Employee engagement evolution is ‘the real challenge ahead’

Evolving employee engagement is 'the real challenge'

May 22, 2014

Employee engagement is now firmly on the business agenda but the fresh challenge is continually evolving to meet expectations, according to leading experts.

Think-tank Engage for Success has pulled together The Future of Engagement: Thought Piece Collection, a report containing recommendations from leading lights in HR practice, consultancy and research.

The experts, who formed a Special Interest Group to consider the issue, look into employee engagement and how to drive it forward.

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The 87-page document provides an in-depth analysis of the practice, including the importance of employee engagement, its development and continual challenges.

Here are some of the findings in the report:

Michael Silverman, Managing Director of Silverman Research
“The field of employee research is shifting from giving feedback behind closed doors to providing feedback in an open forum.

“Developments in social and digital technologies are at the forefront of this … Capturing people’s interactions through social technology and applying the latest text analytics offers a new and rich source of insight.”


David Smith, Chair, Institute for Employment
“Many commentators are saying that increasing employee engagement is easy. This, in my view, is complete rubbish.

“Certainly the concepts are relatively simple. Most effective change agendas need to be simple and clearly understood. The thing people miss is the fact that embedding change is hard and takes considerable time.”


Gary Catermole, Co-Founder and Director, The Survey Initiative
“So what is the future for employee surveys? In a nutshell, if organisations really want an engaged workforce that delivers major commercial benefits, the traditional employee survey will have a strong future.

“Flexible, adaptable and manageable, it is a key tool for assessing what blocks and drives engagement – and for demonstrating the impact of employees’ attitudes on business outcomes (Saari & Judge, 2004), such as greater profitability, better management, lower employee turnover and improved absence rates.”


Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
“It has become even clearer that engagement is not, as is often implied, something that managers or organisations ‘do’ to their people; rather, it is a mental, emotional and physical state and something that employees give.

“We also need to put our money where our mouth is in giving employees a voice; in having the courage to open up all the channels of communication and being more prepared to listen.”


John Purcell, Visiting Professor, Bath University School of Management
“The clear evidence is that where there is both active line manager action to promote voice and involvement, alongside effective top level consultative arrangements involving senior managers, with good connections between the two, the outcomes in terms of commitment and engagement are better than where there is only one of these forms of employee voice (Purcell and Geogiades, 2007).

Building these and making them work is the best future agenda for employee engagement.”


Rob B. Briner, Professor of Organisational Psychology at the School of Management, University of Bath
“Do we want to take employee engagement seriously or not? There are two contrasting approaches. The first is to closely examine definitions, check out the validity of measures, question whether it is new and different, carefully identify the quality of the available evidence and what it is capable of telling us, and to be accurate and explicit about what we know and do not know about the importance and role of employee engagement.”

“The second approach is to be relaxed about definitions, not get too involved in considering the validity of measures of employee engagement, claim it’s something new and different without really backing it up, ignore the fact that there is at the present time little good quality evidence, and over- and mis-claim the importance of employee engagement.”

Click here to read the full The Future of Engagement: Though Piece Collection report…