are managers the reason your employee engagement is low?

The why and the what of managers' roles in employee engagement.

Managers play a hugely important part in the success of an organization. They can inspire their teams to perform well and contribute to the business’ growth. However, they can also be the reason employees leave their jobs. In a 2015 study, management consultancy firm Gallup found that “one in two employees have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career”.

Meanwhile, according to separate research from Dr James K Harter, chief scientist for workplace management at Gallup, employees leave companies largely because of factors that filter through the local work environment, while “at least 75 percent of reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by managers”. This equates to a huge proportion of workers.

As well as retention, managers also have an effect on talent attraction. Top performers want to work for organizations where they know they’ll get quality mentorship. This is just one of the reasons your company should focus on the concept of management.

Managers’ effect on productivity

Gallup’s research found that organizations that hire talented managers see a 48 percent increase in profitability and a 22 percent rise in productivity. However, the impact they have extends even further. These companies also experience 30 percent increases in employee engagement scores and a 19 percent drops in turnover. 

Meanwhile, managers with high talent are more likely to be engaged than others. More than half (54 percent) of managers with high talent are engaged, compared with 39 percent of managers with functioning talent and 27 percent of managers with limited talent.

These high-talent leaders were also found to place more emphasis on employees' strengths than their weaknesses. Gallup reported that it has found that this strengths-based approach is linked to higher levels of employee engagement and wellbeing, as well as better team productivity and profitability.

Personal relationships

Money may be important to workers, but it doesn't buy employee loyalty. Personal relationships can be vital to employee retention. If you’re wondering why your organization might not be retaining staff the way you’d like, it’s definitely a good idea to take a look at workers’ relationships with their managers.

An anonymous survey could be a useful way of getting workers to discuss any concerns they may have, as well as sharing what they most appreciate. If workers are in agreement that certain elements of your company’s management does not work, you now have the evidence that a change might be necessary. At the same time, you’ll also find out what your business should be doing more of, and this can inform a new management strategy.

Educate managers

Faced with losing top talent, businesses should ensure they do not forget the importance that managers have when it comes to retaining and attracting top talent. Instruct your managers in retention processes and policies, as this gives them information they can put into context, thinking about how it might affect their real-world teams.

And it starts early - right at the recruitment stage. Training webinar provider Knowledge Wave recommends that businesses train their managers “to ensure that there’s a good match between employees and your organization during the hiring process”, resulting in retention being less of an issue. This may be true, but retention is not always as straightforward as organizational culture fit.

In order to give your company the best chance of keeping your top performers, Knowledge Wave advises that you “train your managers to regularly provide employees with performance feedback, training… career opportunities, and acknowledgement for positive contributions”. This actively engages workers and boosts their experience with your organization.