The importance of effective employee engagement to help drive your company forth.

By Tracey Fox

Edited by Andrew Fiddy, Skills Project Coordinator, CEDR

Following a study of more than 3,100 employers worldwide HR consultancy, Aon Hewitt, showed that employee engagement trends improved, increasing from 56 per cent in 2010 to 58 per cent in 2011.  The study revealed that while some indicators of engagement had greatly increased others had declined, resulting in the overall rise of two percent looking less impressive.

A main concern was the number of staff who felt that their employer communicated with them effectively decreased by four percentage points from 46 per cent in 2010 to 42 per cent in 2011.  Echoing this, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) employee’s outlook survey found a significant ‘reality gap’ between what managers believe they do to foster employee engagement and the views of their staff.  The research found that 61 percent of managers state that they meet their staff several times a month to discuss objectives and personal development, while just 24 percent of employees believe this to be the case.  Likewise 90 percent of managers believe they coach their staff when they meet, though just 40 percent of employees think the same.

The significant variance of these figures in both sets of research indicates the overall importance of employee engagement and ensuring effective communication methods between staff members and managers.  Organisations that focus on streamlining their communication strategies and improving the `people skills’ of management can positively impact workplace morale, staff engagement and arguably, most importantly. productivity.  If an organisational culture is created that values dialogue, the risks associated with conflict are greatly minimised, therefore averting potential costs somewhere down the line.  With an estimated eight million managers in the UK, it is essential that the people in the upper echelons of our organisations are equipped with the necessary skills to lead, communicate and therefore manage the workforce effectively.

The value of communication skills for managers is undisputable to achieve harmony in the workplace.  In CEDR’s experience, through working with for-profit and not-for-profit organisations both domestically and internationally, disputes through miscommunication is common. It is how one handles such conflict that it is important and this is something that can be taught.  Management structures should be armed with toolkits to nip any potential conflict in the bud before it reaches full fruition. Such toolkits should be comprised of communication skills, emotional abilities, process and negotiation skills, all of which can be taught with relevance to specific circumstances and contexts to enable effective management throughout all channels of an organisation.

As the UK struggles to emerge out of the economic downturn, organisations that focus on employee engagement and the people skills of their management teams may be at a distinct advantage to those who fail to acknowledge the need for better employee engagement at a time when workers at every level are feeling the strain.

Visit CEDR for more information on  conflict management skills courses for organizations or  conflict coaching.

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by Tracey Fox

A Psychologist by training, Tracey worked in various clinical and neurological rehabilitation positions before combing her genuine interest in people with that of organisational behaviour. Tracey joined CEDR in 2002 and is a Consultant within the Skills team. Since becoming a CEDR Accredited Mediator in 2003 she has mediated and assisted with disputes from a ranging commercial contracts, employment, construction, academic, telecommunications and tenancy.