Verax International Ltd



How Engaging is Engagement?


For the past couple of decades organisations have spent a huge amount of time, effort and money on “engagement”. What has that achieved? Engagement has been defined as “Staff remaining connected, committed and enthusiastic about the organisation they work for”.


In a recent survey published in “The Times”, the following emerged: -


39% of employees are moderately engaged

25% are passive

19% are actively disengaged

17% are highly engaged



So, in any organisation there is a small group of people, actively connected, committed and enthusiastic: a slightly larger group that is actively working against the organisation and over half (39% + 25% = 64%) who are going through the motions.


So this is the result of all that investment.


The benefits of greater engagement are well understood. You get less absenteeism, fewer illnesses, staff enjoying longer and happier lives – and in NHS hospitals, lower mortality rates.


But one phenomenon we have seen in the NHS is that staff report being connected, committed and enthusiastic to their clinical discipline but not necessarily the hospital where they work. So engagement with the institution/employer is not necessarily directly related to the level of productivity or quality of outcome.


What makes for Engagement?


Again, according to “The Times”, for UK employees, the most important driver is the “effectiveness of their manager”.


In our research into organisational, team and individual effectiveness, we defined it as: -


Consistent achievement of pre-agreed goals

Mutually rewarding relationships with others

Effective management of change

Emotionally stable – copes well with pressure

After management effectiveness, the next most important drivers are:-


Career opportunities

The Organisation’s reputation



Work Processes


Staff want a sense of community, more openness, more creativity, more empowerment and an environment that gives people energy and a voice. Staff do not want hierarchy and formality. Quality of life was rated as more important than remuneration and other pay factors


What are the messages for leadership?


Articulate a clear vision – why the organisation exists and what it needs to achieve.

A narrative of the future

Clear values – what you and the organisation stand for

Clarity, supported by sound systems, processes

Respect for individuals



Leaders need to be against: -




buzz words

Hierarchy and formality

Toxicity, anywhere in the organisation.

In summary, it is not about doing things to “promote engagement”. It is about doing all the things you do in a way that enables people to commit to them.


Remember also that an engaged workforce does not guarantee organisational success in terms of an organisation achieving its business goals. Conversely a workforce that is not totally engaged does not mean the organisation won’t achieve its business goals.


Although there are some shared factors that drive engagement and business performance, there are some factors that are discrete drivers of business performance and others that are discrete drivers of engagement.

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