Research & Thought Leadership

Shades of Grey: An exploratory study of engagement in work teams

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Changing how we measure engagement in work teams

What does team engagement mean, and are traditional engagement surveys giving us the whole picture? Team building is often thought of in terms of opposites, with a team seen as either being engaged or not. Our research into barriers to team engagement challenges this approach. In what we believe is the largest UK study of its kind, researchers from Ashridge, supported by Oracle, worked with 195 participants from 28 teams across seven industry sectors. When comparing work teams, our findings suggest that there are ‘shades of grey’ when it comes to team engagement, rather than teams simply being either engaged or disengaged. We look at four different levels of team engagement. We also highlight the factors which matter to team engagement at all levels. Ensuring people are given challenging and varied work, working with trusted colleagues, and having a trusted team leader who leads by example are vital. These findings have been translated into a free online team diagnostic tool, explained in this report.

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