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One in five don't know if they have an engagement strategy

Only 14% said they understood their organisation's definition of engagement, and 37% admitted to having no idea

Almost one in five (17%) employers do not know if they have an engagement strategy or not, according to research from People Lab.

Spotlight on the Employee Engagement Profession found that 38% of organisations do not have a strategy in place at all. Under half (47%) measure the impact of employee engagement within their organisation, and 48% of managers admitted they do not have a good understanding of the concept.

Interest in engagement was revealed to be relatively newfound, with 62% of firms reporting that their focus here started five years ago or less. Three-quarters (76%) of respondents who work in the engagement sector said that they have no formal training in the field, and only 59% said they were required to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) for their methods.

The report found that more than a quarter (26%) of firms have no budget at all for engagement, and 21% allocate under £10,000.

Most firms (80%) were found to measure their engagement levels through an annual survey, while 8% poll their workers twice per year. Only 4% run a quarterly survey, and 8% hold a survey less regularly than once a year.

Emma Bridger, managing director at People Lab, told HR magazine that she has not seen much improvement over the years that she has been studying employee engagement. “This is a hot topic, so why aren’t we seeing any improvement?” she asked. “There’s a real focus, but not much investment.”

Another problem is difficultly defining an organisation's engagement strategy. Only 14% of those polled in the survey said they understood their firm's definition of engagement, and 37% admitted to having no idea.

“We firmly believe that if there was clarity over the positive impact employee engagement has on businesses, for example clear ROI, it would mitigate many of the barriers we uncovered in the research,” said Bridger. “It’s hard to understand what people are measuring, if they have no clarity over what success means to them."

“If CEOs and senior leaders are serious about increasing engagement, which we categorically know has a positive impact on the bottom line, they need to invest in making sure that their people have the skills, training and support that they need and deserve,” she added.