Teams And Trust Are Key To Employee Engagement

Authored By: Heather Haslam | Publish Date: August 14, 2019

It’s no secret that employee engagement is critical to an organization’s success. When employees are engaged, turnover is lower, productivity is higher, and, most importantly, people are happier.

ADP wanted to take a deeper dive into this issue to measure levels of engagement and identify what conditions attract and retain workers through a global study. The study focused on what aspects can influence engagement in the workplace ‒ such as working on a team, knowing what’s expected in your role, and having trust in your team leader. The study, conducted by the ADP Research Institute, surveyed over 19,000 employees in 19 countries around the world.

When it comes to employee engagement, the survey revealed that only 17 per cent of Canada’s workforce identified as being ‘fully engaged.’ Although this represents a two per cent increase since the previous survey in 2015, it means 83 per cent of workers in Canada are simply ‘coming to work,’ instead of contributing everything they could to their organization.

Surprisingly, factors like age, gender, education, and length of service had very little impact on engagement. Contrary to popular belief, the survey found that engagement levels of boomers (18 per cent) and millennials (16 per cent) were quite similar, as were engagement levels among women (17 per cent) and men (15 per cent).

So, what does drive engagement exactly?

Employee engagement can be complex on both the individual and organizational level, but the survey revealed a few factors that are key to driving engagement.

Create Strong Teams

Working on a team improves engagement, regardless of demographics, work status, or industry. People who work on a team were twice as likely to be fully engaged than those who didn’t work on a team. This finding was true across all countries in the study.

The challenge for most organizations is that they’re currently not set up to know a lot about their teams. Employers need to recognize that teams are not the same as an organizational chart. Many functional teams that can be fluid, depending on the project. Canadian workplaces should make great teams their primary focus – including what creates them and what can break them.

Build Trust In Team Leaders

Another key driver of employee engagement was trust in team leaders. The survey found workers were 12 times as more likely to be engaged if they trusted their team leaders. A trusted team leader is the foundation for building highly engaged teams and this was true across countries, industries, and position. To help build trust, it’s important for leaders to remove job ambiguity and provide team members with clarity on what’s expected in their roles. Team leaders also need to ensure employees know what their people are really good at – know what makes them special. These strategies can help build trust and camaraderie within teams.

Offer Virtual Work Solutions

Interestingly, the survey found that 29 per cent of virtual workers in a team were fully engaged compared to 18 per cent who work in an office. This suggests that workers don’t need to be in the same physical space to create a sense of team and that the flexibility and ease of working virtually appeals to workers. This is an important insight for Canadian companies who design workspaces so people can encounter each other regularly. While regular connections to people are important, many people also want the ability to ‘tune it out’ when needed.

Canadian workforces can help move the dial on employee engagement by focusing on teams and investing in the right team leaders. When team leaders focus on their employees’ strengths, build trust within their teams, and clearly communicate roles and expectations, teams are more profitable, productive, and engaged. In addition, creating a flexible work environment by offering remote or virtual work options can help boost engagement.

Read the full study.

Heather Haslam is vice president of marketing at ADP Canada.

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