Build staff loyalty and retention rates

Engagement levels down… but not necessarily out!

Employees are less engaged in their jobs and less satisfied as a result according to new research by executive consultancy Right Management. The survey of nearly 5500 Australian employees from 10 industry areas revealed that engagement levels have dropped from 36 per cent in 2009 to 34 per cent in 2012.

Right Management Regional General Manager Bridget Beattie says the drop in engagement levels means employers aren’t getting the most from their employers which could have serious implications on the bottom line.

“Employee engagement is directly linked to the performance and profitability of an organisation, but these results show that there is significant room for improvement. Unfortunately the majority of employers are missing the boat when it comes to engagement,” she said.

In addition to improved performance and profitability the research demonstrated that strong employee engagement result in higher customer service and satisfaction and higher employee attendance and retention rates.

Drivers for engagement

The drivers for engagement are the factors of working life which motivate employees to feel more strongly committed to their job. Ensuring your workplace has a good idea of these drivers and introducing policies which provide employees with these benefits will have positive impact on engagement. However, the drivers for engagement are not static and change according to economic conditions, company performance, the time of year, the nature of work etc. It is helpful to conduct regular reviews of the drivers for engagement in your work place to ensure the terms and conditions you offer employees are in line with what employees actually want.

According to Right Management the top 10 drivers for employee engagement in Australia are currently:

  1. I am committed to my organisation’s core values
  2. I feel confident that I can reach my long-term career goals in my organisation
  3. Our customers think highly of our products and services
  4. I am encouraged to take ownership of my work
  5. I believe my current job is aligned with my strengths
  6. My organisation allows me to maintain a reasonable balance between my family and work life
  7. Our work processes are generally well organised and efficient
  8. There is sufficient incentive for me to perform well at my organisation
  9. I work in a safe and healthy environment
  10. My organisation actively promotes health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing is a new addition to the top 10 list and indicates that employees are looking for a wider range of benefits than simply financial remuneration. The research also showed that with pay increases on the decline, the majority of employees don’t feel there are sufficient incentives for good performance nor do they feel confident about their career opportunities.

“Long term career goals are a major driver of higher engagement, but less than half of workers (44 per cent) believe this is being well managed. Employers need to look closely at how they are creating genuine career paths for their people, as well as equipping managers to have effective career conversations,” said Ms Beattie.

Ms Beattie said the top ten drivers provide a useful roadmap for organisations seeking to boost engagement levels but that they need to be tailored in order to ensure they are relevant to the workplace at hand.

“While drivers of engagement will vary for each organisation, it’s clear that Australians want to feel rewarded for their work, clear about their career direction and proud of their employer. Leaders and managers should look closely at these areas if they want to see ‘bang for buck’ in their efforts to boost engagement,” she said.


The research resulted in the emergence of six key recommendations which Right Management says should help companies to achieve and improve engagement levels. These are summarised below and for more information click here to read the full report.

1. Measure Engagement Levels
Understanding current levels of employee engagement is the first step to ensuring it is effectively managed. It is critical that surveys be tailored to your organisation, your strategy, your values and your language while at the same time ensuring they are reliable and valid measurement tools.

An organisation-wide survey also provides the opportunity to make a range of comparisons (such as by business unit, level, location, etc), which ensure solutions are targeted where they should be. In addition, the survey provides a baseline to track future progress with further full surveys or with shorter (and more frequent) ‘pulse’ surveys.

2. Determine Drivers of Engagement
No two organisations are the same, each is characterised by its own unique dynamics, structure and culture. The drivers of employee engagement therefore vary for different organisations.

Organisations should undertake research to identify their own specific engagement drivers and the barriers to engagement.

3. Link the Results to Business Outcomes
Engagement is more than a “nice-to-have”. Research consistently shows employee engagement
is a lead indicator of lag business metrics, such as customer loyalty, productivity, and profitability. Including engagement targets (along with retention and absenteeism) in business plans as the “people” measure provides a balanced approach.

4. Continue to Track Engagement Levels
Organisations continually evolve and change. Employee engagement reflects those changes, and provides a consistent measure of the impact of those changes and a way to track the success of strategies that have been implemented. Employee surveys should be conducted regularly to monitor engagement levels especially during times of transition.

5. Benchmark Competitor Practices
Benchmarking is a useful tool to understand how you measure up against others in the war for talent. It will help organisations better understand their Employee Value Proposition and in turn help you attract and retain the right talent.

Global, local and internal benchmarking can be conducted to help you compare results within the industry, internationally and internally to see which areas have higher/lower engagement levels.

6. Target your Investment and Effort Where it Will Have the Most Impact
Avoid a scattergun approach of trying to change too many things all at once. Good analysis will uncover two or three critical areas that you need to focus on if you examine the areas that drive engagement and are under-performing. Action planning and rigorous follow up deliver results.

1. Employee Engagement 2012 Benchmark Study by Right Management