Employee Engagement: Highlights

Employee Engagement - it's a hot topic, gaining momentum since the late 90's, a time when George, Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer were bidding us a fond farewell. Google, a fledgling corporation back in 1998, today returns a staggering 7 million hits for the search term "employee engagement".

What constitutes employee engagement and what are the merits of having an engaged workforce? A multitude of reports, articles, and studies try to answer these and other questions, with everyone from The Corporate Executive Board, The Society for Human Resource Management and MolsonCoors to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management weighing in, and media outlets such as ABC News and Bloomberg Businessweek keeping us in the know. Facts, figures, and internet anecdotes highlight the importance of an engaged workforce, the steps required to get there, and the perils facing organizations that aren't paying attention.

Here are some facts, figures, and anecdotes, taken from the Internet, to whet your appetite, advance your knowledge, or confirm what you suspected:
  • Employee engagement and retaining talent were the # 1 and # 2 most important issues in a recent study that looked at strategic HR concerns.
  • In terms of one definition, "employee engagement" is the increase in discretionary effort when employees feel passionately connected to their jobs.
  • Psychologists, anthropologists, economists, and physiologists have found the workplace an area of distinct interest, generating thousands of articles on employee satisfaction and engagement. Improving and managing the workplace is a formidable challenge.
  • The leading influence over employee engagement is often an employee's first line supervisor.
  • In a 2010 survey, email and a company's intranet were found to be the most common communication devices used to engage employees and encourage productivity. Nearly half of employers also communicate through instant messaging, Facebook, and Twitter, finding that, when effectively managed, social media can be a strong addition to an employee engagement strategy. Employer news and notes can promote and reinforce a positive culture. An ingrained form of communication with the younger generations, social media was adopted by IBM, an early convert to social media for employee engagement, keeping it in-house with the creation of BlueTwit and Social Blue. Nokia developed a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter and called it Socialcast.
  • James K. Harter, Ph. D.,Gallup's Chief Scientist of workplace management and wellbeing, notes that engaged employees are more, more, more...more profitable, more customer centric, more productive, safer and are 3.5 times more likely to be thriving in their own lives, as well are healthier and are improving lives as they improve the overall performance of their companies.
  • John Palguta, VP for Policy at the Partnership for Public Service, reminds us on Federal News Radio that communication is a huge issue when trying to engage your workforce. Wanting to better connect with employees, the newly appointed archivist at the National Archives created a YouTube video detailing why it was necessary to hear from the workforce and letting them know the best way to respond. The result of the initiative was much improved employee communication scores in the "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" survey.
  • The top performers in an organization are twice as likely to be highly engaged. Highly engaged employees also deal far better with organizational change.
  • In an effort to improve their workplaces and increase productivity, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has updated the Federal Viewpoint Survey (formerly the Federal Human Capital Survey) to gather data that will better help them listen to their employees by focusing on employee perceptions, which drives job satisfaction, commitment, and engagement ? drivers that ultimately promote the reaching of agency goals. A new Work/Life section was added to the survey. A "Blueprint for Results", a new initiative providing agencies with customized support, will drive organizational change through the use of the survey data.
  • The level of employee engagement and trust depends on the effectiveness of senior management - setting the strategic agenda - keeping the workforce clearly informed of direction, goals, and organizational performance - and being true to the organization's core values.
  • One way of assessing employee engagement is the idea of "per person productivity." What's the formula? Talent x (Relationship + Right Expectations + Recognition) = per person productivity.
  • Employee engagement effectively differentiates top performing organizations in a number of important measures:
    • +12% in customer ratings
    • +16% in profitability
    • -49% in turnover
    • -49% in safety incidents
    • -37% in absenteeism
  • Engaged employees at MolsonCoors were 5 times less likely than their non-engaged counterparts to have a safety incident, with a safety incident for an engaged employee costing the company $63 in 2002 while an incident for a non-engaged employee was $392. In ongoing employee engagement efforts, to fully engage their employees, the company is focusing on their commitment to leadership development, their commitment to employee education, and their commitment to providing superior communication to all employees.
  • The link between employee satisfaction and customer loyalty, which leads to profitability, was outlined in a Harvard study published in 1994.
  • The creation of a motivational culture in which human capital can excel is the cornerstone of engagement.
  • Watson Wyatt's study, USA 2000, identified engagement as a key metric in driving business success, increasing the value of the organization's brand, attracting talent and ensuring the retention of talent.
Well, from our perspective it's unanimous: the studies, reports, articles, videos, and testimonials, many quite passionate, draw the same conclusion - if an organization wants to maximize its financial performance, retain its top people, and be competitive, employee engagement strategies need to be implemented and then monitored. Human capital, an organization's greatest resource, needs to be heard. However, an organization needs to be open and willing to change before meaningful improvements can be made.

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