barriers to engagement

Australian research finds engagement levels reflect organisational size, being higher in micro businesses than in large businesses. Engagement issues generally arise when companies reach around 20 employees, where there are just "too many people to take to the pub at once."

SMEs may be concerned about how to develop effective engagement, how much it might cost, or even fear losing control or feeling “the risk of listening is you may hear things you don’t want to hear”.


A major concern for employers wishing to improve engagement is uncertainty about how to enable the conditions for engagement to flourish. They are not helped by ‘disengaging practices’ which act as barriers, including ‘territorial’ and ‘comfort-zone’ issues. Poor leadership and management play their part, often based on an outmoded view that the only motivator of people is pay.

One of the biggest barriers to increasing employee involvement is middle management buy-in, probably because performance measurements for middle managers are often based on team outcomes rather than employee morale. This raises the uncomfortable but unavoidable question of whether middle managers have the competencies to increase employee involvement and engagement, and underlines the need to ensure that organisational commitment to communication and participation is reflected in effective line manager training. It also highlights the need for Australian businesses to devise a plan to enhance their employee engagement strategy by developing middle management capabilities.

While there are no quick-fix, silver bullet, one-size-fits-all solutions, it is clear that fully engaged leaders and managers are the crucial ingredient for successful employee engagement.

more articles about: employee engagement