Employee Engagement Is an HR Priority—But Needs Key Resources to Succeed

The votes are in. A new study from StaffConnect found that HR leaders—alongside C-level executives, corporate communications, and other business professionals—are prioritizing employee engagement. Specifically, the 2018 Employee Engagement Survey found that around three-quarters of organizations surveyed plan to implement initiatives to improve their employees’ experience (EX) in 2018.

But when we dig deeper into the data, we can see that there’s a disconnect here between many organizations’ desire versus their commitment to creating and maintaining staff engagement. This is seen in a few key findings:

  • When it comes to how enterprises are communicating with employees, the vast majority are behind the times. Most still rely primarily on e-mail (nearly 80%) and/or newsletters (nearly 50%) to reach workers, including nondesk employees (NDEs) who may not even have a company e-mail address.
  • Over a quarter of respondents indicated that they are not measuring employee engagement at all. Among organizations that are attempting measurement, many were found to be using insufficient indicators like rates of decreased absenteeism/employee turnover (35%) or increased profitability (23.5%).
  • The types of tools that companies use for measurement also are problematic in that they’re relatively antiquated compared with more innovative technologies. Nearly three-quarters use paper-based surveys to measure engagement, and around 40% use employee suggestion schemes.

What I’m getting at here is that while many companies profess to highly value their employees’ engagement levels and experience, their choices around resources to create and measure engagement are sorely lacking. This is evident  too in the fact that despite so many organizations including engagement initiatives on this year’s agenda, halfway through the year, nearly 75% of those good intentions had yet to be introduced. Without investing in the resources that have been shown to support high engagement levels, how can enterprises expect to give their teams that superior EX that they strive to achieve?

Out of the Office

With the survey results above in mind, let’s now drill down into what it takes to improve engagement in today’s changing workforce. First, it’s important to understand some macro trends that are affecting where and how people work. Deloitte recently released a report on Global Human Capital Trends. In addition to identifying EX as among the top most critical global trends currently facing organizations, Deloitte also emphasized that we’re seeing a rise in NDEs and other external workers at the same time that gig economy workers are increasing their impact in the workforce. In the StaffConnect study, more than one-third of companies reported having at least half of their employees in nondesk positions.

This trend convergence means that rather than what was once common for employers—having all of their employees under one roof in the same location—distributed workforces have become the norm, with some people in-house and others off-site. With remote workers now a common part of many teams, it has become considerably tougher for employees to communicate effectively across the organization, whether with management, their teams, or their peers in different parts of the enterprise. This traces back to the fact that, as the Employee Engagement Survey revealed, many companies aren’t using the most innovative tools to communicate among their teams, instead relying on limited-reach communication tools such as e-mail and newsletters.

If a sizable chunk of your workforce feels out of the loop or is unable to easily access the news and tools they need to do their jobs effectively, low morale and disengagement are sure to follow—not just for the remote workers but also for other employees who rely on them. Once that happens, lower productivity won’t be far behind, which will of course negatively impact customer service levels and lead to decreased company revenue. And with a significant portion of companies admitting that on top of this, they aren’t even attempting to do the measurements that would help show where the cultural shortfalls are, we have the perfect storm for disengagement.

Tomorrow we are going to look at how technology can improve EX.

Bulent Osman is the Founder and CEO at StaffConnect.