According to the 2018 HR practices in Ireland survey, 81% of organisations across all sectors and industries have experienced skill shortage in the last 12 months. While there is a slight decrease compared to 2017, skill shortage remains a challenge for most employers. This is attributed to the shift in work patterns occasioned by changing demographics, changing skillset, increased labour mobility and a fast paced global world! In the Irish labour market, the shortage reflects the increased demand for certain skills, increase in job opportunities and voluntary employee turnover as the economy improves.

Amid a context of talent shortage, organisations are placing greater emphasis on improving and maintaining levels of employee engagement, as 54% of organisations surveyed revealed that employee engagement is the top strategic priority for HR. However, the role of line manager in fostering this engagement remains critical as 93% of organisations make use of a line manager open door policy. Seemingly, this has not proved very effective as the top three constraints of HR contribution to the business lies with line managers.  About two-thirds of respondents believe that line managers do not have the time to perform HR related activities, 42% of respondents identify a lack of development and support for line managers while 40% feel there is ineffective devolvement of HR to line managers. This suggests that line managers require additional support in order for organisations to deliver on their people management agenda.

People managers are the first point of contact with employees. They work closely with employees and manage day to day relationships. For this reason, they are critical to the delivery of the people agenda in the organisation. While HR hold the people strategy in line with the organisation’s strategy, the line managers bring these strategies to life through employee engagement. So where do we go from here? How do we get line managers on board?

Each organisation should have an employee engagement strategy, which must be well articulated and robust to capture the role of line managers and their impact on people and organisational development.  A well-articulated and robust employee engagement strategy will involve understanding your organisation’s brand, culture, values and goals, understanding your employees’ needs and aspirations, understanding the role line managers play and creating a fit. According to the UK MacLeod Review, Engage for success, leadership, line managers, employee voice and organisational integrity are the four key enablers that should be fundamentals of any employee engagement strategy.

The senior leadership must also recognise the crucial role of line managers in the people agenda and how it impacts on the business. This must be embedded in the overall organisational strategy and driven top-down. Also line managers’ KPIs and performance objectives must be reflective of their ability to engage employees in a way that impacts positively on productivity, engagement, employee satisfaction and organisational development.

Need help with your employee engagement strategy? Attend our one day programme on 28 February on Developing an employee engagement strategy. This one day programme provides you with the tools and techniques to develop and communicate an effective employee engagement strategy in your organisation.

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About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.