Want to engage your people better? Focus on the local environment

Employee Engagement

Historically, organisations have placed a strong emphasis on their company strategy, purpose, vision and values to better engage their people. This often went hand-in-hand with visionary leadership – painting a picture of the future that inspires and motivates people whilst providing a clear plan of how to get there. 

However, what has become more and more evident over recent years is that engagement is predominantly driven at a local level, largely formed by the relationship people have with their colleagues and line manager. Results from Inpulse surveys since the start of 2024 show that the dominant reasons behind why people feel positive about working at their organisation were related to their local working environment; enjoyment of their role/work, good relationship with their colleagues, and feeling supported and valued by their line manager. 

I get it, we’re all super busy and it is much easier to create a vision statement and/or set of values than it is to truly embed them to become a reality across the business (our experience is this takes years). However, the cost of attracting and retaining employees is too high to ignore this – if you want to truly engage your people then it is essential that you focus your efforts on the local environment. 

As a starting point, here are three ways you can better engage your people at a local level:

  1. Invest in your local line managers: Whilst there is no silver bullet to employee engagement, if there was one thing that had the greatest influence then it would be the line manager. They set the culture at a local level and are key to people feeling supported and listened to at work. Invest in training and development for your line managers, with the main focus on human skills (active listening, recognition, feedback, empathy).
  • Build connections within teams: Create opportunities for people to build relationships with other people in their team. This could be formal team-building activities, as well as informal social events, offsite retreats, or team lunches. Ensure leaders and managers also attend so they have a chance to build relationships with people in a more relaxed and informal environment.  
  • Invest in the physical working environment: As Jacob Morgan defines, the physical workspace is “what people can see, touch, taste, and smell”. It’s more than just the décor and furniture, it is also the office layout, demographics of the people, and facilities (canteen, on-site gym, coffee machine etc.). The physical space can irritate or inspire your people so it is worth considering how you can use this to create an environment that reinforces your culture and emphasises that you value your people.

Whilst the company strategy, purpose, vision and values are necessary, they mean very little to people if they don’t feel cared for, invested in, and listened to at work – which requires compassionate leadership and creating a positive environment in their local workplace.

As widely reported, Gen Z are looking for authenticity and integrity from their consumer brands and employers, therefore it is even more important to them that the company values and behaviours aren’t simply words on the wall and are felt in the lived experience of employees within their day-to-day context (local). This sounds obvious I know, but you’d be surprised how many organisations devise an inspirational vision statement or develop motivational values and behaviours yet don’t allocate the necessary energy and resources to embed these effectively. 

For more information on this, contact Lucie at lucie@inpulse.com.

Master Engagement Throughout the Employee Lifecycle