Four barriers to employee engagement

A recent report by Be The Business that compared productivity in the UK compared to other G7 countries noted that the UK fell far behind (sixth!) most other countries when it comes to undertaking employee engagement initiatives. Given the importance and clear benefits of employee engagement, the key issue is why wouldn’t leaders seek to undertake engagement initiatives and create a vibrant culture?

Common barriers making leaders resistant to tackling low engagement appear to be:

  1. Fearing a deflating response from staff surveys (very common where leaders have made personal efforts to improve job satisfaction); 
  2. Cynicism about the opinions and expectations of different generations;
  3. A belief that is will only create more pressure of pay rises; and
  4. Not knowing what to do to improve employee engagement. 

Avoiding the above to create an insightful and data driven  review that delivers practical solutions to deliver and measurable employee engagement requires some skill and experience. We use insightful tools based on thorough research and commercial use to create a data driven approach. 

Of course, every business is different although recent findings based on interviews and quantitative analysis contradict the barriers stated above and include:

  1. Personality can be less important than leadership: Employees recognise the value of responsible leadership that provides effective vision and strategy and notice when this is absent;
  2. A well structured survey will help distinguish between immediate manager feedback and overall leadership, with very different interventions required for each;
  3. Salary and compensation is an obvious sensitivity for many but fairness and transparency are an overriding concern;
  4. Younger generations are not surprisingly different from other employees, with low tolerance for management inefficiencies that impact them and a high desire for development;
  5. Cynicism in the workplace can be highest among managers and senior managers, which comes as the biggest surprise for leaders.

The challenge with senior manager cynicism is that it can permeate throughout the organisation, colouring engagement initiatives. Interventions to overcome this cynicism support all teams and business productivity including a focus on collaboration, trust and social intelligence.

Drawing on our experience of working with scores of CEOs and business leaders, either as part of their leadership team or as clients, we provide a collegiate and objective analysis to provide practical solutions, typically acting as a catalyst for teams to help themselves to create a vibrant culture.

We work with scale up businesses to established businesses to help them accelerate business outcomes, drawing on our experience of working in and with high growth businesses. Our integrated approach combines operational expertise covering leadership, strategy, people, finance, legal and IT. 

If you would like a confidential conversation to understand how we might help you, you can contact us on for one of our specialists to get back to you.

Leave a Reply