Can Supporting your Managers Improve your Engagement Levels?

Most employees (77%) aren’t engaged, accounting for $8.9 trillion in lost productivity worldwide. But employee engagement is driven more by great managers than by countries’ labor policies or job markets.

Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2024 

Recent research from Gallup indicates that 77% of people are disengaged at work. Over 70% of that is down to managers. People disengage from work if they are feeling disconnected from their manager – and they are more likely to actively seek a job elsewhere, or alternatively stay where they are and do the bare minimum.

In order for people to engage at work, they need to feel connected and safe with the people they depend on – their close colleagues and in particular, their manager. There is a large body of research on the importance of psychological safety and trust, but disconnections can happen quickly and easily. A certain tone of voice, a look, perceived mistrust, perceived lack of appreciation…there are so many possible misunderstandings and miscommunications, no two people working together are going to get along brilliantly all the time. It is not the disconnection that matters therefore; so much as how these disconnections are dealt with and whether those involved have the skills to repair the relationship before further damage is done.

As human beings, we are wired for social connection. Relationships are critical to our survival and wellbeing. When we feel disconnected from someone close, someone we depend on (at work this means our manager and our close colleagues), our brain begins to go into panic mode. The emotional centre in the amygdala is activated. In practical terms, what this means is that the emotional brain overrides our rational, logical thinking part of the brain (pre-frontal cortex), so it’s easy for us to lose our sense of reason. The reasoning part of the brain cannot override the amygdala, but the amygdala can override almost every other part of the brain. When we feel disconnected, we may experience overwhelm, stress, anxiety, even panic. What that can look like on the outside is often either anger, frustration and irritation, or a coldness, withdrawal, shut-down. If the other person didn’t know there was a problem before now – they’re likely to feel triggered at this point and experience disconnection too. Now you’ve got 2 people feeling disconnected and experiencing negative emotions. This can impact mood, behaviour, communication, and crucially for the workplace – ability to focus, make decisions, collaborate….i.e. performance and productivity.  Gallup’s latest meta-analysis shows that teams in the top quartile of employee engagement achieve 23% higher profitability than those in the bottom quartile. Furthermore, businesses with more engaged employees have been shown to be more resilient in turbulent and uncertain environments.

“Measuring and monitoring employee engagement is crucial: Three decades of Gallup research have demonstrated a strong association among engagement, the quality of managers and critical business outcomes.”

So what makes a “great manager”? How can managers grow employee engagement?  Their role of inspiring people has never been more urgent; but managers too are disengaged. 3 in 10 managers globally are engaged in their jobs – only slightly higher than non-managers. More managers report feeling anger, sadness and worry daily, and they experience as much stress and loneliness as non-managers.

Clearly, if engaged managers inspire higher team engagement; and higher team engagement is good for business; we need to focus on supporting managers so that they can better support their people. If we want to improve workforce engagement, we must first prioritize managers.  A promising approach to helping managers both resolve team relationship distress and nurture effective interpersonal functioning is the Emotional Connection Process (EmC), a manualized, empirically supported approach that is strongly focused on repairing team attachment bonds. The EmC approach brings neuroscience and attachment theory into alignment, allowing us to learn the language of emotions and articulate emotional responsiveness. Whenever disconnection occurs in a relationship, a negative cycle usually ensues. The EmC process facilitates the building and repairing of emotional bonds so that employees can feel safe to be authentically themselves and work to their potential. This approach offers a structured process for building leaders’ emotional attunement, empathy and communication – thereby supporting managers to improve engagement.

If you would like to learn more about boosting engagement among your workforce by coaching and training your managers, get in touch today, email [email protected].

More information about the EmC approach can be found on or you can watch information webinars on the topic on


“3 Key Insights Into the Global Workplace” by Jim Harter, Gallup Workplace June 12,

2024 “Engage Your Workforce by Empowering Your Managers First” by Jim Harter, Gallup Workplace, June 12,2024.

Gallup “State of the Global Workplace” June 2024.