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Employee engagement - what is it and how do we build it?

The coalition government has made plain its commitment to boosting employee engagement. But just what is it, and how can it be achieved?

The term 'employee engagement' has become something of a buzzword over the past 18 months. The government has set up a new taskforce to focus on ways of improving it, while this year's Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) summer 2011 Employee Outlook survey included, for the first time, an employee engagement rating. This was based on a wide range of factors, including commitment to an organisation, faith in its management, and having an understanding of its goals and priorities.

But what exactly is employee engagement? And how successful are British companies and organisations at building it?

'Employee engagement' is defined in the 2009 government report Engaging for Success as "a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation's goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, and enhance their own sense of well-being." It is increasingly being seen as crucial to improving productivity in the workplace - particularly during periods of economic downturn.

Yet while the term is gaining currency, exactly how to foster it remains a challenge. The results of the CIPD survey would appear to show a disappointing lack of engagement, particularly among public sector workers. Importantly, a lack of trust between members of the higher and lower echelons of organisations was cited across the board, as was enhanced pressure at work due to budget cuts.

Acas runs practical training courses to equip managers, supervisors and HR professionals with the necessary skills to build trust in management and engage employees.  Visit the Acas training and business solutions page for more information.

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