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Are your employees engaged?

The consultancy Blessing White regularly surveys 30,000 people across the world and measures levels of engagement from fully engaged to fully disengaged. The figures for Europe show that 31% are engaged and a further 24% are almost engaged.  But that means that just under half the workforce are not even ‘almost engaged’. Why is this?
An answer can be found in the details of their survey. It shows that for Europe and North America the top three drivers of employee satisfaction are:
1. More opportunities to do what I do best
2. Career development opportunities and training
3. More flexible job conditions
There is nothing revolutionary in these results. It seems blindingly obvious that if people are doing satisfying work and getting good training they are more likely to be engaged. If this results in career opportunities then people are likely to stay with their employer and feel motivated. But what about the third driver ‘ More flexible job conditions’?
This is perhaps less obvious than the first two points. ‘Flexible job conditions’ is broader than just ‘flexible working’ in the traditional sense. It is more likely to indicate the level of autonomy an individual has in their job and hence the control they have over the way they work. Having a choice of when, where and how to get the job done seems to be strongly connected with engagement.
This aligns with the arguments Alison and I put forward in ‘Future Work’ (see We maintain that a ‘trusting and empowering’ culture is much more likely to stimulate employee engagement than a ‘command and control’ one. We also show how agile working patterns are a sure indication of this type of culture. So, giving people freedom over their working conditions is not just an HR initiative or a ‘family friendly’ policy. It’s a key part of business strategy. It’s a driver of engagement, which in turn drives business success. 
As Blessing White conclude from their survey “We believe that aligning employees’ values, goals, and aspirations with those of the organization is the best method for achieving the sustainable employee engagement required for an organization to thrive.” So, if you want your organisation to thrive and you want your employees to be engaged, maybe you need to look carefully at your culture and management practices. Are you allowing people freedom in the way they work or are you still trying to control what they do?