ADP, one of the world’s top human resources software companies, recently conducted an employee engagement survey. The results are, to put it bluntly, pretty grim. But there is also some valuable insight to be gleaned from them.


According to ADP, only about 16 percent of all employees say they are “fully engaged” in the workplace. No, that’s not a typo. Just 16 percent. As I said: Pretty grim.


And of course, it raises an obvious question: What about the other 84 percent?


Team Leaders Drive EngagementHow Teamwork and Leadership Promote Engagement


Well, look at some of ADP’s supplementary findings and you’ll start to get a better sense of why some employees are engaged, and why so many really aren’t.


  • For starters, the ADP research shows that those employees who view themselves as part of a team are far more likely to be fully engaged. Actually, it’s not even close. Employees who identify as members of a team are 2.3 times more likely to say they’re engaged.
  • Another big factor? Having a team leader who inspires trust. The employees who say they trust their leader are 12 times more likely to say they are engaged!


It may also be worth noting that ADP found some pretty big fluctuations in engagement from one country to the next, but the U.S. is pretty close to average (about 17 percent of American employees say they are fully engaged).


Implications for Team LeadersImplications for Team Leaders


Again, the headline here is a little demoralizing: Only 16 percent of employees say they’re fully engaged? Really? It’s that low?


But the silver lining is that this research also provides leaders with some concrete ways they can make engagement better.


The two components seem to be:


  1. Helping employees view themselves are part of something bigger—not just lone wolves, but members of a team.
  2. Providing team leadership that inspires real trust.


When it comes to helping employees feel like they belong to a team, there’s much that could be said, but let me offer just one specific challenge: Make sure you’re showing each of your team members how their individual role plays into the bigger picture. Show employees how their work matters to the other team members, to the end customer, to the product, to the organization as a whole. That sense of playing a role in something greater is a big reason why teamwork leads to engagement.


As for how to provide your team with the right kind of leadership, ADP has some suggestions—and I think all of them are useful.


  1. Great leaders put a clear strategy in place for the team; they set a goal, and then offer a roadmap for reaching that goal.
  2. They connect goals and strategies to bottom-line business results.
  3. Trusted leaders ensure that employees all have access to the training they need.
  4. Leaders must be clear in the instruction they offer to their team members.
  5. Great leaders listen to the feedback they receive from their team members.
  6. They also provide management over day-to-day operations.
  7. They create a collaborative environment where everyone has a common purpose.
  8. They articulate and maintain group norms; high standards of excellence. (Think of this as your company “values,” maybe.)

Leadership is a Key Driver of Engagement


A lot of time and attention is given to the idea of boosting employee engagement. Sadly, if this research is to be believed, a lot of that effort is in vain. And yet there are some ways in which leaders can build engagement, especially when they focus on creating true team environments.


I’d love to tell you more about my own thoughts on boosting engagement. Let’s chat today! Connect at or call 888-267-6098.

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