Supervisors and Communication Most Influence Employee Engagement

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Research Foundation and Buck Consultants recently studied workplace factors to determine which most influence employee engagement.   

The survey found that an individual’s immediate supervisor and the amount of employee communication in an organization are the top two factors that affect employee engagement and workplace morale.  

Supervisors may influence engagement and morale positively or negatively; 44% of respondents stated that their supervisor strongly increased employee engagement, while 41% said supervisors strongly decreased employee engagement.  

86% of respondents indicated that the amount of employee communication had a moderate-strong influence on employee engagement. Other top contributors included a change in leadership (31%) and rewards/recognition programs (18%). Decreased employee engagement was blamed on poor morale (49%), poor management/leadership (48%), downsizing (38%), and change in leadership (26%). 

“One of the key findings of this year’s survey is that enhancing the organization’s culture and work environment has become the respondents’ highest ranked goal for employee engagement,” said Bob Carr, principal at Buck Consultants. “Organizations are committing themselves more deeply to effectively engaging their employees, knowing that this is the key to meeting their productivity, retention, and overarching business goals.”


Other key findings include: 

  • Creating a new culture or work environment (33%) was the most important goal identified by survey respondents, followed by increasing productivity (28%) and retaining top talent (26%) 
  • Emails (8%) and intranet (72%) are the most frequently used communication methods in the workplace for employee engagement followed by face-to-face communication (46%) and social media (16%)  
  • More than half the companies surveyed used blogs (69%), Twitter (58%), Facebook (57%), instant messaging (57%) and YouTube (53%) to communicate with their internal and external audiences 
  • More than 50 % of respondents said their organizations added content-sharing tools – including employee profiles/bios, news feeds, traditional blogs and various collaboration tools – to their intranets within the past five years  

"Another trend we're seeing is more common use of social media as part of an organization's employee engagement strategy," said Robin McCasland, chair, IABC Research Foundation and president, Brain Biscuits Strategic Communication. "The differences between internal and external communication are blurring, and organizations that communicate effectively through social media are finding that it enhances a positive workplace culture, supports employee engagement and reinforces a favorable external reputation." 

The third "Employee Engagement Survey" conducted by the IABC Research Foundation and Buck Consultants included nearly 1,000 communication professionals, representing a broad industry and geographic base.  The complete survey report is available here