4 ways for managers to support engagement

Megan Thompson · July 14, 2022

Employers have been dealt a difficult hand over the last few years. Covid-19, the Great Resignation and the cost of living crisis have significantly impacted their people. HR leaders were required to take quick action during the pandemic and many have made a great start on engagement and wellbeing.

In fact, UK employers have outperformed the rest of the world when it comes to wellbeing and creating happier workplaces. However, it has become increasingly important for HR leaders to take the next step in employee engagement, shifting from talking about creating a people-first workplace, to actually walking the talk and embedding employee engagement into your existing culture and workplace structure.

Why enabling your managers is crucial

Empowering your managers and senior execs is the key to a more successful engagement strategy that is aligned with your business goals and objectives. The expression “people leave managers not companies” is true. In fact, 57% of people have left a job to get away from a bad manager – just imagine what their engagement levels were like.

It can be hard for change to trickle down from the top, so equipping your managers with the knowledge, skills and resources to address disengagement in their teams is the best way to level up your engagement strategy.

This also allows HR to focus on the big picture, supporting managers and developing company-wide initiatives that will aid in meeting business objectives.

Clue managers in ASAP

Despite all employees taking part in engagement surveys, often it is only HR and the C-Suite who get full access to their people’s results and insights. Top level reporting provides a snapshot of how employees felt at the time of the survey, and later, information is slowly drip-fed down the organisation until eventually managers get a diluted (and sometimes outdated) picture of their team’s feelings.

This means managers often have to work out what to do next, which rarely happens because of heavy workloads, confusing reports and unclear recommendations.

But does this approach make sense for your developing engagement strategy? Your managers speak to their team every day and have an established relationship with their employees. When it comes to acting on survey results it is vital to strike while the iron is hot to ensure meaningful and significant action is taken.

Therefore, providing your managers with instant insights about their team is one of the fastest routes to engage your people. This allows HR to take a step back, working with management to deliver a more personalised response and have a much bigger impact.

Provide clear post-survey action plans and recommendations

Most line managers are promoted on the basis that they’ve performed well in previous roles and the natural next step in their professional development is to manage a team of their own. However, managers are rarely promoted simply because of their people skills or ability to engage a team.

This means that once you’ve clued them in on their team’s results they’re likely going to ask “what next?” Having a clear, easy-to-follow action plan filled with simple recommendations is the best way to ensure each manager is equipped with the knowledge and skills to resolve the challenges in their team.

Hold managers accountable for their team’s engagement

With managers accounting for up to 70% of the variance in team engagement across your organisation, holding them accountable for their team’s engagement metrics is just as important as monitoring their KPIs.

This means that no matter what actions you take at a top level, unless your managers are enabled to engage their teams you will likely see extremely differing results. Therefore, setting goals and measuring progress in their action plans is critical to help your managers succeed as you build out your strategy.

Learning & development

Not all employers have the time or resources to send their managers on a learning retreat or manager away day. Not to mention that while these sessions can be helpful for some managers, they can often address challenges that are highly relevant for some managers, and completely irrelevant to others.

So what’s the answer? Rather than scheduling broad training sessions or introducing a huge L&D platform that results in an overwhelming case of ‘Netflix Syndrome’, your managers need personalised training based on the needs of the individuals in their team.

Enabling your managers has never been easier

WeThrive ties all four of these areas together to ensure your line managers can view team-specific surveys to inform regular L&D, performance management and appraisals.

Our software enables managers to survey their direct reports whenever they feel the need to, identifying quick wins, performance gaps and wellbeing issues well before they become problems. HR also gets full oversight of the data and actions to support and coach managers to deliver results.

89% of our clients improve engagement after their first survey. Book a demo today to learn how.