Signature Leadership Breakfast – Oct 2023

Our recent Signature Business Breakfast Event highlighted the importance of Employee Engagement in the modern workplace. Guest speaker Shaun from Crisp Professional Development shared insights on the complexities of employee engagement and disengagement, and the crucial role of team connectivity.

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the strength of any organisation is intrinsically linked to the engagement and commitment of its employees. Their passion and determination are the driving forces behind innovation and progress. Thus, understanding, and nurturing employee engagement is paramount for both team members and leaders alike.

Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting one of our Signature Business Breakfast Events that brought to light the significance of employee engagement in the modern workplace. Our guest speaker, Shaun from Crisp Professional Development, imparted his wisdom on the intricacies of employee engagement, disengagement, and the crucial role of connection in a team’s success.

From discussing the 19% of employees who may feel disengaged at work, to delving into the importance of a connected and cohesive team, the event was a through provoking session.

In this blog, we aim to share some of the key takeaways from the event, exploring deeper into the essence of employee engagement and how it can transform your team and organisation. Whether you’re a seasoned leader or stepping into a managerial role for the first time, these insights may empower you to harness the power of engagement and drive positive change within your team.

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Understanding Employee Engagement

Shaun kicked off the event by defining employee engagement as the emotional commitment an employee has towards their work and organisation. There were varying personal interpretations of engagement amongst attendees, from being passionate about one’s job to simply being present and committed. We agreed that employee engagement is more than just job satisfaction; it is the emotional commitment an employee has towards their organisation and its goals. This emotional investment can manifest in various forms, ranging from a deep passion for one’s role to a steadfast commitment to the organisation’s objectives.

From the CIPD’s perspective, Employee engagement is a state of mind characterized by energy, effort, resilience, enthusiasm, dedication, and absorption. It’s not always about extroverted behaviours but can manifest in quiet dedication and focus on tasks.

Recognising Disengagement

In the realm of employee engagement, there are several pivotal factors that can significantly influence an individual’s connection with their workplace. Broken trust is one such critical element. Trust forms the bedrock of any relationship, professional or otherwise, and once it is compromised, the path to rebuilding it is steep, requiring a substantial investment of time, effort, and goodwill from all involved parties.

Similarly, the availability of opportunities for growth and learning plays a fundamental role in maintaining employee engagement. Individuals may find themselves disenchanted and disengaged when they perceive a lack of developmental prospects in their current roles, feeling stagnant and unchallenged in their professional journey. Disengagement can manifest in various ways, such as resistance to change, passivity, or a general sense of disconnect.

It was suggested that Leaders must be vigilant in recognising the signs of disengagement and take proactive steps to address them. This involves open communication, promoting a culture of learning, and understanding what “connection” means in the workplace, especially in hybrid or remote working setups.

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The Importance of Engagement

Engaged employees are more likely to stay committed to their organisation and go the extra mile to contribute to its success. Engaged employees contribute positively to team dynamics and are more productive. We delved into how engagement involves interaction, communication, and sharing for the greater good of the team. We learned that by fostering a culture of engagement, you are ensuring their long-term commitment to the organisation through the concept of connection.

Considering the insights gained from a recent Gallup survey. This survey revealed that, amongst large companies in the UK and Western Europe, both private and public sectors, 60% of employees were disengaged, with 19% being actively disengaged. This brings up an intriguing question that was also raised during our discussion: Is disengagement the complete opposite of engagement? According to Gallup, active disengagement does indeed serve as the antithesis of engagement. Linking to this is psychological safety which has a direct correlation with workplace safety; the absence of the former can lead to a significant drop in the latter. Actively disengaged employees often result in a higher incidence of workplace accidents, as their lack of interest translates into passivity, and they may overlook potential hazards. This not only impacts the overall performance of the team but also extends its effects into their personal lives, causing increased stress.

On the flip side, an engaged workforce is marked by lower absenteeism, reduced staff turnover, and a surge in creativity. Engaged employees foster better relationships at work, which in turn generates more innovative ideas. The Gallup survey suggests that a mere 40% of employees are engaged. It raises the pertinent question of whether this 40% is sufficient. Has this always been the norm? Have we consistently depended on our star performers and those we deem trustworthy and reliable? Have teams historically operated at just 40% of their potential, pulling the remainder along? Imagine the transformative impact of increasing that engagement to 45% or even 50%. The difference could be substantial.

Interestingly however, disengaged staff tend to stick around. They may not be content, but they also don’t actively seek change. This could be due to a variety of reasons, such as the effort required to find a new job or a lack of clarity in articulating their issues. It’s worth noting that this stickiness of disengaged employees doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of the individuals choosing to leave. Often, it’s the higher performers who opt to leave, as they have better prospects elsewhere. In contrast, those who are not progressing in their careers may struggle to present themselves effectively in a job application or interview, leading them to stay put despite their dissatisfaction.

