HR managers have been issued with a call to arms to improve employee engagement as most workers feel more inspired by their colleagues than their bosses.
According to a Western European study on employee engagement, entitled “Oracle Simply Talent”, 57 per cent of employees said they would prefer more proactive, regular interactions with their managers. However, only a quarter said this is currently offered at their place of work.
Bosses, Oracle said, are missing out through their failure to do so as 56 per cent of employees said increased engagement made them more productive.
The survey, which included over 1,500 employees at large European businesses, discovered that 42 per cent of workers believed their peers had the most positive impact on how engaged they felt at work, well ahead of line managers (21 per cent) and business unit managers (three per cent).
Perhaps worryingly, only three per cent said HR had the biggest positive impact on their levels of engagement.
When it came to negatively affecting employee engagement, workers in European businesses believed the senior leadership team (19 per cent) and line managers (11 per cent) are the most responsible.
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Loic Le Guisquet, president for EMEA regions at Oracle, said: “These findings should be of concern to HR teams as they indicate that HR does not ‘own’ engagement in the eyes of employees. If this is the case, then what hope is there that HR can have a positive impact on the working environment and company culture 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.”
According to Oracle’s study, only around a third of Western European employees said they felt engaged most of the time. However, employees believed it was important for their organisations to get engagement right, citing increased productivity, a reduced likelihood of them looking for work elsewhere and an increased ability to provide creative ideas to their company on what to improve as the main business benefits of them feeling engaged.
Oracle said the benefits of engagement are also seen to extend to improved customer service, with 30 per cent of employees suggesting they were more inclined to deliver better customer service if they felt engaged. Oracle claimed that organisations that get employee engagement right stand to gain a great deal in terms of improved business performance.
Oracle’s study also revealed employees’ thoughts on how HR teams and the wider business could make them feel more engaged at work. According to employees, recognising their achievements should be the biggest priority for management, followed by helping employees understand their contribution to the company and giving them the opportunity to work on exciting projects.
Worryingly however, around a third of employees across Western Europe stated that their company did not recognise individual employee excellence at all, suggesting that a gap exists between what employees and managers believe constitutes good management.
Some 57 per cent of employees said they wanted management to take a more proactive management style, with 56 per cent declaring they would like a more personalised and tailored approach to management that treated them as an individual.
Millennials in particular wanted more regular discussions with their line managers about their career path.
Le Guisquet added: “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 organisations. Employees feel engaged by their peers and HR can help encourage this by providing access to sharing and collaboration platforms and social tools. But employee expectations are also changing fast, particularly those of millennials. They want recognition and feedback and they want it consistently.