New research reveals figures which highlight the significant employee engagement gap within UK SMEs. According to the research, two thirds of senior managers (64%) within UK SMEs believe their staff feel valued. Yet when posed the same question, less than half of non-managerial SME employees (46%) feel valued at work.
Propellernet, a digital marketing agency which enjoys engagement scores of over 90%, conducted the research in partnership with employee engagement and communications consultancy, Become Communications. The study marks the launch of SUPERENGAGED, a new, bestselling book written by Managing Director Nikki Gatenby, that provides practical insight and tips based on experience, on how to transform a business by putting people and purpose first.
The research highlights how almost a quarter of SME employees (24%) are disengaged, which suggests senior managers are worryingly in the dark over the impact this can have on their business and the additional revenue and profit they could be missing out on.
Engagement is costing SMEs profit and productivity
In 2009, research by EngageforSuccess demonstrated the commercial link between engagement and profitability. Today, nearly 10 years after this definitive research was published, it seems there is still some way to go until the engagement gap is closed.
Despite 87% of managers saying that their business is taking active steps to improve employee engagement, only 12% list it as a business priority. Customer satisfaction (45%) and revenue and profit (12%) are reported to be of increased priority, and half of businesses (50%) do not invest anything in increasing engagement.
Furthermore, according to the research, just 1% of employees believe that recruitment and retention is a priority for management.
Delving into this further, perhaps there is something to be said of the fact that only a third of managers (32%) say they have a strong understanding of the term employee engagement. So, despite the majority of managers recognising the importance of increasing engagement, any initiatives they employ are unlikely to yield the required results.
Lisa Pantelli, Director of Become Communications and employee engagement specialist said: “Average UK engagement scores have remained stagnant despite the well-documented link between engagement and profitability. Too often initiatives and ideas are introduced to the business with little understanding as to whether they’re going to work or not – or an articulation of what an engaged team means to them. This research shows that while businesses think they are taking active steps forward and despite their best intentions, it’s not working.
Business owners and senior managers need more practical support in how to encourage positive change. Not enough is out there. SUPERENGAGED is a fantastic blueprint for driving this shift and taking the conversation out from theory and into action.”
When senior managers were asked what steps they are taking to increase engagement, the most popular was regular meetings and training. However, when employees were asked what would make them feel more engaged at work, ranking highest was flexible working (36%) and recognition for good work (36%). These figures suggest that managers may be investing time and money in other areas which do not positively contribute to driving engagement.
Further examples of managers overestimating how engaged employees are can be seen when looking into the values and purpose of a business; 42% of managers believe their employees are aligned to the purpose of the business, yet just half as many employees (22%) say that they are. Similarly, three quarters of managers (74%) believe that their business operates in alignment with their values compared to just half of employees (51%).
Nikki Gatenby, MD, Propellernet commented:
“If you step away from just thinking about profit, you can transform your company by putting people and purpose first instead. Some business leaders believe that this can harm the bottom line, but this a misinformed theory. At Propellernet, we have managed to triple our margin, quadruple revenue and generate ten times more profit – proving beyond all doubt that putting people first creates genuine success.
“Our staff turnover is just 7%, compared to an industry average of 30%. 98% of our team would recommend working at Propellernet to others – and actively do. This has a positive impact around the business, on each other, our clients, our environment – it’s a magnet for good people, having a positive ripple effect beyond the agency walls to you. And this level of recommendation saves us considerable time and effort on recruiting, time we can focus into client impact instead.”
Employee wellbeing is perceived to be low on the corporate agenda
The research also highlighted the apparent disconnect on the topic of employee psychological wellbeing. The study found that 34% of senior managers strongly believe that employee psychological wellbeing is a priority to leadership teams, compared to 13% of employees. With only 43% of employees believing that their company is committed to work life balance (compared to 64% of managers) and employees feeling under recognised for the work that they do, it could be said that SMEs are failing to achieve their full potential by failing to appropriately support those who are there to help them succeed.
For anyone who is interested in improving employee engagement and reaping the many rewards this will bring, SUPERENGAGED, the new book by Propellernet’s Managing Director Nikki Gatenby, reveals exactly how to do this.
To find out how to transform your business by putting people and purpose first, order your copy via Amazon.