CIPD – People Management

Employees are three times more engaged when they feel supported by managers, study shows
by Jasmine Urquhart 23 November 2022

Employees who feel well supported by their line manager are 3.4 times more likely to feel engaged at work, a study has found.

The study of 50,000 employees by Inpulse found that 81 per cent of those who felt trusted by their line managers were engaged, compared to 28 per cent of employees who didn’t.

The survey also revealed that employees feeling trusted and supported had the “greatest impact”  on how engaged people were at work. 

Clare Kelliher, professor of work and organisation at Cranfield School of Management, said the findings underlined the importance of line managers in employee engagement, and advised that organisations invest in their development. 

“Organisations need to invest in line manager training to help develop their people management skills and particularly how to demonstrate their trust in and respect for the employees they manage,” said Kelliher, she added that it is also key to foster a culture that is “conducive to employee voice” which focuses on employee wellbeing.

The survey found that the majority (80 per cent) of employees felt trusted by their line manager, and 83 per cent felt respected.

It also found that employees who felt supported by their line managers had an Engagement Index Score of 74 per cent, while those who did not had a score of 22 per cent.

Gemma McCall, chief executive and founder of Culture Shift, advised that managers need to encourage transparency in the workplace and take advantage of their ability to work closely with their employees. 

“My advice to line managers would be to empower your employees by encouraging a speak-up culture, which breaks down barriers and creates a safe space to share issues, should they arise,” said McCall, who added it is “important not to forget that line managers are in a “unique position to listen to colleagues, and implement real change for the whole team to benefit from”.

Anthony Painter, director of policy and external affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, said managers could make a difference for employees at all stages of their working lives, and that the “best managed” teams are fostered by a supportive culture where employees are encouraged to bring their best selves to work and take ownership of their development.

“Employers of all sizes and shapes – in business and in public services – need to equip their managers with the skills and behaviours they need in order to bring out the very best in their teams, including protecting their wellbeing on a day to day basis,” said Painter, adding that management, just like everything else,” is a skill set and one that needs to be taught and nurtured”. 

However, Isabel Collins, culture specialist and founder of Belonging Space, said that management training often falls by the wayside in organisations which has a direct impact on employees. 

“Too often managers are left unsupported, working from individual [ability] or copying leaders – for good or bad,” said Collins, who warned this would result in “an inconsistent and sometimes poor employee experience”.