Driving Greater Levels of Employee Engagement in 2023

6 mins

As we start 2023, many HR professionals within organisations will be acutely aware of the ch...

As we start 2023, many HR professionals within organisations will be acutely aware of the challenges that accompany trying to improve levels of employee engagement amongst increasingly diverse workforces with multiple individual needs and requirements. 


The backdrop of the pandemic years has given employees a greater platform from which to voice their individual needs – these are likely to be linked to their own personal value system on how, where and when they prefer to work. 


Undoubtedly this presents the employer with some very real challenges in terms of how to create environments and policies that include rather than deny these varying needs. 


However employee engagement is not necessarily the same as individual job satisfaction. A Deloitte paper* defined employee engagement as the emotional commitment an employee has to their organisation, its employees, vision and goals.


This may go some way to helping organisations think about ways in which they can tackle this complex area. It is entirely possible that employees can have high levels of job satisfaction with very little engagement with the organisation they work for. And we can think of many individuals who have high levels of engagement with their organisation’s purpose and mission, but low levels of job satisfaction in their current role. This might present some interesting insights into the contemporary alleged phenomena of #quietquitting and the #greatresignation. 


Organisations who recognise the challenging economic times we live in, know that they need to engage high levels of commitment to meet their current and future workforce needs. 


Research by McKinsey** identified a number of key factors critical to employee engagement. They grouped them into the following categories:-


·      Stable and secure work experience

·      Trusting relationships 

·      Social cohesion and inclusion

·      Individual purpose and contribution


To this, we would also add ‘Bringing my best self to work’. This implies the capacity to have the working conditions in which to thrive. The pandemic has revolutionised our working conditions, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. People’s experience of the huge changes which COVID-19 has brought has been varied and highly individual.


We have some top tips on how to tackle each of the areas outlined above in practical terms within your organisation: 


Top tip number 1 

Provide a sense of clarity on what employees can control within their work environment 

We know that people want a stable and secure work environment. Uncertainty or a lack of control, contributes to a level of anxiety which can stifle performance, productivity and creativity. 


By working out which aspects of their environment you are able to allow employees to control, for example, whether they work in the office or at home; or can choose their hybrid pattern, can make a huge difference to their levels of engagement. In addition, it is essential to create an environment where managers and their teams are able to have open dialogues about their working patterns. By being able to voice their challenges, they will feel reassured about what they can and cannot control. 


Top tip number 2

Build a work culture that values inclusion, flexibility and cross-functional collaboration 

The pandemic years enabled greater channels of communication, compassion and flexibility. We can continue to leverage this at work to benefit engagement by encouraging more cross-functional collaboration. This enables employees to connect more effectively with the broader business rather than just their own part of it. We would recommend not only encouraging cross functional collaboration but creating a culture which values people reaching out to others in the organisation, whether that be for informal conversations about other areas of work or to seek mutual collaboration on a current or future work project. 


Top tip number 3

Ask them how they feel! 

Building on this, environments should be created where managers feel they have the skills and resources to ask their teams how they feel about their current work, their career as a whole and the organisation. Training managers in how to have impactful career conversations with their teams will benefit everyone across the organisation, including the managers themselves who should also be benefitting from a career conversation with their own line manager!  


Top tip number 4 

Fostering trusted relationships 

Charles Green developed an assessment tool of trust***, which described four attributes: high credibility, reliability, intimacy and low self-orientation. Employers can develop those attributes in managers who in turn can foster them in their own teams. In our own research at CCS, when employees were asked what contributed most to their own career development, the answer was “a manager who supports me whilst challenging me out of my comfort zone”. 


Building trusted relationships encourages positivity and encouragement. See Amy Edmondson, Psychological Safety*****. This will have business benefits on engagement as people will feel they are able to contribute without their ideas being ignored, stolen or put down. 


Top tip number 5 

Link individual purpose with the organisation or function’s key mission 

Research by Mckinsey** indicates that people who say they are ‘living with purpose’ at work are much more likely than those not doing so to sustain improved levels of work effectiveness. Many of our clients at CCS cite a lack of purpose as a key reason they are looking for a career change. Increasing specialisation can lead people to becoming siloed, as they develop more and more knowledge about a very small part of the business, losing touch with how it connects to the whole. 


Our top tip is to ensure that purpose becomes a key part of communication within the business, linking the organisation’s ‘why’ to individual contribution. 


Top tip number 6 

Enable your employees to bring their best selves to work 

Our final tip is the more challenging area. We see many clients who talk about the difficulty of being “at their best” at work. When we ask them for examples of when they have thrived, the themes are usually as follows:


·      Collaboration 

·      Autonomy 

·      Challenge

·      Having stimulating and supportive colleagues 


Our tip is again to ensure that you are having conversations which do take account of individual need, and to create environments which encourage individuals to take ownership of carving out the conditions most likely to enable them to thrive. They will have the answers but are likely to need encouragement and support to ask for these conditions to be met. Training Managers to ask without judgement and with empathy will make all the difference. 

Career Counselling Services are Career Coaches, Career Consultants and Trainers who specialise in delivering career management services to organisations. Solutions can include the benchmarking of your existing career development strategy through to upskilling your Managers in how to have better career conversations. To find out more, please email kate@career-counselling-services.co.uk to set up a Discovery call.   





***The Trust Scale, Charles Green: