One of the most insightful papers on the power of employee engagement was published back in 2004 by the Corporate Leadership Council, part of the Corporate Executive Board (

They called it ‘Driving Performance and Retention through Employee Engagement’.

It was the result of a global study of the engagement level of 50,000 employees and it measured the direct impact of employee engagement on both employee performance and retention.

Among its many insightful conclusions were:

  • The most important driver of employee engagement is one of relevance – ensuring a connection between an employee’s job and the organisation’s strategy.
  • Those employees who were most committed performed 20% better and were 87% less likely to leave.
  • More than 10% of employees were fully disengaged – actively opposed to something or someone in the organisation.
  • Emotional commitment is four times more valuable than rational commitment. Performance depends on the heart not the head.
  • An employee’s direct line manager is the single most important driver of emotional commitment.

My take-aways from this?

  1. Investing in leadership and management development is one of the best investments an organisation can make.
  2. Emotion trumps logic every time. Your leaders need to learn how to engage their people emotionally, not just rationally, if they wish them to perform at their best.
  3. Appropriate training / skills development is a ‘must have’ when it comes to organisational change. Your organisation needs leaders who know how to lead change and employees who are ready to embrace change. Without both of these critical components, your next change or strategy is most likely doomed to be one of the 88% that fail.