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Staff engagement

Staff engagement is seen as important because the more engaged an employee is, the more likely they are to apply the extra "discretionary effort" that leads to high performance. There is evidence for this, with a number of studies finding a relationship between staff engagement and organisational performance, in both the public and private sectors[8]. Given this evidence, it is not surprising that agencies regularly survey their staff to gauge their level of engagement.

Information on department results from staff engagement surveys were collected as part of the HRC survey for the first time last year. The goal is to better understand how engagement results vary across agencies over time, and how these results relate to improved department performance.

It will take time to develop this kind of understanding of the staff engagement data. One issue that will need to be resolved is the extent to which staff engagement results can be compared across agencies. There are complications in this regard. First, agencies use different providers to survey staff engagement and results are not easily comparable across the different methodologies. Second, agencies survey staff engagement with differing levels of frequency – currently only around a third of Public Service agencies carry out these surveys annually.

However, all 29 Public Service agencies have carried out at least one staff engagement survey over the past three years. Of these:

  • 16 agencies used Kenexa (IBM)
  • 10 agencies used Gallup
  • 2 agencies used Winsborough
  • 1 agency had developed an internal staff engagement survey.

Figure 5.1 shows how the median aggregate engagement score across all Public Service agencies that use Gallup has increased since 2008. Over this same period, Gallup engagement scores have tended to increase across the wider State Sector and worldwide. However, the increase for Public Service agencies has been stronger, and staff engagement is now far closer to the worldwide median, than for other State sector agencies.

Figure 5.1 Gallup aggregate engagement scores by sector, 2008-09 to 2014-15

Figure 5.1 Gallup aggregate engagement scores by sector, 2008-09 to 2014-15

We do not have data for Public Service agencies who use Kenexa before 2012. Between 2012-13 and 2014- 15 the median aggregate engagement score for these agencies increased by 0.5%. The increase over the same period for agencies using Gallup was 2.3%.

[8] Good summaries of the relationship between staff engagement and organisational performance can be found in chapter two of Engaging for Success: Enhancing Performance through Employee Engagement, a 2009 report to the UK Government and the follow-up 2012 report: The Evidence: Employee Engagement Task Force "Nailing the evidence" workgroup.

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