Ivana Radevska is an HR and benefits content expert at Shortlister. She speaks three languages and enjoys writing guides for HR professionals.
Pub: March 21 2022
Upd: November 11 2022
Enhancing employee engagement remains a top business priority for leaders around the world. Business executives recognize that a highly engaged workforce can increase productivity, improve retention, and reduce absenteeism.
While the need for improving engagement is there, the execution through various initiatives is often poorly targeted and wasteful.
To identify the factors that determine the success or failure of engagement initiatives, we must ask who is responsible for employee engagement.
Who Owns Employee Engagement?
Today, many businesses are adopting a flat organizational structure with few or no higher levels of management. On top of that, workloads are interdependent, and workplaces are becoming team-oriented environments. So, when engagement levels dip, it raises the question of accountability.
While many factors influence work engagement, company culture plays the most significant role. As engagement is directly tied to business performance, companies that create a strong work culture defined by meaningful work will thrive. When employees are emotionally connected to their work, they become great drivers of organizational success.
However, research shows that only 35% of U.S. employees are engaged. In addition, most companies poorly measure and track engagement metrics, relying only on annual engagement surveys to gauge an employee's commitment to their work.
The leading cause of the failure of engagement initiatives is that it is not owned by senior leaders, expected of line managers, or communicated with employees. More often than not, it is brushed aside and labeled as an "HR thing." Organizations must set in place processes, tools, and above all - the proper approach to implementing a successful strategy.
Who Is Responsible for Employee Engagement?
To determine who is responsible for employee engagement, we examine the four different roles in an organization and their contributions to improving engagement.
1. Senior Leaders
One of the most significant barriers to improving engagement is when the leaders of an organization do not take engagement seriously. Senior managers are much more likely to be optimistic about their employees' engagement, consequently not prioritizing engagement-centric initiatives. Middle and line managers deal with employee issues day-to-day, so they have a clearer perception of the engagement in an organization.
Senior-level management, including CEOs, have the most powerful influence on company culture and are, by extension, the biggest engagement advocates.
Senior leaders must:
- Support and prioritize engagement-centric initiatives
- Create a long-term vision for employee engagement strategies
- Identify barriers to engagement and provide tools and resources to overcome them
Managers are the point of contact between employees and leadership, meaning they are responsible for implementing engagement initiatives. As one statistic points out, the manager determines 70% of the variance in team engagement. Managers are accountable for setting goals and supporting employees to reach them. They should frequently exchange feedback with employees, recognize accomplishments, and relay any opinions and concerns of employees to HR and leadership.
- Have an open and honest line of communication with employees
- Identify highly engaged employees and strong team performances
- Help align any engagement initiative by providing input on employee needs
3. HR Teams
HR plays a vital role in enabling engagement by shaping the general policy and influencing the company culture. HR needs to set the systems and framework for gathering employee feedback, pick the right HR tools and software for monitoring and measuring engagement, and support managers and leaders in any engagement-related matters.
- Create evaluation processes and hold employees and managers accountable
- Provide the tools and resources to aid managers in boosting engagement levels
- Recruit employees that are the right cultural fit
Employees need to take ownership of their work and take responsibility for the immediate environment surrounding them. An organization can provide all the learning and development opportunities, perks, and benefits, yet individuals may not utilize them and stay disengaged from their work. Individuals must be responsible for their own engagement and find work that brings them purpose and meaning.
- Provide honest feedback about their progress and experiences
- Seek out personal and career development opportunities
- Advise managers on how to improve the employee experience
Is Engagement a Team Effort?
It is expected that engagement levels will fluctuate over a significant time. However, a culture of support and recognition creates a positive and highly engaged workforce that always overcomes these challenging periods.
Every individual and all departments have a shared responsibility for creating and nurturing engagement at the workplace. One person can’t be held accountable for engagement as each member has individual responsibilities.
It is a team effort, and everyone needs to do their part. When employees are motivated and engaged, everyone reaps the benefits.
Having a top-performing workforce is key to organizational success and growth in a fast-changing business climate. Hence, employee engagement is a crucial element of your workplace culture. The way to achieve consistently high levels of employee engagement is by making it a shared effort and acknowledging the part everyone has in maintaining it.
Photo Credit - 8photo