Executives are getting the message about employee engagement, but why is employee engagement important to them? The DecisionWise second annual State of Employee Engagement survey showed a 13% increase in the percentage of executives who feel employee engagement is very important and a 35% increase among all managers. These findings are included in the section on Perceptions of Employee Engagement which is one part of the comprehensive survey from over 150 organizations around the world. Here, we look specifically at the perceptions of executives, managers, and HR leaders.
1. How Familiar Are HR Managers with Employee Engagement?
The first question of the study helped to determine if respondents had a good working understanding of employee engagement. 66% of the respondents worked in the Human Resources department and 78% held titles of manager or above.
Participants were asked: “How familiar are you with the term “employee engagement.” 61% responded “very familiar, 23% “familiar”, 15% “somewhat familiar,” with only 1% saying “not familiar.” However, familiarity appeared to decrease 4% from last year with a combined 84% responding “very familiar” or “familiar” in 2017 compared to 88% responding the same in 2016.
2. How important is Employee Engagement to Executives?
Respondents consisted mostly of human resource managers who evaluated the importance of employee engagement for their executive teams. Specifically, HR leaders were asked: “Based on both what they say and do, how important is employee engagement to the executive team of your organization?” In 2016, only 45% of respondents indicated that employee engagement was “very important” compared to 51% in 2017, a 13.3 % increase. Additional responses for 2017 included: 22% “important,” 20% “somewhat important,” 6% “not at all important,” and 2% “don’t know.” It appears that most of the increase in “very important” responses came from those who thought it was just “important” the year before where the responses decreased from 27% to 22%. This could mean that employee engagement increased in priority as a strategic initiative for 2017.
3. How Important is Employee Engagement to Managers?
When asked about the importance of employee engagement to managers in their organization, the results showed a 35% increase for those indicating “very important” (29% in 2016 compared to 39% in 2017). Additional responses for 2017 included: 27% “important,” 26% “somewhat important,” 5% “not at all important,” and 3% “don’t know.” Notice that the number of “very important” responses for managers is 39% compared to 51% for executives. This shows that managers are becoming more focused on employee engagement as executives place a higher priority on engagement.
4. What are the Benefits of Employee Engagement?
HR leaders were asked to rank a list of nine potential benefits of employee engagement. Specifically, they were asked: “In your opinion, in what ways does employee engagement benefit organizations in general?” The purpose of the question was to understand perceived benefits, as opposed to actual realized benefits which was asked later in the survey. The top three mentions were “increases employee performance,” “increases employee retention,” and “increases quality.” 2016 results were similar with “increases customer satisfaction” taking the third spot in the ranking.
These results confirm DecisionWise research which shows employee engagement drives performance and retention while employee satisfaction drives attracting new employees and retention (see video).
Employee Engagement Gains Traction
The 2017 research shows that 73% of executives and 66% of managers feel employee engagement is “very important” or “important.” Even though that only represents a change of 1% for executives and 2% for managers from 2016, the increase in “very important” responses alone shows great progress. Employee engagement continues to become more important as leaders realize its impact on company performance. As executives lead employee engagement initiatives in their company, managers will lend their support to create an engaged workforce.
About this Research
The DecisionWise 2017 State of Employee Engagement study provides a comprehensive look at employee engagement best practices. It includes findings on perceptions of employee engagement, effectiveness of various programs, measurement best practices, ROI of engagement initiatives, and what the most engaged companies are doing differently.