In 2012 a report found that 39% of the workforce ‘strategically manage their disengagement’ and 26% were ‘highly disengaged’.

I would translate ‘highly disengaged’ as: not caring, only there for the pay cheque, waiting for the weekend. I don’t think I was ever in that position but ‘strategically managing their disengagement’ yes I’ve been there and it doesn’t feel good.

As Nita Clarke said in her presentation ‘the cost of disengagement is not just a financial one but a human one.’ Why? Because ‘how we are at work is a huge determinant about how we feel about ourselves.’

It was no surprise to also hear that the ‘biggest cause of ill-health is between the individual and their line manager’. The organisation can espouse the most amazing values but if your line manager is ‘disempowering’ then chances are most people will leave.

How refreshing it was then to hear Admiral’s emphasis on working with line managers who they see as the lynchpin of engagement. They have a comprehensive development programme to ensure they well equipped for their role. Admirals principles around engagement are simple and to the point

‘People who like what they do, do it better!’

‘If you treat your staff well they’ll treat you’re customers well’

They also see communication as key to engagement. ‘If you don’t listen they will stop trusting.’

Leaders to also have a role. Listening to Greg Evans from Horizon Nuclear Power was a mini-masterclass. His daily routine before work is to remind himself of the following:

‘Someone needs me today– its my job to find out who’.

‘Effort needs to rewarded as much as outcomes’

‘Find someone to listen to today– I don’t know everything’

‘Find a different path to the same place’– so you meet different people

Also from Greg

‘You can’t change culture only effect the environment in which it grows’

‘If it’s about process email me, if it’s about inspiration text me’

So what is engagement about? ‘It’s about people stupid!’  It’s about having a positive work environment where you feel stretched, valued, and part of a team. It’s about being empowered, knowing the why behind the work and being able to contribute to the company.

‘If your computer only worked a third of the time that wouldn’t be acceptable’ but we let people’s talent, energy and creativity go to waste.

If this sounds like something you need to look at why not consider these 5 enablers:

  • Strategic Narrative
  • Engaging Managers
  • Employee Voice
  • Organisational integrity and
  • Wellbeing

The DWP gave a great case study of how they created a strategic narrative: visually through a picture of the future and also through ‘chapters’ which they cascaded  throughout the organisation.

These were my key takeaways from a recent Engage for Success conference. If I can help you with any staff engagement issues please do get in touch.