The engagement trends that you need to know

John Sherman

One of the most significant business trends to keep an eye on in 2017 is employee engagement. As we've seen in Deloitte’s comprehensive Human Capital Report, employee satisfaction is more important than ever when it comes to the stability of an organization. In fact, according to their findings, 48% of survey respondents found that this was a very important issue. According to the authors of the report, employee engagement is now a CEO level concern with 9 out of 10 executives rating engagement as an important or very important priority.

Engagement is an aspect of workplace culture that should be monitored regularly – almost like a heartbeat. The more engaged that your teams are, the more likely you will be to retain your talent and maintain your competitive edge. On the other hand, if you adhere to policies that prevent your employees from being engaged then you will see a higher rate of turnover and serious productivity issues.

The Human Capital Report identifies three main factors that are driving companies to allocate more resources on engagement:

  1. Increasing competition for Millennial talent
  2. A continued need to attract workers with tech and highly specialized skill sets
  3. An increased degree of transparency in the workforce

There’s another factor that’s driving our dependence on engagement and that is an ever-increasing degree of diversity in today's workforce. HR departments are now in charge of managing workers that come from as many as five generations, as well as global teams that are made up of a wide variety of individuals from very distinct backgrounds.

Just as we are seeing a workforce that’s increasingly diverse in gender, ethnicity, culture, and sexual orientation, we are also seeing more and more employees working at home and on a contract basis. Unfortunately, despite this high degree of diversity the researchers at Deloitte have found that only 11% of companies are considered “highly inclusive” work environment and 47% are guilty of possessing cultural barriers that prevent them from using part-time talent.

Perhaps the most telling statistic is that only 4% of the surveyed companies consider themselves as good at engaging the Millennial's on their teams.

Employees are now looking for flexibility, the opportunity to be creative, and to work that matters. In the past, a dependable paycheck and the opportunity for advancement might have been enough. However, modern generations are asking themselves some serious existential questions before they commit to a company.

All of this means that organizations are going to be relying on a new type of leadership. The best companies will be hiring and cultivating leaders who empower their teams and provide the support and communication to keep employees engaged.

Engagement is more important than ever for another reason: employees now have more options than ever. All it takes is a quick search on LinkedIn or any social media recruiting site and an employee will have access to a wide variety of job opportunities. This means that companies need to find new ways to make their work seem meaningful and significant to their people (if they want to keep them!)

New Tools and New Opportunities 

There are now new tools that companies can use to evaluate employee engagement and obtain anonymous feedback. This means that all employees have the opportunity to give their opinion about management, executives, corporate culture, and more…all on an almost real-time basis.

This opportunity to evaluate the pulse of your company gives management the opportunity to optimize for what is working and eliminate that which is holding the company back.

This new continuous feedback methodology is completely disrupting the old model of evaluating engagement. The Human Capital Report gives several key examples where companies have put these strategies to use and how it’s resulted in serious benefits.

Unfortunately, not all companies have been so quick to embrace the new trends. In fact, the majority of the surveyed executives reported that their company does not measure employee engagement at all. This means that far too many organizations are experiencing a serious disconnect with their people.

According to the Human Capital Report, the following are a few ways to improve your engagement:

Redefine engagement

This means more than making your company a great place to work. It means giving your leadership the responsibility to cultivate a sense of meaning with the work.

Create a sense of passion, purpose, and mission

These things make up an important part of the “glue” that will hold your teams together. Workers who have a sense of meaning will work better together and stick around longer.

Connect compensation to engagement

This is one of the most powerful ways to make sure that your employees stay engaged. When you connect compensation to your team’s level of engagement than you will see a higher degree of accountability and achievement.

Start using the “stay” interview

While many organizations use exit interviews, not enough of them choose to use “stay” interviews. This strategy helps you find out exactly what it takes to keep your employees happy and loyal to your organization.

Make sure your engagement strategy is “always on”

If your engagement strategy is currently set to an annual model, then shifting to a continuous listening approach will help you make improvement in the metrics that matter, much faster.

Engagement is quickly becoming a concern for everyone within the leadership team – not just human resources.

The bottom line?

The best companies will be looking forward and actively working towards improving their engagement levels.

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