My Take: The Secret of Creating Greater Employee Engagement

September 27th, 2019

In this job market, where a new position is waiting for your best (and even mediocre) employees around every corner, retention is the Holy Grail. Hiring is difficult enough, but keeping your good people happy on the job? It can be a mysterious quest for HR. Two articles in the news lately got us thinking about that.

Inc. published its list of best places to work, with 346 companies standing ahead of the pack. They asked 139,251 employees from 2,000 companies around the country to rate their workplaces. Omaha’s Quantum Workplace conducted the survey, which included topics like trust, management effectiveness, perks, and confidence in the future. Inc. gathered, analyzed, and audited the data. Reading what employees in these companies, which ranged from giants to micro-companies with fewer than 25 employees, loved about their workplaces is a crash course in keeping people happy, but one interesting finding stood out to us.

  • This year, 74.2% of employees surveyed said they’re engaged by their work, which is up from last year’s 72.1%.

That’s an astonishingly high number, considering what was reported in HBR that same week in an article titled The Power of Hidden Teams by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Buckingham recently led the ADP Research Institute in an extensive and methodically consistent global study of engagement. Working adults in 19 countries, 1,000 in each country, were asked questions about their engagement at work.

  • The results? Only 16% of employees say they’re engaged and the rest are “just going to work.”

That’s quite the point spread. Only 16% pf employees worldwide are engaged at work, but at the companies on the Inc. list, the vast majority are. Obviously, they’re doing something right. And Buckingham and Goodall may have hit on the secret of what it is: teams.

The article states: “To find the most effective levers for creating engagement, we set about analyzing a number of variables for their power to explain why a particular employee might be fully engaged. And as it turned out, the most powerful factor was simply whether respondents reported doing most of their work on a team. Those who did were more than twice as likely to be fully engaged as those who said they did most of their work alone. The local, ground-level experience of work — the people they worked with and their interactions with them — trumped everything else.”

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