Measuring the impact of engagement

Over half (53 per cent) do not measure the impact of employee engagement, says People Lab

With employee engagement moving up up the corporate agenda, new research released today by specialist employee engagement consultancy, People Lab, reveals the staggering lack of investment and strategic focus by corporates in keeping their own people engaged.

According to People Lab’s report: ‘Spotlight On the Employee Engagement Profession’, over half (53 per cent) of UK organisations do not measure the impact of employee engagement, citing barriers such as line managers and senior leadership’s lack of priority as major barriers to success.

Despite employee retention and business performance being two major priorities, the findings showed how Corporates actually treat staff engagement as a low priority, . Only 59 percent reported any demand to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) with many lacking the training needed to make an impact.  Few professionals in the survey who have responsibility for employee engagement have had the opportunity to receive any formal skills training. In fact, despite 81 per cent of respondents working in the sector for more than two years, over three quarters (76 per cent) have not received any formal training.

Emma Bridger, Managing Director at People Lab commented: “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. It’s hard to understand what people are measuring, if they have no clarity over what success means to them.”

The report highlights six recommendations to help organisations be smarter in their approach to employee engagement. These are:

  • Identify a definition of employee engagement: define what it is you are trying to achieve, what it means to you and what success looks like. Communicate this internally and ensure everyone understands the role that they play.
  • Invest for success:You don’t necessarily need to spend tens of thousands on an employee engagement programme but you do need to make sure that your people are equipped to do their job well. If you talk the talk, walk the walk and don’t be afraid of demonstrating or asking for an ROI.
  • Start with the end in mind: Align your engagement goals and strategy to your organisational goals and strategy. This is critical to to ensuring employee engagement adds value to your business.
  • Create a team of experts: Develop those individuals and teams, with formal responsibility for engagement as well as managers and anyone who leads a team. It’s not something that is inherent to many people, but something which needs to be developed and taught.
  • Unblock the leadership barrier:Engagement presents a new management philosophy and requires new and different skills from leaders. Senior leaders need to clearly demonstrate their commitment to the function.
  • Distinguish between internal communications and employee engagement: There continues to be confusion between the two disciplines. Be clear on the role, objectives and expectations of each.

Ms Bridger continues “I know how hard it can be for in-house professionals to take a step back and focus on the road ahead, rather than the now. Legacy systems, small teams and immediate priorities don’t necessarily lend themselves to strategy development. However, if CEO’s 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.”

The confusion around where engagement should sit within an organisation and how to best manage it is evident through the results presented in the research. The full report can be downloaded via the People Lab website at





Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.