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Improving employee engagement will boost GDP by £26 billion

The UK is suffering from an employee engagement deficit, according to a report from the new campaign Engage for Success. Only around one in three workers claim to be engaged, putting the UK in a lowly ninth place out of the world's twelve largest economies for engagement levels.

The report linked low engagement to poor productivity and claimed that output per hour in the UK was 20 percentage points lower than the rest of G7 industrialised nations last year.

It cited a growing body of evidence, including case studies, commercial data and academic research, highlighting the vital economic importance of employee engagement for the economy. It's thought that if the UK improved its engagement up to the levels of, say, the Netherlands, the country would enjoy an estimated increase in GDP of nearly £26 billion. It's little wonder that improving employee engagement has become the top workforce priority for UK businesses this year, according to a CBI Harvey Nash employment trends survey.

A successful organisation is built on a content and motivated workforce. But the high morale and enthusiasm typical of engaged employees can't be forced on to staff from above. It's fostered in a trusting, supportive environment and nurtured by leaders who can communicate objectives and are responsive to ideas and innovation from below.

With decades of experience in improving workplace interaction, Acas has recently published its tips for boosting engagement in Employee engagement . The advice maintains that leaders should be visible and regularly project a consistent vision for the future. Managers should be trained in 'soft management skills', such as active listening, and be confident communicators, putting across objectives and being receptive to feedback. Employees should have a 'voice' so that their contributions can be heard and implemented. After all, it's the workforce that usually has first-hand knowledge of what's working best.

Trust is the glue that binds these good practices together. It needs to be present at all levels of an organisation's structure to allow free-flowing communication, exchange of ideas, confidence in decision making, and to create an overall sense that everyone is working towards the same goal.

Acas can help your organisation improve its employee engagement, providing free, impartial and independent advice, including the pdf icon Advisory booklet - The People Factor [937kb]. Acas also offers training courses on strengthening employee engagement, listed under Staff retention.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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