Induction & Onboarding
2 minute read

Employee engagement: this one thing trumps everything

employee engage

The scale of disengagement at work is massive: globally, 85% of employees are disengaged or under-engaged.[1] But the most effective remedy has nothing to do with individual team members. Instead, Gallup research shows that engagement rates are overwhelmingly about how good your managers are – and that the vast majority of companies are failing to support the development of effective managers.

The scale of the problem

The effect of disengagement on productivity is so obvious it hardly needs to be stated. But to put some numbers to this: businesses that score above the median on employee and customer engagement are on average three and a half times more financially successful than those who rank in the bottom half of these measures. Imagine the difference that higher engagement could make to your business.[2]

One clear solution

It’s repeatedly been shown that the single most important factor in building engagement is the quality of the manager. An enormous 70% of the difference in team engagement can be pinned directly to the manager.[3] In short, the quality of people management is the difference between profitability and success, or loss and failure.

Sadly though, the evidence shows that the majority of businesses aren’t investing in their managers – or at least, not in ways that are effective.

Despite billions spent annually on management development, only one in three managers agrees that they have opportunities to grow and learn at work. And even fewer, agree that they have someone at work who encourages their development.[4]

Is it time to rethink your management training?

If you’re in the minority of companies whose engagement is high, and whose management all feel supported and that they have access to the right kind of development and training opportunities, then congratulations!

If, on the other hand, you think there’s room to improve your management training, the numbers show very clearly the massive effect on engagement – and through that productivity. The impact of effective management training means the return on that investment is multiplied many times over.

However well engaged your people are, the key take away is that further improvements come from targeting resource on developing new and existing team managers. Do you have well defined learning pathways for those becoming a manager for the first time? Are their follow-on pathways to encourage managers to develop coaching skills? Is your business moving to a collaborative culture that facilitates a coaching mentality versus the traditional ‘command and control’ approach that seldom works in today’s workplace?


[1] Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, It’s the Manager, New York: Gallup Press, p. 109

[2] Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, It’s the Manager, New York: Gallup Press, p. 185

[3] Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, It’s the Manager, New York: Gallup Press, p. 105

[4] Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, It’s the Manager, New York: Gallup Press, p. 120