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Top 3 biggest factors that impact work engagement

Written 10 June, 2019, 4 minutes to read

When it comes to improving work engagement, there are no fixed rules. Since a ton of different variables affect it (like age, gender, location and industry), engagement is often hard to quantify and remains rather indefinite. But recently, a comprehensive survey on engagement has shone a new light on the issue. After surveying over 19,000 employees across the globe, the ADP Research Institute have revealed what might be the biggest factors that impact work engagement...

1. Being part of team

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One of the most shocking stats in the ADP Research Institute survey was that only 16% of employees are properly engaged! This doesn’t mean that 84% have totally checked out, are lazy, or are simply uninterested, but it does mean that there’s lots of space for improvement. While the findings varied greatly in different countries, one factor was repeatedly found to have a significant impact on work engagement: whether or not employees were part of a team.

Let’s look at some statistics from different countries: in the UAE, when an employee worked in a team, 29% of them stated they felt fully engaged; yet, for those that worked by themselves, the numbers fell sharply to 7%. In Holland, 11% of employees who worked in teams said they were engaged, compared to a paltry 2% who worked alone and were just going through the motions.

The positive teamwork effect stretched to industries, too. Within the transportation industry, solo employees reported shockingly low engagement rates: almost zero percent! It was the same for employees who worked in the information industry; workers who belonged to teams were almost four times more engaged than employees who worked alone.

While some of these stats may be startling, the idea that teamwork boosts work engagement shouldn’t come as a surprise. Feeling that you belong helps people feel connected, and knowing you have a support system is enormously impactful in enhancing the quality of your work experience. It also helps impart a sense of purpose and responsibility, drives productivity, and effects how long people stay at a company. In terms of overall impact, it’s almost impossible to downplay the importance of teamwork.

See how to build a better employee experience in your team

2. Proper planning

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Making a daily work plan may not seem like something that will have a major impact on work engagement, but studies suggests otherwise. Research published in The Journal of Applied Psychology showed that when utilized correctly, making a plan for the working day can significantly boost employee engagement. The study examined two types of planning – time management planning and contingency planning.

Time management planning involved drawing up an ordered list of tasks to complete, and the results were interesting: on days when employees met few distractions, the effects of time management planning had clear benefits; employees reported feeling more engaged and more productive. Yet, on days where employees were disrupted, this type of planning was totally ineffective.

On the flipside, contingency planning – which involved creating lists to deal with potential obstacles – was proved to enhance work engagement on days where there were distractions and interruptions, irrespective of how much disruption each employee experienced. This means that drawing up adaptable plans helps employees adjust without irritation, allowing them to stay motivated and productive – and most importantly, stay engaged.

Using these findings, companies should be able to maximize engagement by using both the time management and contingency plans interchangeably; this allows you to factor your working environment into your planning and organize your work in a way that’s both practical and attainable.

Start writing more robust daily plans with this method.

3. Honest, open communication

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Having an honest and open work environment is another essential component to engagement. Research suggests that transparency has a 94% correlation with employee happiness, which is a key ingredient of engagement. Honest, open communication should be encouraged at all times, and employees should feel able to voice any concerns or doubts they have without fear of retribution or judgement.

We already know that being part of a team is one of the biggest factors impacting work engagement, but teamwork requires commitment from everyone. A successful team is one that empowers and aids each other, and in order to do that, bosses and managers need to be engaged themselves. Think about how you would feel if you’d just started working at the company; are the outlooks, culture and processes fair? Is there a warm, open atmosphere?

To drive engagement, employees must feel like they’re part of something, so before creating new strategies, ask your team for their input and include them in company decisions – then, keep procedures transparent. One-on-one meetings and conversations have a big impact on engagement, too, so try not to rely on emailing or Slack notifications. The more employees feel included and valued, the more they’ll be engaged.

Get everyone talking by building a feedback culture.

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