Employee Engagement: An Action Plan

Last week, I presented a webinar – hosted by Saba – that focused on employee engagement and what motivates individuals to stay with their employer. Engagement is a popular topic since most business leaders recognize the value of a highly engaged workforce. It sounds simple … communicate and engage with your employees regularly so they want to work hard and won’t leave. But the reality, for most companies, is that engagement is complex and an employee’s perception can differ greatly from their employer’s perception. This disconnect is something that I discussed with Trish McFarlane last week on Brandon Hall Group’s HCMx Radio show. According to Brandon Hall Group’s just-completed 2014 Employee Engagement Study, 70% of companies state that engagement is a priority, yet over 60% of employees do not actively participate in these activities. Something is not working.

So, what can companies do to figure out what is truly driving engagement? What action plan should they use to foster a culture of engaged workers? Here are some tips from our recent research on employee engagement:

  • Create a Culture of Recognition: By focusing on recognition, companies can help to boost employee engagement. In fact, recognition was cited as the most valuable tool for engaging employees over engagement surveys, wellness programs, and coaching and mentoring. Unlike traditional incentive programs that strengthen employee satisfaction for the short-term, a culture of recognition ensures that employee engagement levels are sustainable for the long-term. It requires companies to think about recognizing employees’ contributions continuously and not just at one point in time. Recognition should also include peer-to-peer initiatives where the power of relationships can help to drive engagement levels. Recognition — more than any other tool — is what can motivate employees and make them feel appreciated.
  • Integrate with Talent Management: Employee engagement is at the heart of any integrated talent management strategy. Over the past decade, organizations have been embracing integrated talent management as a way to share data, consolidate systems and motivate employees. Recruitment, development, and retention become simpler when employees are consistently engaged through every stage of the employee lifecycle. Companies should consider their talent management strategies and also the technology they are leveraging.
  • Link Engagement and Productivity: Productivity is not a result of the number of hours spent in an office; it is a result of employee engagement. Productivity is measured by the ratio of the volume of output to the volume of input and typically incorporates hours worked, number of employees and project timeframes. The link between engagement and productivity is inherent. If employees are engaged in their work, they will feel a greater obligation to increase their production.
  • Invest in Technology: Companies should consider technology to enable engagement such as wellness and recognition but also their existing talent management technology. Solutions such as onboarding, learning management, and even performance management can all have a positive impact on engagement levels.

Madeline Laurano, VP and Principal Analyst,
Talent Acquisition, Brandon Hall Group

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Madeline Laurano