Who ‘owns’ employee engagement?

September 24, 2015

By  Vicki Arnstein,   24 September  2015

Staff turn to peers, not HR, to feel engaged at work, study reveals.

HR is failing to have a positive impact on employee engagement levels, with 30 per cent of UK staff opting to turn to peers for support at work instead, research by business software company Oracle has found.

According to the study, which polled around 1,500 employees of large Western European businesses, only three per cent of respondents said their company’s HR department had the biggest impact on their engagement levels.

Up to 42 per cent of employees across Europe, and just under a third (30 per cent) across the UK said their friends and colleagues at work had the biggest impact on how engaged they felt.

Loïc Le Guisquet, president for Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific regions at Oracle, said the findings were a warning that: “HR does not ‘own’ engagement in the eyes of employees.”

Despite just one third of Western European employees feeling engaged most of the time, 56 per cent believe engagement can increase productivity; 37 per cent said it would reduce the likelihood of them looking for work elsewhere, and 35 per cent it would increase their ability to provide creative ideas to their company.

A further 30 per cent said they would give better customer service if they felt engaged.

To help employees feel engaged, 53 per cent of respondents said recognising their achievements should be management’s focus, followed by helping them to understand their contribution to the company (35 per cent) and giving them the opportunity to work on exciting projects (34 per cent).

The research suggests a key area where businesses can improve employee engagement is through proactive management styles and better communication.

Only 29 per cent of those asked said their company was proactive at engaging with them, with 56 per cent stating that their line managers were average, poor or very poor at providing regular feedback.

Nearly four fifths (79 per cent) of millenials said they would like more discussions on their career path, while 57 per cent of employees said they would like managers to be more forthcoming with engagement ideas and efforts.

“From the perspective of employees there is a gap between what makes them engaged and the approach taken by management – a gap which provides HR with a great opportunity to take ownership of engagement within their organisation,” Le Guisquet said.

“This study should act as a call-to-arms for HR teams to demonstrate the value they bring to their business and its employees in a way that is clear for all to see.”

HR could capitalise on employees feeling engaged by their peers by providing access to sharing and collaboration platforms and social tools, he added.

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