Why Do Leadership Development Initiatives Influence Employee Engagement?

An alarm is sounding in the world of HR. Traditional employee engagement strategies are faltering and it's clear that a drastic shift is needed.

Gallup's latest findings reveal a stark reality. Organizations that fail to innovate in their employee development strategies are witnessing not just a dip, but a significant plunge in engagement levels. Only 23% of employees strongly agree they are appropriately recognized for the work that they do. This isn't just a wake-up call—it's a call for transformative action.

Yet, amidst this challenging scenario, there's a silver lining. Unconventional approaches and best practices can turn the tide, catapulting your organization to an employee engagement rate of 72%, more than double the average.

It's time for HR leaders who want high employee engagement to break from the status quo. There’s a straightforward way to move your organization into the best-practice category and that’s by investing in developing your leaders.

Let’s delve into how leadership development directly impacts employee engagement levels.

Leadership Is Not a Position. It’s a Mindset.

Traditionally, leadership training and development was viewed as something exclusively for high-level executives. The presumption was that the most efficient way to allocate L&D resources was to train those at the top, and watch the results flow through the organization. 

Unfortunately, affording only an opportunity to a select few to receive personalized development did not have the intended effect. Development was indeed provided to the select few, but it never trickled down to the rest of the hierarchy.

It’s time to move past outdated methods. You should be using an employee coaching program rooted in inclusivity to empower team members across the board. 

Leadership is best viewed as a mindset. Whether they’re a Supervisor or a Vice President, anyone can exhibit leadership qualities based on their behavior and approach to work. Recognizing this potential pushes past the outdated beliefs, and allows you to cultivate a culture of engagement and collective responsibility.

A Holistic Approach Activates High Potential

You have amazing talent at all levels of your organization. Don’t underestimate it! Fostering a culture where all employees feel inspired to contribute to your overall success is an enormous differentiator for your talent management strategy and for your organization’s objectives as a whole.

According to research by Gallup, half of the employees in a typical organization are currently looking for a new job. Anything you can do to reduce that number amongst your own team will pay both short term and long term dividends. A sense of purpose can do wonders to help people recommit to your organization!

When you take an active approach to developing employees holistically, they feel more engaged, and you’ll reap the following benefits: 

  • Pride in the Organization: This emotional connection drives deeper engagement and commitment. 

  • Long-Term Intent: Engagement is more than a fleeting sentiment; it’s about envisioning a future with the organization.

  • Cultural Influence: Employees who feel more engaged contribute to and influence the broader organizational culture. 

When employees are given an active role in the change process, they are more engaged and committed. It’s not just about reactively responding to low results from an employee engagement survey. Instead, think about proactively shaping the culture by empowering employees to drive change. 

“We must shift to a mindset of enabling, not providing. Forward-thinking Learning & Development organizations are focusing on empowering and enabling employees to develop, not on providing all development opportunities themselves.”

Senior Research Analyst Heather Gilmartin Adams, HRM Asia

Think Ahead, Act Now: Trust Your Instincts About Your Organization

A common pitfall in leadership and employee coaching and development is conducting in-depth employee engagement surveys and then failing to follow up with timely, meaningful action. Organizations often spend months crafting surveys, analyzing results, and then communicating generic responses when they already had a pretty good idea ahead of time what deficiencies would be revealed.

This cycle leads nowhere. Ask yourself, is more data-gathering actually making an impact? Or are you creating the illusion of action? 

The reality is that surveys, while valuable, tend to validate your hypothesis about your employees. The key to effective change is anticipation and immediate action.  

So Why Do Leadership Development Initiatives Influence Employee Engagement?

By bucking the trends of the past that are rooted in developing only the highest-level members of an organization, you help foster meaningful engagement. Employees who feel respected treat their jobs with respect. They know there's a reason to invest in the company, because they feel the company is investing in them. 

Keep in mind that 59% of millennials say they find development opportunities extremely important when deciding whether to apply for a position. Trusting your team’s potential creates an inclusive, engaged, and dynamic work environment. 

Don’t forget about the 4 P’s of employee engagement: Purpose, Passion, Pride and Pay!

That trust, combined with swift and decisive action, ensures that employee engagement is not just another KPI but a tangible reality. That’s why these initiatives influence employee engagement.

Smart HR leaders have an intuitive sense of what employees feel is wrong with their organizations, so they can start planning for action long before the survey results come back. This readiness signals to employees that their voices are not just heard but are catalysts for real change. 

Here’s What HR Leaders Can Do:

  1. Anticipate Employee Needs: Regularly engage with employees at all levels to gauge their morale and expectations. Set up monthly focus group meetings with people from different levels to gather insights and address concerns early.

  2. Implement Immediate Actions: Develop a rapid response mechanism where HR can quickly act on feedback. 

  3. Create Clear Communication Channels: Ensure that feedback from employees is clearly communicated to decision-makers.

  4. Empower Employees with Roles in Change: Launch a 'Change Champion' program where selected employees from various teams are trained to drive and communicate change initiatives. This fosters a sense of ownership outside of their manager’s role.

These actionable steps help you get ahead of the challenge of employee engagement.

Start Using Leadership Development Initiatives To Improve Employee Engagement

Real improvement in employee engagement requires real action from HR professionals. Having an actionable approach fosters a sense where every employee from every corner of the organization feels they are part of something bigger.

Want to learn more about improving employee development with leadership initiatives?

At PILOT, we help organizations reframe their approach to employee growth, retention, and empowerment.

Book a demo today!


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