The statistics on South African employee engagement paints a bleak picture.  The facts are brutal.  The employee engagement numbers of South Africans are amongst the lowest in the world.  Numerous studies find that employees in South Africa work against their employer, rather than with their employer and this has been the case for the last two decades.  The numbers don’t change much, up in the one survey and then down in the next.  The reality is that the majority of employees in South Africa are disengaged at work.

Engagement is important, because engaged employees hang around in your business.  If they hang around, they build better relationships with customers and clients.  When this happens they get to know the needs of your customers and clients.  This leads to a better service, higher retention of customers and clients which then leads to higher turnover and profitability. 

Employee engagement is the strength of the relationship between the organization and the people they employ.  The stronger the relationship, the more employees act like organisational citizens.  This means they act as if they belong in the organisation and will volunteer the best of what they have to and for the cause of the organisation.  

But why do South African companies get it wrong?  It is not because of a lack of trying. We meet many HR heads and Executives who honestly try to get their engagement numbers up, but somehow it feels like a bottomless pit and they soon lose hope.  Here are some of the pitfalls we encounter:

  1. They use global analyses methodologies that are not contextualised.  These methodologies are somewhat helpful, but not always relevant.  The consultants are also trained to give you standardised answers for your scores and then leave you with suggestions to improve your scores.  This is then shared with divisional heads and they are left to their own devices. 
  2. Employees don’t trust internal surveys and are therefore not honest. Our research shows that over 70% of employees are afraid to answer honestly with internal surveys because they have been victimised previously for speaking their minds and therefore do not trust any internal feedback system. 
  3. They don’t know what they want to measure.  Many organisations do not define what they want to measure.  If you look at research, this is a fundamental flaw in various engagement surveys, the fact that they do not define employee engagement and therefore not clear on what they measure.  The majority of surveys focus only on the individual and neglect various institutional and team dynamics. 
  4. Engagement is not a strategic imperative.  Engagement is not a nice to have, it is the heartbeat of your organisation.  It is where everything starts.  If you want to keep all constituencies in your business happy, you need to make engagement a strategic must win battle.

If you want to improve the employee engagement in your business, you need to think about having an engagement partner.  Someone who can join you on this journey and do more than just an annual employee engagement survey with standardised solutions.  We at the Themba Thandeka Leadership Institute pride ourselves in the fact that we have assisted more than 90 organisations in considerably improving their employee engagement and in the process sustainably increase their profitability.  We are an Organisational Behavioural Consultancy specialising in Employee Engagement and we have the bespoke solution for your business.

Author and Contributor: Hermann Du Plessis – Founder & Director @ TTLI (LinkedIn Bio

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