Culture, Engagement, Branding

HR Increases Focus on Engagement and Company Culture

A recent survey shows that talent management has received new focus by HR leaders across the country.

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The report, “Paychex Pulse of HR Survey” (run by Paychex), was the second annual report that showed that HR has sharpened its focus on talent management strategies that impact employee engagement and company culture in a real way.

Advances in technology and evolving employee needs present HR with new challenges every day, but there is good news: today’s HR leaders continue to have strategic influence with their organization’s C-suite. Between 2017 and 2018, the same number (80%) of HR leaders said they feel they are a strategic partner within their organization—and nearly half (44%) report meeting with their CEO, CFO, or both on a weekly basis in 2018.

The report also showed a commitment to talent management, as 85% of respondents said they’re focusing on company culture to drive results, and 77% feel their current HR technology solution is improving overall employee experience.

“Between the U.S. reaching full employment, significant shifts in societal trends and priorities, and a new generation entering the workforce, HR is uniquely positioned to manage talent in a way that drives higher engagement and better business results,” said Leah Machado, Senior Director of HR services at Paychex. She added, “for that reason, attracting, engaging, and retaining high-quality talent is more important today than perhaps ever before.”

Employee Engagement

Employees today want to be both empowered and engaged. In 2018, 65% of HR leaders reported that at least half of their workforce is engaged, up from 48% in 2017. Furthermore, of those surveyed, 62% of HR leaders are measuring employee engagement via pulse surveys throughout the year rather than on an annual basis.

“Staying in touch with the ever-changing needs of your workforce is mandatory in an increasingly competitive human capital landscape,” said Pamela Lacy, Paychex HR consultant. She continued:

Many employees today want to work for an employer who has developed a culture of inclusion and diversity, as well as one that offers ample opportunities for career advancement. Supplementing the human touch that is inherent to the HR function with tools and technologies that help to connect the employees to their work in a way they’ve become accustomed to in their personal lives can help HR professionals create an employee experience that rivals top competitors and ultimately improves overall employee engagement.

Societal Shifts 

Societal trends and priorities are driving changes to employee protection policies. In fact, 83% of HR leaders surveyed say they now have a discrimination and harassment policy in place, and 65% have updated those policies within the last 12 months. Additionally, 67% have re-evaluated their pay practices this year with an eye on gender equality.

“There is no doubt that the #MeToo movement has had an impact on the workplace by opening positive dialogues on pay practices, the work environment, and anti-retaliation policies,” said Edwina Maxwell, Paychex human resources coach. She added, “business leaders today are increasingly attentive to their HR policies and practices and are laser-focused on creating and maintaining workplaces that are free from even the perception of harassment, discrimination, or pay inequality.”

Multi-generational Workforce

In 2017, HR leaders were far less likely to be comfortable supporting the HR needs of Millennials when compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. One year later, though, managing the multi-generational workforce seems to have evened out, as perceived support for all generations hovered at around 51%. In 2017, 64% of HR leaders felt managing the needs of Gen X was a significant challenge, followed by Baby Boomers (57%) and Millennials (48%).

“Millennial employees now make up the largest segment of the workforce, and our data indicates most organizations feel comfortable in their ability to meet the needs of a Millennial employee,” said Shauna Stute, HR generalist at Paychex. Stute also stated:

Generation Z is now entering the job market with new ideas and fresh perspective, leading many HR leaders to shift their focus to learning about the needs and expectations of this new segment. What we do know is Gen Z is more globally connected than any generation that’s come before it. They generally want to know that their work makes a difference—and not only to their organization, but to society as a whole. Savvy employers who quickly learn to harness Gen Z’s passion and ideals have a tremendous opportunity to create loyal, long-term employees.

The role HR plays in driving engagement and culture is powerful, but those are far from the only topics impacting the industry today. The Paychex Pulse of HR Survey also revealed insights on HR technology’s role in driving efficiency, along with the proliferation of non-traditional benefits as a means for attracting and retaining top talent. View the complete report here.

Survey Methodology

The 2018 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey was conducted online between April 13, 2018, and April 21, 2018, and polled 300 HR decision-makers at U.S. companies with between 50 and 500 employees. This marked the second installment of a three-year, annual commitment to studying the latest trends in HR and technology.