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ATD Blog

Employee Engagement Imports


Wed Dec 05 2012


How do we in North America stack up against the work done in the UK on employee engagement? To be effective in our training and development efforts in the workplace we need not only senior leadership buy in we need senior leadership engagement. The report, discussed below, although specific to the UK, may be a powerful source of influence to ensure our organizations are doing all they can to lead with engagement.

The UK has been leading the world with a robust focus on employee engagement.  The Prime Minister voiced his support and commissioned a task force to improve the UK employee engagement work. A study on Engage for Success was published two years ago. On November 12 of this year a report entitled: The Evidence was released. The Evidence was prepared by Bruce Rayton, Tanith Dodge, and Gillian D’Analeze in conjunction with the Employee Engagement Task Force “Nailing the evidence” workgroup.


Twenty-two leaders from various organizations from across the UK declared their support to this work with an open letter to The Times that the report demonstrated “that organisations with high engagement levels outperform their low engagement counterparts in both private industry and in public service. Engaged organisations also report lower staff absence, lower turnover, fewer accidents and are linked to increased employee wellbeing.”

The report was primarily written for chief executives and chief financial officers as well as investors. The business case from the UK is made for income growth, productivity and performance, engagement and customer/client satisfaction, innovation, absence and wellbeing, retention, health and safety. For engagement to be supported and sustained by senior executives within organizations they must fully understand why it is so imperative for organizational success.

There are far too many numbers from the report to cite in this post but here are a few nuggets:

  • Survey after survey indicates that only around one third of UK workers say they are engaged

  • Organizations with engagement levels of 65% or greater outperformed the total stock market index and posted total shareholder returns that were 22% higher than average

  • Engaged employees take an average of 2.69 days sick a year; the disengaged take 6.19

  • The Olympic Delivery authority by June 2011 had an Accident Frequency Rate of 0.17 per 100,000 hours worked, which was less than half the construction industry average, and attributed this to strategies known to improve employee engagement.

  • Rentokil Initial found that teams that improved engagement the most saw retention increase by 6.7 percentage points, providing an estimated savings of 7 million pounds.

Almost every page of the twenty-six-page report is laced with facts and studies that demonstrate why it is so imperative that we increase employee engagement. The numbers become numbing until you think behind then like David Fairhurst of McDonald’s Restaurants Limited who was mentioned on page 6 of the report. “…imagine the likely managerial response to learning that only 20% of the organisation’s computers worked properly, that 60% were unreliable and that 20% either did nothing at all  or spent their entire time infecting other systems with viruses.”

It is time to travel across the Atlantic and see what the UK as a country is doing to improve employee engagement. To read more about the report or to see the full report, click here.


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