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Is employee engagement different in different industries and sectors?

Does engagement differ in different organisations?

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Something I've been wondering about quite a bit lately is whether employee engagement is the same thing in every organisation? I would say it is the same beast, but with different trappings depending on whether it's a big or small organisation, private, public or third sector, the sector (tech? manufacturing?) or even possibly the nationality of the company. What do you think?

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Shonette new
By Shonette
23rd Jul 2015 11:03

I definitely think larger/international corporations will struggle a lot more with engaging staff - not only on the comms side, but also because a one-size-fits-all approach almost certainly won't work, although I guess if you're all centred around a common company purpose you can then make teams and offices autonomous with their own engagement efforts, and just do a bit of knowledge share/feedback. What has been your experience? Is there any sector which struggles in particular?

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By Jasmine Gartner
23rd Jul 2015 11:54

Apparently, manufacturing suffers - I was just reading a Gallup article about how it's hard to get factory workers to care about mission. They're more interested in "local mission," an idea I find highly problematic. I think you can absolutely engage factory workers - look at Toyota or Dotson.

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By JENNIFERUCHEJUWAH
23rd Jul 2015 14:06

From a study by engage for success they found that organisations with engagement within the bottom quartile for employee engagement average 62% more accidents... So i definitely think that the manufacturing, science and engineering, Research and development sectors benefit the most from employee engagement.

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By Jasmine Gartner
23rd Jul 2015 15:32

That's a really good point - engagement is about high performance, and that's a great example of it. Thanks for sharing that, Jennifer.

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By Joe Brooks
23rd Jul 2015 18:32

I think it's definitely going to vary significantly from company to company and based on job function, industry, location, etc. There are obviously many components that contribute toward employee engagement, but the relative contribution is going to vary significantly. Take various benefits like paid time off, for example. If you live and work in the US, as I do, getting only 15 vacation days a year is fairly normal, when someone in Europe may well be getting double that. Obviously that's only a small part of the equation, but companies here are beginning to realize that going above and beyond the norm in terms of vacation days (and other "benefits" like paid maternity leave) helps them to attract and, more importantly, retain employees.

From an industry or function perspective, someone could be in a fairly menial role for which there's not much training/development potential, whereas a colleague in a higher level role might be being offered training and coaching to nurture them for a promotion. The latter is perhaps going to be more engaged, as they feel their career progression is being encourage and supported, even though they're working in the same organization as the former.

So I think it's fair to say that there is a myriad of factors that are going to influence how engaged employees are, but at the foundation the goal is the same - to make employees feel valued and to retain talent that your organization has often invested heavily in acquiring and training.

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By Jasmine Gartner
23rd Jul 2015 19:15

Agreed, but I think there are some things that all workplaces will share in common in terms of engagement. For example, companies must share their strategic narrative with their employees and they must listen to employees' fears and concerns, as well as have adult conversations about change. Employees need to be actively involved in their own engagement as well!

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By ben_heald
31st Jul 2015 12:17

Not sure it's intrinsically different in different sectors, but it sure is different across businesses.

I'd say the thing that matters though is momentum. There's nothing absolute with engagement. As with many things in life, if there's a trend or a story line then people will follow and support it. Thus the best organisations build their engagement activities slowly; small incremental changes being much better than a big-bang approach.

And of course, when you're starting from a low base, the very smallest things can make a big difference! Lots of examples from Sift over the last couple of years - introduction of free fruit, conversion of CEO bike space to bike cage, collaborative tasting for new coffee/tea supplies, conversion of bins to plant pots, etc.

What underpins it though are the regular fortnightly 20 minute meetings that all the various teams have to decide on the next thing to focus on.

Final point, engagement is necessarily particular and personal to an organisation; and needs to tune into its own culture.

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By Jasmine Gartner
31st Jul 2015 18:39

Hi Ben,

I couldn't agree with you more about momentum. I have seen so many good starts made by companies, only to have them fall down because they haven't thought about how to maintain the momentum!

I also agree that engagement isn't absolute - in fact, it has a life cycle, with ups and downs, good days and bad.

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Shonette new
By Shonette
03rd Aug 2015 10:43

Momentum is definitely key - I've been in companies who have done plenty of nice things for employees such as free lunch or a day out, but they've been one-offs so have no lasting impact. Sometimes just small changes and regular catch-ups with teams are more than enough, rather than relying on a singular grand gesture.

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