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Employee Engagement Most Influenced by Immediate Supervisors and Workplace Communication

October 2011 (SmartPros) As companies emerge from the worst recession since the Depression, they are faced with low employee engagement and poor workplace morale that can slow the recovery process.

A new survey by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Research Foundation and Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company, finds that an individual’s supervisor and the amount of employee communication in an organization are the top two influencers of employee engagement.

Factors increasing and decreasing employee engagement
An immediate supervisor can influence an employee’s engagement level both positively and negatively. Forty-four percent of survey respondents said their supervisor strongly increased employee engagement, while 41 percent said supervisors strongly decreased employee engagement.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents indicated the amount of employee communication is a strong contributor to employee engagement, and 47 percent said it had a moderate influence. Other factors contributing to increased engagement included change in leadership (31 percent) and rewards/recognition programs (18 percent). Factors contributing to decreased employee engagement are poor morale (49 percent), poor management/leadership (48 percent), downsizing (38 percent), and change in leadership (26 percent).

“Another trend we’re seeing is more common use of social media as part of an organization’s employee engagement strategy,” said Robin McCasland, chair, IABC Research Foundation and president, Brain Biscuits Strategic Communication. “The differences between internal and external communication are blurring, and organizations that communicate effectively through social media are finding that it enhances a positive workplace culture, supports employee engagement and reinforces a favorable external reputation.”

“One of the key findings of this year’s survey is that enhancing the organization’s culture and work environment has become the respondents’ highest ranked goal for employee engagement,” said Bob Carr, principal at Buck Consultants. “Organizations are committing themselves more deeply to effectively engaging their employees, knowing that this is the key to meeting their productivity, retention, and overarching business goals.”

This is the third “Employee Engagement Survey” conducted by the IABC Research Foundation and Buck Consultants to determine how organizations are communicating with employees to keep them engaged and productive. Nearly 1,000 communication professionals participated in this year’s survey, representing a broad industry and geographic base. 

Other survey highlights include:

* Goals for engaging employees
Last year, companies were most concerned with increasing productivity in the workplace. This year’s survey found that creating a new culture or work environment (33 percent) was the most important goal identified by survey respondents, followed by increasing productivity (28 percent) and retaining top talent (26 percent).

* Communication methods used to engage employees and foster productivity
Similar to the results from the previous year’s survey, emails (81 percent) and intranet (72 percent) are the most frequently used communication methods in the workplace for employee engagement. Compared to results in 2010, there was a slight decrease in the numbers for face-to-face communication (46 percent) and a slight increase in the numbers for social media (16 percent).

More than half the companies surveyed used blogs (69 percent), Twitter (58 percent), Facebook (57 percent), instant messaging (57 percent) and YouTube (53 percent) to communicate with their internal and external audiences.

* Tools added to the corporate intranet
More than 50 percent of respondents said their organizations added content-sharing tools to their intranets within the past five years. Employee profiles/bios, news feeds, traditional blogs and various collaboration tools were popular additions.

To download the complete survey report, visit

2011 SmartPros Ltd. All rights reserved.

Source: IABC

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