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Executive teams aren’t doing enough to engage employees

A study has revealed that UK businesses’ efforts to create great customer experiences are being hamstrung by employees who don’t buy into and engage with what the company is trying to achieve.

Almost two thirds of UK employees (64%) don’t feel their organisation has a clear purpose and the same percentage don’t understand what their brand stands for and what makes it different. At the same time, more than half (58%) don’t feel they play a part in shaping the future of the business and only 40% have confidence in the company’s senior leadership team.

Among those companies surveyed, this lack of engagement is married to poor attitudes around customer service: only a third of employees (32%) see those around them putting customers first in day-to-day decisions and a similarly low number (33%) believe their colleagues are good at understanding customer expectations.

The research among 1,200 employees working in UK-based organisations with more than 1,000 staff was commissioned by culture and engagement consultancy Dragonfish. It found that many employees feel disconnected from their business and brand and as a result are failing to meet its promise with their customers:

  • Only two in five employees (39%) say they’re motivated by the vision for the business.
  • 64% don’t believe their company exists for any reason other than making money.
  • Less than a third (30%) see those around them putting customers before their team.
  • Worryingly, only a third (33%) say their company does a lot to help them understand what customers need and expect.

Richard Webley, MD at Dragonfish, comments: “One of the executive team’s main jobs is to spend time understanding the links between their people, brands and customers, and then engage the workforce with what the business is trying to achieve. However it seems that increasingly there is a disconnection between senior leaders and employees at the coalface.

“The cost of this misalignment is more than a lost opportunity. Just look on sites like Glassdoor and you’ll see thousands of employees who simply don’t care – and that attitude is bound to rub off when they deal with customers. This can quickly hamper sales performance, particularly for large multi-site service businesses where a large proportion of staff interact with customers every day.”

He continues: “Our research shows that now more than ever, an organisation’s culture goes beyond four walls. In an age of social media and instant communication, if there’s something amiss with your organisation’s culture, the world’s going to know about it. That means employees, customers and potential customers too. These days, if your culture stinks, your customers will feel it. And probably tell you about it publicly.

“The opportunity for ambitious leaders is to consider the role their people and culture can play in building a trusted brand and a positive customer experience. We’ve found that organisations working on cracking their ‘culture code’ are unlocking untapped potential in terms of productivity, customer growth and financial performance alike.”

Dragonfish conducted the research survey among 1,200 full time employees who all work in UK based organisations employing more than 1,000 staff across multiple sectors, carried out in partnership with The Market Research Group, part of Bournemouth University.