Employee engagement is fast becoming top priority for many employers. Successful businesses understand that an engaged workforce is a key driver to enhanced productivity, innovation and competitive advantage. Failure to recognize this could put you at risk of losing your top talent to other more inviting job offers.  

The importance of line management in employee engagement

Employee engagement is fast becoming top priority for many employers. Successful businesses understand that an engaged workforce is a key driver to enhanced productivity, innovation and competitive advantage. Failure to recognize this could put you at risk of losing your top talent to other more inviting job offers. 

Although regular employee engagement surveys provide valuable insight into job satisfaction and expectations, there's a lot more that management can do. 

The 'Employee Turnover and Retention' study by the CIPD, groups the reasons as to why many employees choose to resign into two distinctive groups: 

The 'Pull' Factor: Sometimes it is the attraction of a new job or the prospect of a period outside the workforce which 'pulls' them. 

The 'Push' Factor: On other occasions they are 'pushed' (due to dissatisfaction in their present jobs) to seek alternative employment.


A poor relationship with your line manager can be a push factor behind an individual's decision to leave their job, but its significance can be masked as a result of the difficulties associated with exit interviews. 

A recent study by Henley Business School highlighted the factors employees identify as ways a line manager can affect engagement: 

  • By adopting a participative, facilitative and empowering management style - not controlling or micro-managing
  • By being approachable, available and open and willing to share thoughts and feelings
  • By giving ongoing, constructive, open, direct and timely feedback
  • By working with honesty, authenticity and competence
It's also worth considering ways that you can support line managers for engagement. This might include setting engagement-based targets for management which are linked to rewards. 

According to the same study, a lack of training, development and career opportunities were also major reasons why many employees resigned from their jobs. More companies are now adopting a workforce management approach as part of an integrated strategy to help them identify unutilized skills within the company and the best ways to develop them. 

It's better to view engagement with an ongoing approach, integrated within the practice of managing the organization and its people, rather than an add-on or discrete program. This approach will ensure a more engaged and productive workforce for 2010 and beyond.