your troubles are out of your (and their) hands, then surely working harder or being more engaged wouldn’t make a difference.

However, this is very unlikely to be the truth. By accepting more responsibility, being open, and maintaining regular communication with your employees, you should still be able to encourage a strong company culture – even in the face of adversary.

4. Not understanding what engagement means

If you don’t fully understand what it means to be “engaged”, or how it can benefit your business, how can you expect to have engaged employees and a successful company?

Taking the time to figure this out, and making sure that you understand the benefits of engagement, can do wonders for your employees’ happiness, motivation, productivity, and by extension – your business.

5. Your Human Resources are lacking

Perhaps your business is too early stage to have a dedicated HR department or perhaps your employees just don’t feel as though they have anyone they can talk to. Everyone needs someone they can go to for advice, queries, problems, and suggestions; if they have no outlet, things can build up or they may become disengaged. Companies with engaged workforces have HR departments which listen, influence, motivate, teach, and hold others accountable where necessary.

6. Trust is an issue

Trust and support are so important when it comes to the teamwork a company needs in order to succeed. Holding your managers accountable for their work, whilst supporting them fully, creates a strong team, capable of working together to achieve great things. Devising and sticking to action plans can have a huge impact on increasing employee engagement as people are more aware of what is expected of them.

If you think your company may be suffering from disengaged employees, the sooner you act, the better. Employee engagement tool “Hive” are revolutionising the way in which employee engagement is analysed and measured through a weekly survey system.

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