The critical takeaway here is the need to address and understand the factors leading to disengagement, as their ramifications are far-reaching, affecting not just the workplace but also the personal lives of the individuals involved.

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4 Practical Strategies for Enhancing Engagement

1) Celebrate Success

Celebrating success plays a crucial role in boosting employee engagement. When teams and individuals are recognised for their achievements, it not only fosters a sense of accomplishment but also conveys that their efforts are valued and appreciated. This recognition can take various forms, from verbal praise and written acknowledgements to awards and celebrations. Celebrating success builds a positive workplace culture, where team members are motivated to strive for excellence, knowing that their hard work will be recognised.

It can encourage collaboration, as team members can feel more connected and are more likely to support each other’s efforts. Additionally, acknowledging and celebrating key milestones, such as work anniversaries or significant achievements, adds a personal touch, making employees feel valued on an individual level. This holistic approach to celebrating success can significantly contribute to a positive and engaging work environment, ultimately driving productivity and fostering a sense of unity and pride among team members.

2) Have Regular Check-ins

Regular check-ins and feedback are essential for maintaining engagement. In this process, the responsibility for engagement lies with everyone – both leaders and team members. As leaders, we must acknowledge that we cannot change others; we can only change how we interact with our colleagues and the world. Shaun discussed a time when recently it was highlighted to him when someone said, “You be you, and I’ll be me.” But what about the space where we intersect? Who is responsible for that? The answer is, we both are. Just like any relationship, both parties have a role to play in maintaining and enhancing the connection.

This concept also ties into the broader topic of leadership mindset. These check-ins provide an opportunity for leaders to connect with their team, understand their challenges, and offer support. Feedback should be constructive, timely, and specific, helping employees understand how they can improve and grow. Encourage team members to reflect on their own engagement levels.

Using a scale from 1 (actively disengaged) to 10 (actively engaged), where do they see themselves? This can provide valuable insights into individual and collective team feelings. Creating regular touchpoints with team members can foster a stronger bond and sense of belonging. This doesn’t necessarily mean a formal meeting; it can be a casual check-in to see how they are or to acknowledge their efforts.

However, with remote working becoming more prevalent, initiating these check-ins can feel intrusive. It’s important to navigate this balance delicately and ensure team members know the intent is supportive, not invasive.

3) Delegate and Empower

Daniel Pink in his book “Drive”, he refers to as “Motivation 3.0”. This framework is based on three key components: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Autonomy refers to the need for individuals to have control over their work and life and is highlighted as a driver for creativity and innovation in the workplace. Mastery is the desire to continuously improve and develop one’s skills. Purpose is the understanding and investment in the “bigger picture” of one’s work, which can lead to increased engagement and productivity.

His book suggests that modern workplaces, where routine tasks are often outsourced, require a shift from traditional “carrot and stick” motivational strategies to a focus on intrinsic motivation, which includes these three key components. Through providing employees with autonomy and opportunities for mastery you can significantly enhance engagement. Offer questions such as “how do you feel when tasks are delegated to you? Most people do not like to be micromanaged, so what freedom can you give them to make their own decisions that will drive accountability. Autonomy can bring significant value to an organisation, but it’s essential to understand what that value is and how it contributes to the overall success of the company.

4) Reflect on the Positives

One approach for leaders and managers to consider is adopting a strengths-based approach. This can involve reflecting on what you did well each day and asking others the same. Questions such as “When did you feel energized today?” or “When did you perform at your best today?” can be posed to team members. This strategy can help sustain the 40% of engaged employees and prevent them from becoming passive. Additionally, it can encourage those who are in the middle ground to become more actively engaged.

A simple way of instigating this is with the “three good things in life” technique. It involves writing down three positive things that happened to you at the end of each day. These could be small moments like enjoying a delicious lunch, attending a breakfast seminar, or completing a project. The goal is to counteract our natural tendency to focus on the negative by actively seeking out the positive. Over time, this can have a significant impact. For example, at the end of a week, you would have recorded 21 positive events. By the end of a month, you could have up to 90. This practice helps to train our brains to look for the good in our lives and can be instrumental in overcoming negativity.

Encouraging team members to reflect on their daily achievements can help shift their focus from negatives to positives. The “three good things in life” technique is related to the idea that there’s a 3 to 1 ratio required to overcome the negativity bias: three positive events or thoughts to counteract one negative event or thought. This ratio suggests that by focusing on positive aspects and accomplishments, individuals can shift their perspective and counterbalance inherent negative biases.

Employee engagement is a vital component of success. By actively prioritising and consistently enhancing employee engagement, managers can build a stronger, more cohesive team that is not only committed to the organisation’s success but also contributes positively to its growth and profitability. 

Thank you to all who attended our event and gave valuable insights, we look forward to seeing you at the next one!

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