Two things in the news recently have concerned me a great deal. First, research on employee perceptions of employee engagement programmes shows that the majority of employees in Europe think that their employers see it as a ‘tick box’ exercise. Worse than that, a significant proportion of managers that actively survey their employees on engagement don’t actually review the results! This strikes me as inefficiency at its best – what a waste of time for everyone.

Second, stress is now the biggest cause of long-term sick leave in the UK. A knock on effect of the economic recession is that people are more stressed about more things than ever before – straitened financial situations, fear of redundancy, fear of openly voicing concerns about their workplace, the list goes on and on. And the cost of this to business when you take into account sick pay, negative impact on wider team morale and reduced productivity? Immense.

Why are employers not listening to their employees? If your employees are supported, engaged and motivated they will be more productive and loyal. To achieve this you have to listen to them and take action. This will result in improved bottom line. Surely it’s a no brainer? Apparently not.

This is one of the issues I feel most passionately about – and yes, I do mean that! Stress in the workplace has an impact on creativity, innovation and productivity. Employees don’t need to feel this stressed and it is within the employer’s power (and to their benefit) to address this – and do so quite simply.

Committing to an employee engagement programme from start to finish and investing in good line management training will reap dividends for every business. The evidence for this is plenty – this is not theory. Having an highly engaged workforce can improve operating income by 19.2% over 12 months and net income by 13.7%, whereas organisations with low employee engagement see operating income decline by a 32.7% and net income by3.8% over the same period. That’s a big impact on the bottom line.

Yet how can organisations effect this change? I believe it is the HR function that has the influence and responsibility to make a difference and make sure that employers are listening to their employees.