It goes without saying that creating a happier and more productive workforce is essential for higher profitability, reduced turnover and increased customer satisfaction. But what do you need to do as an employer to ensure your employees are engaged? It’s simpler than you think – but it’s also easy to get it wrong! Read on for our top tips.

Employees who have good quality jobs and are managed well will not only be happier, healthier and more fulfilled, but are also more likely to drive productivity, better products or services, creativity and innovation. This mutual gains view of motivation and people management lies at the heart of employee engagement, seeking the best for both the employee and the organisation.

In 2018, the CIPD carried out a survey of employees about job quality, UK Working Lives, which showed that about two-thirds of workers are satisfied with their jobs overall (18% ‘very satisfied’ and 46% ‘satisfied’), while just 18% were dissatisfied. Drawing on their previous survey work, the CIPD demonstrated that UK job satisfaction has fluctuated over the previous decade, dropping in particular in 2010 and 2011 to a low of just over half, but the broadly positive picture remained stable. The same proportion as those who are dissatisfied (about one fifth) say that they are likely to quit their job in the next year.

A sustained focus on employee engagement over the last decade or so has been instrumental in keeping progressive people management practices firmly on organisations’ agendas. Fostering employee engagement and motivation requires working with all areas of the organisation. People strategies should pay attention to:

  • fair treatment of employees and support for well-being
  • empowering employees to shape their jobs
  • effective channels for employee voice
  • good people management skills
  • performance management systems that motivate and opportunities for professional development
  • communications to reinforce purpose and vision and keep employees informed.

The MacLeod Review summed up the four key ingredients of a happier, more motivated and more productive workforce as:

  • Leadership that gives a ‘strong strategic narrative about the organisation, where it’s come from and where it’s going’
  • Line managers who motivate, empower and support their employees
  • Employee voice throughout the organisation, to challenge or reinforce the status quo and involve employees in decision making
  • Organisational integrity: stated values are embedded into organisational culture – what we say is what we do. This closely relates to the sense of fairness and trust in the organisation and the psychological contract, which depends on employers delivering on their commitments and fulfilling employees’ expectations

If you get the people bit right, you are likely to have motivated, productive staff and a more successful business, but engagement can’t be imposed from above – it’s about creating a cultural shift in the way you behave as an organisation.

So, how do you do this?


It’s up to you to set a vision for the organisation that is meaningful to your employees. Employees need to see you demonstrating and modelling the characteristics and behaviours they are expected to display whist in the workplace. You are responsible for setting the tone and culture of your company – employees will follow your lead.


Your employees know what works and what doesn’t, and you can use that knowledge to drive innovation and better decision making. Let your employees know that you are available and open to their suggestions and ideas. Ask your employees what would make them feel more engaged and what they would value. You could be surprised at how simple the solution might be. Consult with your employees – mutual respect, trust and flexibility go a long way.


For organisations to thrive in the future they need managers who can relate to their staff. Are your managers able to actively listen, motivate and empower their teams? And are they equipped and confident in the skills needed to effectively manage staff and get the best out of them? Are your managers trained to listen and respond to your employees in a fair and transparent way? If you don’t feel this is the case, invest in some leadership and development training.


If your employees don’t fundamentally trust you, your employee engagement programmes are bound to fail. Your employees need to see you demonstrate honesty and integrity – senior leaders of the organisation need to be seen as transparent and trustworthy. Discuss things with your employees, ask them for their feedback and involve them in decision making whenever possible.


The way that we work, and the way people want to work, is changing – being flexible about your employees’ working hours or where they work (see our post on flexible working) can go a long way. Your employees are human beings with lives outside of the workplace – if you recognise this and are flexible, your employees will be happier and more engaged, and feel that you value them.

Your people are key. Get it wrong and you may be faced with low morale, poor levels of motivation and higher levels of absence. And you will often be lacking that creative spark – particularly when it comes to interacting with your customers.

If you need support with any of the issues touched on in this post, contact us!


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