Tuesday 22 February 2011

Hay Group: Engagement Matters


  I’m pleased to introduce an additional new sponsor for my blog: Hay Group.


I’ve been looking through some of the firm’s recent research and wanted to comment on one study in particular: Engagement Matters.

This is based on research conducted in Europe and the Middle East with the Economist Intelligence Unit (Re-engaging with Engagement) which assessed attitudes to engagement of 300 C-suite executives, supplemented by Hay Group questioning 3000 mid and junior managers about how engaged they are.

The UK research finds that 29% of employees are disengaged – defined as unwilling to ‘go the extra mile’ for their firms – compared to 18% in France, 14% in Germany, 12% in Spain and just 11% in the Netherlands.

However Hay Group points out that engagement isn’t all that matters. People need to be enabled, ie to feel that they have everything in the way of resources, processes and procedures that they need to do their jobs properly (see my earlier post on this). 44% of UK employees feel they’re not being enabled to translate their enthusiasm into productive action. This was second in the survey only to France, where 48% of employees say they are not enabled.

Putting these two dimensions together shows that only 49% of UK employees are ‘effective’, ie are both engaged and enabled.

This is a serious issue - Hay Group suggests that organisations which perform best in terms of both engagement and enablement achieve 4.5 times as much revenue growth as their industry peers.

The good news is that the importance of the issue seems to be recognised with 82% of UK executives saying that disengaged employees are one of the three greatest threats they face. And 52% of C-suites in the UK are discussing employee engagement, much more than elsewhere in Europe.


Bad news re the C-suite

But there’s plenty of bad news too. For example, Hay Group makes the same point as Roffey (which I reported recently), that the C-suite is just too out of touch to influence engagement effectively.

Part of this is down to not hearing their employee’s voice. Although 47% of C-suite executives believe that they themselves have determined levels of employee engagement only 16% of senior directors outside the C-suite agree. And 23% of junior and mid-managers across Europe don’t believe that their organisations measure employee engagement at all. And in companies where they do measure engagement, 40% do not believe that this gives senior management a true picture of how engaged staff really are.

No surprise then that there are some interesting differences in perspective between the C-suite and those even just one level below. For example 21% of the C-level think engagement in their company is much higher than elsewhere but only 7% of senior directors agree. Similarly, 16% of C-suite believe their organisation’s engagement levels are much higher than they were two years ago but only 6% of their directors agree.

There are also some interestingly different perspectives about what causes engagement. So for example, 50% of C-suite executives believe that being regularly seen on the shopfloor is important whilst only 26% of senior directors believe this to be the case.


Who’s responsible for Engagement?

More broadly, Hay Group’s report also suggests confusion about who’s responsible for improving engagement. 63% of C-suite executives think that engagement is their responsibility, with few seeing line managers having a significant role. But only 38% of other senior directors believe that the C-suite has prime responsibility and few junior managers look to the C-suite for guidance: they expect line managers to take a lead.

One reading of this would be that the C-suite see themselves as responsible for identifying, selecting and deploying those that have direct influence with employees. However the EIU suggests this view is misplaced. Why for instance would 69% of the C-suite rate their own impact on overall staff engagement as at least seven out of ten while only 38% of senior directors give them the same score?

Well, there are some alternatives perspectives I think are equally credible. My own interpretation is that the C-suite is heavily responsible for engagement, but that it isn’t performing very well against this responsibility.

Also interestingly, not a single C-suite respondent of Hay Group’s survey suggested HR as being chiefly responsible for engagement. The EIU report suggests this means that the function is held in low regard by many in the top echelons. I put a slightly different spin on it. I think it just means that HR’s been successful in abnegating what should be part of its responsibility!


There are many more findings in the survey which should help stimulate your own thinking about the causes of engagement. Take a look here, or join in the conversation in the Engagement Matters Linkedin discussion group.


More from Hay Group:

View more thought pieces and case studies around the issue of engagement

- Employee engagement thought leadership

Take part in the firm’s Engagement Matters webinar

- Register now


This post is sponsored by Hay Group.

Hay Group is a global management consulting firm that works with leaders to transform strategy into reality. The firm develops talent, organises people to be more effective and motivates them to perform at their best. Its focus is on making change happen and helping people and organisations realise their potential.

Hay Group has over 2,600 employees working in 85 offices in 49 countries. Its clients come from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, across every major industry and represent diverse business challenges.

See more on Hay Group's blog and follow the firm on Twitter. Contact +44 (0) 20 7856 7000.



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