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3 Oct 20236 min read

UK Employee Engagement Survey: Are People Doing What They Do Best?

Let's Ask The Audience: How Engaged Are Full Time Employees?

Strengthify surveyed over 400 full time employees in the United Kingdom, aged 21+, between August and September 2023 to find out how they viewed different aspects of their engagement at work; including their team and manager. We used a number of employee engagement survey questions  focused on different areas to help us understand perception of the employee experience, employee satisfaction and employee well-being in their current work environment. 

Developing Understanding Through Research

Using employee engagement surveys to understand employee engagement is often a key tool for HR departments and senior leaders; often providing a valuable insight into how well the organisation, managers and teams are creating trust and inspiring employee engagement. 

We want to help organisations understand broader issues and opportunities, including across sectors and demographics. Our research on UK employee engagement is focused on highlighting broader issues and opportunities within the UK, especially where 'engagement' factors can be linked to opportunities to take actions to improve motivation, morale and productivity. 

We believe managers are often the key; both in positive and negative employee engagement feedback. Our research underpins this hypothesis with clear correlations between positive perceptions of the support and guidance provided by managers and employee's positive perceptions in respect of being able to feel like they're able to consistently do what they do best, and indeed that they're using their 'strengths' individually and within a team.

Do you feel like you're consistently able to do what you do best at work?

We all spend a huge amount of our waking lives at work and feeling able to 'do what you do best' and deliver consistently good results is going to go a long way to making you feel valued and appreciated.

It is also likely to make you want to stay in your role, and be less tempted by other offers which may be less of a 'fit' for your strengths, even if they offer more pay or other benefits.

However, this is also a key question that every organisation should want the vast majority of their staff to be able to unequivocally say ‘yes’ to, as it speaks to their ability to make people feel like their time is being spent as productively as possible.

Obviously there will be exceptions, but these would hopefully be relatively small in overall numbers, as otherwise a large proportion of your organisation are operating below their optimum. They will also likely be less engaged and suffer other negative psychological impacts, especially if this is a long term issue, and be more likely to leave the organisation if opportunities present themselves.

Across the board, we found that 7/10 (71%) agreed with this statement; they felt like they were consistently able to do what they did best at work. While some respondents may be going through individual challenges related to their role or organisation, every organisation should want to have this figure as high as possible due to the correlation with positive outcomes for individuals and the organisation by maximising the value each individual can bring to the organisation based on their own strengths.

However, a concerning 3/10 (28%) respondents indicated they did not feel they were consistently able to do what they did best at work. This represents a significant need and opportunity to reduce this figure; potentially resulting in significant increases in individual productivity; higher levels of employee engagement, better job satisfaction and reduced levels of work-related stress, anxiety and frustration.

The Importance of Motivation & Support

Employees are at heart of any organisation; with highly engaged employees, a positive workplace culture, regular employee feedback, an emphasis on employee well-being and a good work-life balance all contributing to making an organisation a 'great place to work'. 

However, it might be easy to overlook that one of the influential factors in achieving and increasing and/or maintaining employee engagement levels is the quality of the motivation and support they receive from their manager.

The impact between having a positive experience from their direct manager in regards to feeling like the are supported and motivated correlates with 8/10 (82%) of respondents agreeing they feel they are able to consistently do what they do best at work.

A stark comparison is that only half as many respondents - 4/10 (39%) - agree they feel they are able consistently what they do best at work, where they do not feel motivated and supported by their manager.

Organisations need to continually invest in finding the right people to lead teams and providing them with the training and support to provide the right levels of motivation and support to their teams.

Management to Staff Divide

Managers are often key to positive employee engagement, but their own engagement and views are also important; things get a bit more interesting if we split out those who are in management positions, where 3/4 (75%) agreed they were able to consistently do what they did best.

The figure was  lower for those not in management positions, with just under 7/10 (68%) feeling like they were able to agree.

While this difference between those in management positions, and those not, is potentially because managers have more control over their work, it still indicates an opportunity to improve employee engagement for organisations and managers who choose to consciously address this divide.

The Undecided

There was also a nearly identical 1/8 (12%) for both those in management roles and those which were not they neither agreed or disagreed with the statement that they felt they were able to consistently able to do what they did best at work. 

An element may be that they are unsure of what they do best, and what it would feel like to consistently be in this more positive and productive space. A clear opportunity for managers, and the organisations supporting them, to find ways of helping individuals understand what they do best and to try to help them work more in this area.

Age Seems to be a Factor

Across both those in management positions and those not, there was a notable decrease in their likelihood to agree with that they were able to consistently do their best at work as their age increased.

For managers the amount which agreed started around 5/10 (50%) for those 21-34 years old, going up 6/10 for those 35-44 (60%) and those 45-54 (62%), but then dropped significantly for those 55+ with only 9/20 (46%) agreeing they felt they are able to consistently do what they did best.

For those not in management positions the likelihood of those agreeing went from 7/10 (72%) for 21-34, up to 2/3 (67%) for both those 35-44 and 45-54, and then just down to 6/10 (62%) for those 55+.

How valuable would it be if your manager was better equipped to help you understand and harness your individual strengths?

With no significant statistical variation between managers/non-managers or age groups, pretty much on the dot 2/3 (66%) of respondents said they felt it would be very or extremely valuable if their manager was better equipped to harness their individual strengths.

If we added in the slightly valuable responses the figure is 94%, with only 2% saying it would be ‘not at all valuable’.

A great opportunity for organisations and teams to start looking to understand and fill the ‘strengths gap’ and help managers become better coaches and mentors; resulting in highly engaged employees which are likely to report better job satisfaction and a better work-life balance, especially when combined with regular and meaningful feedback.

How Strengthify can help

We carry out regular research around employee engagement to help organisations better understand what is currently impacting their employees. We provide consultancy, training and ongoing support to organisations wishing to improve managers' and team's engagement, well-being and productivty using positive psychology and a strengths-based approach.

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