Just who’s responsible for employee engagement?

It’s a question we have been asked countless times and it is an intriguing one.

One of the easiest ways to think about this question is to consider the following:  Are your employees responsible for their own engagement?

Employees cannot be solely responsible for their own engagement at work.  To consider they are misses the point entirely.  Do you go to work each day and think ‘Hmm, I think I’ll be engaged today, I’ll give that little extra, I’ll go that extra mile…?’  Probably not!

Whether a person is engaged or not is not a conscious decision, this happens almost unwittingly and certainly subconsciously.  This is why employee engagement cannot be down to employees.

So, the answer is: the organisation takes responsibility.

As an organisation what you can do is create an environment where engagement can thrive – where employees naturally, without coercion, are more productive, more innovate, better advocates and (in our view more importantly) become healthier individuals as a result.

An organisation must ensure that their people feel genuinely valued, it is clear what they do contributes to a bigger picture and that things are fair and equitable.  Where the work is challenging and stimulating and where the rewards for hard work are shared amongst everyone.

You cannot mandate or force employee engagement – you cannot dictate that some or all of your workforce must be engaged – it quite simply doesn’t work that way.

How does an organisation go about creating that environment?

Here, the person at the top of the organisation (CEO or MD) needs to take an active role and not just pay lip service.


If the CEO or MD sets the correct tone, behaviours and approach then those will permeate through the organisation.  You don’t need employee engagement initiatives; you don’t need to invest millions in expensive engagement programmes; you simply need to take responsibility and show others how it should be done.

As Eisenhower once said ‘You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.’

Note:  I suspect there might be one or two extolling the view that managers have a role in employee engagement (they do!).  We’ll explore the role of line managers regarding employee engagement in our next blog.

Learn more about our employee engagement approach and how we can help drive up engagement levels within your organisation by calling us for an informal chat on 01255 850051 or drop us an email via our contact us page.