I know it’s been a while since I’ve put out a “101” post, but I’m back with some more! In case you missed the last 101 post from me (Courtney), you can read it here. So the topic for today’s post is employee engagement. I choose this topic not because I am recently engaged and I like the sound of the word, but because a few months ago I read an article in Human Resources Executive magazine that I haven’t been able to shake. The last several years’ results from the “What’s Keeping HR Up at Night?” survey all yielded similar results. The most popular response: “ensuring employees remain engaged and productive.”
“There is no greater challenge than the need to have high-performing, engaged employees and effective leaders to deliver on a business strategy,” said Rebecca Ray, Executive Vice President of the Knowledge Organization and Human Capital Practice lead at the New York-based Conference Board. With the upturning economy, it is crucial for employers to retain and develop key talent. Why is employee engagement even a concern, you might be thinking? According to the Hay Group, workers who are actively engaged were found to be 43% more productive. Now, that’s good for the bottom line!
So…what is employee engagement?
No, it’s not encouraging your employees to partner up and commit to a life of wedded bliss or whatever. Employee engagement can be defined using the following questions: Do your employees know why they do what they are asked to do? Do they like it? Do they contribute? Do they feel their contributions matter or are impactful? Do they know what your company stands for? Do they trust management? Do they feel valued? Do they feel productive? Are there growth opportunities? Do they have pride in the company and what they do? According to the “What’s Keeping HR Up at Night?” survey, 50% of respondents claim that their employees are only somewhat engaged. Almost 20% said their current state of moral and engagement was weak.
What are other companies doing to get and keep employees engaged?
54% of respondents are “increasing employee communications”. The key here is not necessarily increasing the QUANTITY of employee communications, but rather the CONTENT or QUALITY of the communications. Too many emails flooding inboxes, just get deleted without ever being understood, or even read! Explain the “whys” of the information you are sending to employees and the “hows” of the effect on employees.
A recent Forbes article named communication, along with consistency and combat as the means to achieving employee engagement. Leaders should be consistent, ask what employees think of initiatives, policies, etc., and combat the rumor mill by informing the “why” behind decision-making.
Employee communication isn’t limited to email either. Social media is providing a modern and easy way to promote communication with employees. Other “old-fashioned” (but highly effective!) methods such as town hall meetings or small group sessions provide a more personal connection. We are also seeing technology step into this gap with broadband access enabling video interviewing, virtual town halls, virtual collaboration, etc.
What prevents employees from being engaged?
AtTask’s 2014 State of Work study showed that employees aren’t engaged for several reasons:
- Enterprise workers use only 45% of their time on their primary job duties.
- 59% enterprise workers say wasteful meetings get in the way of their productivity.
- 63% of enterprise workers often feel there are “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
- 64% say there is often confusion at their company about who’s doing what.
- 81% experience conflict with other departments, groups or teams, and 39% cite lost productivity among the most common consequences of such conflicts.
Where’s the HR Technology?
Tying employee engagement back to HR Technology (duh, this is an HR Technology blog!) there are several systems that address employee engagement. Social sites such as Yammer, foster communication in a corporate social media format. Recognition platforms, like Achievers, YouEarnedIt, Kudos and Gratzi, are also a way to increase engagement and morale through instant feedback and peer recognition. Talent Management systems claim to help with engagement through their performance management modules. Instant feedback and more actionable feedback have shown to result in higher engagement rates. Other considerations that help attract, retain, and engage employees include flexible scheduling, green initiatives, improving productivity, and lowering costs─ all of which are features many HR technology systems can address.
So, how engaged are you? What about the rest of your employees? How do you keep them engaged? Share your tips with us!