Can employee engagement improve productivity?

September 8, 2016

Theresa May has recently stated that she wants to improve productivity in the country. This will clearly require improvements across a whole range of factors, but one area where HR professionals can add value to an organisation’s productivity is to improve employee engagement.

Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organisation and put discretionary effort into their work. Hiring the right people and being able to engage and retain them is key to improving productivity and profitability. When staff are fully engaged, a company benefits from increased efficiency, retention, lower absenteeism and staff talking positively about their place of work to their network of contacts, which in turn may aid recruitment.

Organisations with good employee engagement regularly outperform those without it. A Harvard Business School study conducted over 11 years showed a variety of areas in which companies with the right culture outperformed their counterparts. Revenues were 4.1 times higher, stock prices were 12.2 times higher and return on investment was 15 times higher.

Employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction and requires a strategic approach.

So how do you create an employee engagement strategy? Terry L. Mathis, CEO of ProAct Safety, recently suggested it usually covers three main areas: affinity, affiliation and autonomy.

Affinity – believing in or buying in to your cause is essential. Writing for Industry Week, Terry L. Mathis says, “without affinity, or believing in your cause, workers will put their hands and feet to work but not their hearts and minds”. This wonderful phrase demonstrates the importance of companies clearly articulating their vision throughout the organisation.

Communication of the internal brand and external brand are improved when HR and marketing departments align and collaborate to effectively communicate your vision.

Affiliation – this is not just an opportunity to participate but an opportunity to belong by taking ownership or responsibility or making a meaningful contribution, according to Terry. Communicating the value of each role to delivering your product or service is essential to creating a sense of belonging and value. Achieving buy-in and affinity requires an emotional response best achieved by carefully articulating your ambitions so again, marketing and HR can run effective workshops to explain the importance of teamwork, co-operation, personal investment and service delivery.

Autonomy – people support and contribute towards ventures they feel they have helped to create. Terry emphasises that allowing your people an opportunity to participate in the development of the business and the success of the brand motivates performance and improves engagement. Your teams should have a sense of ownership and fulfilment.

In his Industry Week article, Terry goes on to say that the traditional carrot-and-stick theories of motivation have been proven to be ineffective and even counterproductive, indeed compliance rarely fosters engagement. Internal workshops facilitated by HR and Marketing where your people understand your brand, identify the customer touch points and also share ideas on how they can improve certain areas or processes have been shown to improve service delivery.

The next seminars in Square One Law’s People Power series are going to concentrate on how to align your HR and Marketing teams so they add more value by improving employee engagement, service delivery and a greater understanding of the company’s brand. If you are a business owner, HR or marketing director/manager, you can attend the event in Wynyard on October 12 or in Newcastle October on 13.


For enquiries about Square One Law’s People Power Series, contact Lucy Murray on 0843 224 7932 or


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