Emerging themes from brand new research into team engagement was shared at the Engage for Success ‘thank you event’ held for it’s volunteers last week.

Dr Amy Armstrong, Mez Fokeer and Siobhan Victoria Renshaw took to the stage at the Thomson Reuters conference hall to share what was described as ‘Illusions of Engagement’

Actual vs Self-Identified Levels of Employee Engagement

The teams studied were largely identified through their employee engagement scores. However Dr Armstrong indicated that “upon scratching the surface a different reality was often revealed”. With some high scoring teams demonstrating their satisfaction but not engagement. For example at interview one participant described the team as “happy because they only had 4 hours of work to do in an 8 hour shift”.

Sometimes the terms ‘satisfaction’ and ‘engagement’ are used interchangeably. Although they are related there is a distinction to be made between the two – engagement being an active state and related to productivity and innovation. Satisfaction being a more passive state and related to retention. It is also important that Employee Engagement is clearly distinguished from the other end of the spectrum – work addiction.

The research team described the tendencies of engaged and disengaged teams:

Engaged Teams Tend To….

  • Use collective language such as ‘we’ and ‘our’ when referencing team members
  • Are outward looking – interested in each other’s work and the interconnections between their individual objectives
  • Have a ‘growth mindset’ – a belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work
  • Accept healthy debate and some conflict as an inevitable part of robust and effective working practices
  • Are solution focussed – proactively innovating and coming up with better ways of working



Disengaged Teams Tend to:

  • Use distancing language such as ‘them’ and ‘they’ when making reference to team members
  • Are inward looking – focussed on their own work in isolation
  • Have a ‘fixed mindset’ – a belief that traits like talent and intelligence are fixed and cannot be changed
  • Shy away from controversial discussions either pretending there is no conflict, being polite or ‘agreeing to disagree’ rather than discuss and resolve issues as they arise
  • Are problem focussed – focussing on what is wrong rather than what can be done about it

This research is ongoing and these are by no means the final say on the matter. Conclusions are due in the spring/summer of 2017.

Still Time To Participate In The Research

More organisations taking part are needed in particular from the public sector. If you would like to understand how engaged your team really is then please contact Mez Fokeer. Confidentiality is assured, and you would get the benefit of the results of the research as well as thank you event which will provide great networking opportunities.

Building On Prior Research

This research is a sequel to the equally fascinating Engagement Through CEO Eyes published in 2013 which explored engagement through the eyes of 16 UK CEOs.

When asked what stops leaders from engaging with engagement, three barriers emerged:

  • Shortcomings in leadership capability that hinder engagement, such as poor self-awareness on the part of leaders.
  • The leader recognises that they may be a potential barrier to engagement. Traits such as leader pride may lead to disengaging leadership behaviours.
  • The culture and system in which UK business operates is seen as antithetical to engagement, such as organisational hierarchy, or the drive for short-term results.

Get Involved

This extremely successful event attended by over 80 volunteers included talks and activities by a number of leading thinkers in the field of employee engagement was organised by secondee Anne Wilsdon. It is a prime example of one of the many benefits of being a part of this vibrant community.

I also enjoyed seeing so many women rock the stage, sharing their wisdom and leadership in this area.

If you are interested in volunteering within the movement there are opportunities whether you have just a few minutes or a few hours per month to spare, your contributions will be greatly valued. To find out more or to explore the topic of employee engagement more deeply visit www.engageforsuccess.org