Why does one organization get a reputation as a great place to work while another struggles to retain its employees? It’s never a simple matter of company A paying more than company B. Financial incentives may attract more applicants, but they don’t connect an individual personally to an organization.


Why does one organization get a reputation as a great place to work while another struggles to retain its employees? It’s never a simple matter of company A paying more than company B. Financial incentives may attract more applicants, but they don’t connect an individual personally to an organization. The level of commitment, the willingness of an employee to recommend his or her company as a great place to work and to do business — what we call engagement — can make or break an organization. 





A fully engaged employee is actively involved in and enthusiastic about his or her work. He or she is willing to go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction and make the organization a success, spreading enthusiasm within his or her team and beyond. On the other hand the partially engaged employee does the minimum to get by, concentrates on the job at hand and adds little extra value. The disengaged employee demonstrates negativity at work and undermines the accomplishments of others, potentially creating a toxic atmosphere in the workplace. Engaged employees feel personally connected to an organization, are more productive, are less likely to seek alternative employment, and act as champions for their company. Today, engaged employees are more important than ever. To assess their level of engagement, respondents were asked two questions:

  • How likely are you to recommend your company to your friends as a place of employment?
  • How likely are you to recommend your company to others for the purpose of doing business?

Nationwide, 1500 managers and employees of different ethnicities, working both full and part-time in large and small companies, government and education were surveyed. Less than one-third of those surveyed reported being “Fully Engaged” while just over a quarter were “Disengaged.”  Disengaged employees are 2.5 times more likely than engaged employees to change jobs for as little as a 5% pay increase.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie 


How it is that one person will be invested in their work while another is less engaged? Picking the right person for the job is the obvious first step but for employees already working within an organization it is useful to examine the variables that can impact the level of engagement. A study reveals that gender, ethnicity and race do not affect employee engagement levels, but age, length of service and position within the organization, education level, income, working full or part-time and industry type all play a significant role.  Examining these critical variables in more detail we find that:

•    Young employees and those aged fifty plus are more engaged than people in middle age. This may be attributed to the expectation of a new career or the exuberance of youth, and the achievement of career milestones in older workers. Those in the 40-49 age range are more likely to have external pressures due to family life; however, disengagement could also be due to these employees feeling they have reached a plateau in their careers. Steps need to be taken to ensure the employee doesn’t sink from partial engagement to complete disengagement with all the negative impacts that can have on their work and that of their coworkers. Training opportunities and interventions specifically aimed at workers in their forties should be considered.

•    The length of time an employee has worked for a particular organization affects engagement. Those who have been employed for at least three years are more engaged than the newly employed, particularly employees in the first year with an organization who may be less confident about their role or skills. However, the level of engagement peaks after three years of employment.  


•    Those at a VP level or above are the most fully engaged, but 47% engagement among this group is relatively low given the importance of their role. The economic climate and pessimistic attitude toward “corporate America” may account for the relatively lower level of engagement among senior managers.

•    Surprisingly, fewer of the most educated (post-graduate) are fully engaged compared to those who either have some college experience or even a high school degree. This partial disengagement could be attributed to the most educated having greater expectations that have yet to be met.

•    Higher income correlates with higher engagement, but while there are significantly more people earning $50K and above who are fully engaged than at lower income levels, income is not a driving factor. Unsurprisingly the most  disengaged are those earning less than $50K, but there are multiple  factors  that may influence  this. For example, low- level incomes are usually associated with positions with high customer interaction, where respondents are more likely to be disengaged. There are no differences in engagement based on varying salary levels of the partially engaged.

•    Part-time workers, who make up an increasing part of the national workforce, are much less engaged (26%) and more likely to be disengaged (29%) than full-time employees, who were 31% engaged and 24% disengaged.

•    Client-facing employees, i.e. those in sales or customer service, are the people companies most need to engage. They tend to be the lowest paid, but working at their best level they will boost both customer satisfaction and revenue. Employee engagement is much lower in some sectors than others. Those who work in government, education, and manufacturing are among the most disengaged. Those who work in the health care are the most engaged. More engaged employees feel they are in a high position or well compensated relative to their background, their skills or their age.

