I recently was sent this summary of some research into employee engagement. It’s worth the quick read.

Engaged employeesWhen employees are highly engaged, their companies enjoy 26% higher employee productivity, have lower turnover risk, and are more likely to attract top talent, according to a report by Watson Wyatt, a consulting firm.

The survey found the following about highly engaged employees

  • They are twice as likely as their less engaged peers to be top performers.
  • They miss 20% fewer days of work.
  • Just about 75% of them exceed or far exceed expectations in their most recent performance review.
  • They tend to be more supportive of organizational change initiatives and resilient in the face of change.

“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to employee engagement,” said Ilene Gochman, global practice leader for organization effectiveness at the firm. “Segmenting the workforce and tailoring communication, performance management programs and other resources to specific employee groups is the most effective way to engage workers.”

Findings from the report suggest that employers can take actions to increase engagement and productivity. The firm offers the following examples of actions employers can take:

    Capitalize on “engageable moments.” An engageable moment is a critical juncture for maintaining and building engagement. It might occur during such programs as new hires’ onboarding, performance management and benefits enrollment, or when the organization goes through particularly challenging economic times. The report shows that engagement starts off high among new employees, but tapers through careers.

    Demonstrate strong leadership and clear direction. When times are difficult, employees want to know about their organization’s specific plans and progress. Decisive action backed by clearly articulated rationale can build support for corporate initiatives, particularly when individual performance objectives and rewards are tied to corporate objectives.

    Manage organizational change with effective communication. Effective communication from senior management directly connects employees to the purpose of the organization. This is particularly important in a challenging economy, when employees are anxious to learn the rationale behind decisions. Reviewing communication processes to ensure that information flows vertically as well as horizontally throughout the organization is an important step to employee engagement.

    Emphasize customer focus. In difficult times, employees are aware that job security is strengthened by satisfied customers. Emphasizing customer satisfaction keeps employees from being too internally focused and provides a common direction to move the organization forward.

    Institute and communicate a system of equitable rewards. While it may be necessary to cut back on rewards, organizations need to understand which reward programs are most important to engage their critical employee segments. Changes to rewards need to be communicated in a way that is consistent with delivering on the employment “deal.” Employees who indicate their organization effectively delivers on the employment deal are 20 times as likely to be highly engaged and 50 percent more likely to be top performers, the survey found.

    Invest in the core. The key to driving productivity gains is increasing engagement among core contributors, who represent 60 percent of the typical workforce. Highly engaged employees are already working at or near their peak but are often limited by their less engaged co-workers. Focusing on engaging core contributors can improve both groups’ productivity. “Improving employee engagement will help drive business results in the long run by improving employee commitment to corporate goals and generating exceptional individual performance and productivity,” said Gochman.

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