The enemy of engagement

by 07 Dec 2011

New research has revealed that employee frustration is the ‘silent killer’ of workplace productivity, and industry consultants have said tackling the issue will be the key battleground in the war on talent.

According to the new release published by Hay Group, The Enemy of Engagement, a lack of employee enablement is the leading cause in workplace frustration, yet it is rarely addressed or even recognised by organisations.

According to Hay Group, some 15% of the workforce are frustrated with arbitrary processes and lack of leadership, and Steven Ewin, head of Insight Pacific, said frustration has significant impacts on employee performance, retention, customer satisfaction and revenue growth.

Ewin commented, “Frustration wears down motivated, dedicated employees who really care about their jobs but can’t get the organisational support they need to get things done. Managers must address issues such as internal barriers or the lack of resources, or risk losing top talent who care deeply about the organisation.”

Co-author of the book, Tom Agnew, said frustration isn’t an ‘employee’ issue but an organisational issue. “Managers must listen for clues and serve as the voice for frustrated employees,” he said.

The results of proactive leadership can have profound results on the bottom line. The Hay Group research found that companies which ranked in the top quartile on both engagement and enablement achieved revenue growth four and a half times greater than companies in the bottom quartile.

In addition, companies that both engage and enable employees demonstrate a total reduction in voluntary turnover of 54%.

The New Year is a crucial time of the year for staff retention, as many Australian professionals take stock of their work life and consider their career direction and options.

The most recent Michael Page Employment Index showed that one in five employers identified talent retention/attraction as a key concern in the New Year period.

Agnew said the main drivers of frustration include:

  • Poor communication about goals, performance: Nearly one-third of employees indicate that their managers do not effectively communicate the goals and objectives for their teams.
  • Resource constraints: One-third of employees report that they do not have the resources and information they need to do their jobs well. More than half of employees express concerns about inadequate staffing levels in their work areas.
  • Unclear authority: Thirty per cent of employees indicate that they do not have enough authority to carry out their jobs effectively, and more than 40% feel that the potential for adverse consequences discourages them from taking actions or making decisions.


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