Employee Engagement: A Business Imperative

A relatively new term, employee engagement is the principles and policies by which an organization or company “engages” its workers to improve productivity, creativity and loyalty. Engagement can take the form of feedback, career development or strong leadership.

Engagement experts seem to concur on the top 15 ways to best engage workers. Their advice includes:
  • Onboarding experience
  • Offer clear lines of sight or alignment
  • Feedback/communication
  • Feeling of community
  • Opportunities for job advancement
“The measure of engagement has been constant over the last couple of years,” says Ilene Gochman, consulting director of Chicago-based Towers Watson & Co.

Gochman cites three areas to measure engagement: the “head or rational,” what direction a company has charted; the “emotional,” the pride and connection of working at a company; and the “motivational” or, as she puts it, “whether you are jumping out of bed on a Monday morning ready to do any assignment.”

“What we see are [employees] that are getting increasingly optimistic,” Gochman adds. “Does a company offer long-term opportunities, employee development and career path? Those areas took a big hit in 2009.”

Yet firm answers to whether employees remained engaged during the recession and subsequent rebound seem elusive.

According to a study by Philadelphia-based Right Management, the outplacement services division of recently rebranded ManpowerGroup, 84 percent of the more than 1,400 North American workers polled in late 2010 “intend to actively seek a new position” this year. The number was 60 percent a year earlier, according to Right Management.

“As companies lost personnel, there were very high levels of worker productivity but now there’s a drop-off because people are just burnt. There was only so long people could sustain that,” Wilkins says.

And when employees think they’ve reached their breaking point—either psychologically or at their job—they look for a change.

If 84 percent of employees truly are thinking about finding a new job, it behooves companies to engage the people with the creativity and ability to contribute to an organization for years to come.

In other words, poor engagement plays a big role in their departure.

Perhaps the most extensive recent study was BlessingWhite’sEmployee Engagement Report 2011. Published in December 2010, researchers contacted HR and line leaders and conducted an online survey that drew 11,000 responses from around the world.

Among the report’s findings:
  • Thirty-one percent of employees are engaged and 17 percent are disengaged.
  • More employees are looking for new opportunities outside their organization than three years ago.
  • Employees worldwide view opportunities to apply their talents, career development and training as the top drivers of job satisfaction.
  • Trust in executives can have more than twice the impact on engagement levels than trust in immediate managers.
BlessingWhite’s study notes, “Executives aren’t getting the basics of performance right. Creating an environment that supports high performance … received the least favorable response in the entire survey.”

Source: Workforce Management Online