Lack of employee engagement major problem: Survey

Listening to employees’ opinions, clear expectations can help

Lack of employee engagement is a major issue among Canadian firms, according to a survey by Psychometrics Canada. Sixty-nine per cent of the 368 HR professionals surveyed across the country said employee disengagement is problematic in their organization. Eighty-two per cent said it is very important that their organizations address employee engagement.

“A paycheque is not enough,” said Mark Fitzsimmons, president of Psychometrics Canada. “To keep staff engaged, organizations need to give them the opportunity to use their skills, to be creative and, most of all, to be listened to.”

The vast majority of survey respondents (84 per cent) said senior leaders and managers are primarily responsible for employee engagement.

When asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, respondents recommended:
•listening to employees’ opinions (71 per cent)
•communicating clear expectations (68 per cent)
•giving recognition and praise (58 per cent)
•providing learning and development opportunities (57 per cent)
•helping find solutions to problems (39 per cent)
•defending direct reports (15 per cent)

There are differences in levels of engagement between work environments. Those working in government (80.3 per cent) and business (74.4 per cent) sectors are more likely to identify engagement as a problem than are people in education (64.2 per cent) and not-for-profit (54.2 per cent) organizations, found the survey.

There are significant benefits to be gained from training that focuses on engagement. In organizations that provide engagement training, the percentage of engaged employees rises by more than 10 per cent and the proportion that see engagement as a problem drops by 20 per cent, found the survey.

The benefits of engaged employees are found in a number of organizational measures. HR professionals report that some of the most common results are a willingness to do more than expected (39 per cent), higher productivity (27 per cent), better working relationships (13 per cent) and more satisfied customers (10 per cent).

Disengaged employees also affect the output of their organizations. Survey respondents indicate that the most common results of disengagement are dysfunctional work relationships (29 per cent), lower productivity (25 per cent) and an unwillingness to go beyond the job description (17 per cent).

Disengaged employees do not quit in droves or fail to show up for work, found the survey. Turnover (8 per cent) and absences (7 per cent) are among the lower rated results of disengagement.

“This research clearly shows that engagement, or the lack thereof, affects both the people and the finances of organizations,” said Shawn Bakker, psychologist at Psychometrics Canada.

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