•    Emotional Dynamics: Emotions, which we explore in greater depth in the white paper “Emotional Drivers of Employee Engagement,” have a major impact on an employee’s engagement level. Certain emotional responses are positive, others negative, but negative emotions have greater influence.  The fully engaged employee is more enthusiastic, empowered, happy, confident and valued. The disengaged find their workplace upsetting and are irritated merely by having to show up for work.

•    Workplace Dynamics: Positive engagement is affected by overall job satisfaction, but disengagement is mainly impacted by dissatisfaction with senior management, although the disengaged express little satisfaction with any facet of their job. Interpersonal relations, a positive working atmosphere and a caring manager contribute to a climate of engagement. 


•    Employee Engagement is a function of the interaction between background and skills on one hand and position and compensation on the other. It leads to higher staff retention, lower salaries, greater customer satisfaction and stronger sales. Organizations need to manage employee engagement, ensuring that the engaged employees retain their enthusiasm and the disengaged and partially engaged employees move into that category.

•    Senior leaders often find it difficult to assess the impact of employee engagement on their business performance. A study revealed that seven out of ten employees are not fully engaged in the workplace. Just under half do what is expected of them but feel undervalued and are unwilling or unable to put in any extra effort.

•    Disengaged employees exhibit negative behaviors and undermine the accomplishments of their coworkers. The effect can be seen in decreased output and a rise in accidents, absenteeism and staff turnover.  With disengagement having such a detrimental effect on the workplace, some employers may consider it better just to let disaffected workers go, but these employees can carry their discontent outside, damaging the organization’s reputation with customers and potential future hires.

•    Sixty-nine percent of disengaged employees would move to a new employer for as little as a 5% pay increase, whereas it would take a 20% increase in salary to attract an engaged employee. On the other hand, while disengaged employees cost employers time and money, engaged employees drive business. The twenty-nine percent of workers who are fully engaged do more in less time than their colleagues. The resulting benefits are felt within the organization and beyond: greater productivity, increased customer satisfaction, repeat business, and higher profit for the organization and its shareholders. Given these facts, it is surprising that 75% of organizations have no engagement plan or strategy, although 90% say engagement impacts business success. 45% of managers and supervisors are engaged, reflecting their status and remuneration. Only 23% of other level workers are fully engaged. 



•    Senior leaders are the visible face of the organization. They set strategic and cultural goals and steer the company in the right direction to achieve their vision.  Through positive attitudes and actions they can build a culture of engagement that involves and inspires all employees. Sixty percent of employees who have confidence in the abilities of senior leaders and think that senior leaders are moving the organization in the right direction are fully engaged, compared with less than a third who disagrees with the statement.

•    Employees want to be able to voice their opinions and to know that their opinions matter.  Unsurprisingly, employees who say their company encourages open and honest communication are more engaged.  They welcome the opportunity to share concerns and work together to find solutions. Sixty-one percent of employees who say they are satisfied with the amount of input they have in decisions affecting their work are engaged. When employees feel they lack opportunities to express opinions or they feel their voice is unheard, they tend to become unmotivated.

•    Most employees know what is expected of them, but the opportunity to grow and develop new skills and try new things drives engagement. Senior leaders establish engagement by providing a clear career path; ensuring employees receive helpful feedback and initiating training programs throughout the organization. Workers need to feel that what they do is meaningful and that they are working for a successful company. Sixty percent who feel they have an impact on the direction of the company are engaged.



•    People want to feel they belong to a community that shares their values.  When the values of the organization and the employee align, and when employees see organizational behaviors that reflect those values, they are engaged. For example, one-third of employees say their organization values diversity; of those, 55% are engaged.  Management can reinforce its commitment by ensuring a safe working environment where employees feel that their health and well-being are supported.

•    There is a direct correlation between corporate responsibility and employee engagement. The engagement level is twice as high (54% vs 25%) among those who say they are proud of contributions their organization has made to the community.

•    Senior leaders can further generate engagement in the workplace by promoting a spirit of teamwork and cooperation.This positive peer interaction allows employees to look forward to going to work and helps them create long-lasting friendships among their colleagues. These are the employees who feel proud to be working for their organization and act as ambassadors for it. 



At IBI Global, we believe that education drives technology not technology drives education since good teachers and experts inspire learners to be lifelong learners.



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