Employee engagement remains anemic. Here are nine ways to fix it!

During the past weeks, we have seen headlines declaring continued anemic scores for employee engagement. Other headlines have predicted small base pay increases for 2016.

TINYpulse, the B2B employee survey company published the results of their latest employee engagement survey for high tech workers. Only 19% of respondents gave strongly positive answers when asked about their happiness on the job. Just 17% of employees felt valued at work. Only 28% knew their company’s vision, and 47% said they have strong relationships with their coworkers. [i]  Sadly, this matches the survey results from Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce Report, 2013 regarding employee engagement. This survey found that only 13% of the global workforce is engaged at work, 64% is not engaged, and 24% are actively disengaged

Recent surveys of employers have shown that pay raises will hold steady at 3% in 2016, with the best performers getting an average increase of 4.6%.[ii]  Towers Watson recently released its 2015 General Industry Salary Budget Survey for the US, and it shows that bonuses and short-term incentives are playing a larger role in encouraging employee retention. Short-term bonuses, however, can’t carry the employee engagement burden alone.

Studies have consistently shown that companies with a HIGHLY engaged work force have lower turnover as well as employees who contribute more discretionary effort. These companies have nearly three times higher operating margins and five times higher shareholder returns over five years than companies with low employee engagement.

What drives employee engagement?

Factors like challenging work, achievement, professional growth and development, accomplishment, recognition, and increased responsibility drive employee engagement. Although a hip office, nice working conditions, friendly workers and base pay competitive to industry standards are important, they do not create employee engagement. Job motivators do!

Here are nine ways your company can significantly increase the engagement of your work force:

  1. It all begins with executive communication! Transparent, trustworthy executives communicate compelling business strategies to their workforce and provide regular updates! At least 90% of your workforce should be able to clearly articulate your company’s vision and business strategies so that they know how to contribute to your organization’s success.
  2. Employees want to work for principled winners. They need to believe that they will be treated fairly and recognized for their contributions. Your employees don’t want to submit to brown nosing and debilitating organizational politics.
  3. Employees should be in jobs that play to their strengths and enable them to do compelling work. Make sure your recruiting and job placement systems correctly identify the attributes needed for job success. Then, match employees to positions where they can shine.
  4. Peer collaboration is key. Create a culture that supports employee collaboration. The most engaging corporate cultures promote teamwork, resulting in higher innovation and experimentation with new products and services.
  5. Leaders should be “Builders.” Builders align their teams with the organization’s purpose and strategies and constantly provide clarity on goals, roles, responsibilities and operating norms. They empower their teams and take an active interest in employee development.
  6. Accelerate the careers of your highest performers. Your best performers make a significant contribution to company performance. Make sure you have HR systems in place that identify your top 20% performers. Then, actively mentor them and accelerate their careers.
  7. Cerate a learning organization. Employee learning begins with an onboarding program that makes a great first impression and supports new hire success. An effective onboarding program will introduce new hires to their stakeholders, set 30, 90 and 180 day goals, and provide training and mentoring that helps new employees learn how to use organizational systems and processes to get work done. Then, provide ample training and mentoring for other critical attributes that drive job, process and business results.
  8. Provide a flexible work environment. 78% of all job seekers review a company’s website for flexible work arrangements before deciding whether or not to apply for an open position. Studies consistently show that flexible work environments increase productivity, improve morale and save costs. With flexible work arrangements, employees can more productively use technology, space and time to do their work. They can more easily manage their stressful work life integration, and they are more motivated to exceed organizational goals and expectations.
  9. Increase employee recognition and advancement. Many workers are disappointed with the slow raise in pay, given the steadiness of the US economic recovery and the health of corporate balance sheets. Although competitive pay and incentives practices are an important factor in attracting and retaining employees, especially in tight labor markets and for the most skilled, higher pay alone doesn’t lead to higher levels of employee engagement. What does lead to employee engagement is manager and peer recognition for achievements, clear development feedback, and career advancement.

Is employee engagement a major concern in your organization? How have you increased it?

Victor Assad is a strategic human resources consultant and executive coach who works with key decision makers and human resources leaders on talent management, accelerating change, leadership development, and other strategic initiatives, such as mergers and acquisitions, strategy implementation, and flexible workplace. Contact Victor for a free one-hour strategy session on how to improve employee engagement at victorassad6@gmail.com. Visit Victor’s website at http://www.victorhrconsultant.com to download free whitepapers and read more of his blog posts!

[i] Dora Wang (August 19, 2015, 9:37 PM) “The State of Employee Engagement in Tech,” TINYpulse, Found at https://www.tinypulse.com/blog/the-state-of-employee-engagement-in-tech.

[ii] Stephen Miller (August 11, 2015) “Short Term Incentives Are Playing Larger Retention Roles. Bonuses still are only part of an effective value proposition,” Society of Human Resources Management. Retrieved from http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/compensation/articles/pages/incentives-retention.aspx.

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