Clear confusion over engagement

Increasingly we hear the message that engaging staff is vital where organisations are under pressure to reduce costs without damaging staff motivation, commitment and wellbeing.  But the advice on how this can be achieved can sometimes seem confusing or conflicting.

At the recent conference of the PPMA (Public Sector People Managers Association) delegates listened to presentations by leading business school/management school professors.  But whereas one focused on leadership as the key to engagement, another suggested it was about a wider variety of factors such as meaningful work, supportive work settings, line management style, giving employees’ voice, and fitting the person to the job – as well as leadership.

So should we focus our engagement programmes on leadership alone and/or on all of the other factors?  Both sets of researchers show that leaders play an important role in employee morale, wellbeing, motivation and productivity – indeed without them on side any intervention may be doomed to failure.  But leaders do not exist in a vacuum, engagement is not something leaders do to staff – employee attitudes and behaviours contribute to the engaged (or unengaged) culture too. 

So if there is no single solution to engagement, where should you begin your programme of activity?  To find out what needs addressing you can start by asking staff for their experiences and opinions.  And if you don’t know what specifically to ask or how to ask it, remember we can help.




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