Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What is Driving Employee Engagement?

What really engages your employees to give their best at work?  I think this has been a question that has stumped most HR professionals for a long time.  I believe the problem is that the answer is not the same for every company, every department, every generation, etc.

Yes, there are many large research firms that study this on a regular basis and they have norms or averages on what is driving engagement and I do believe those studies are interesting.

For example, Aon, my former employer has a recent study out, the 2012 Trends in Global Employee Engagement, which looks at global engagement trends over the last three years.

I found the following quite interesting:

The report also ana­lyzed which engage­ment dri­vers had the most pos­i­tive impact on engage­ment and oppor­tu­nity for improvement:
  • Career oppor­tu­ni­ties (the top dri­ver of engagement…communication of clear career paths, prepar­ing employ­ees for the next role, pro­vid­ing lat­eral growth oppor­tu­ni­ties for key employees)
  • Recog­ni­tion (rec­og­niz­ing the extra effort of employ­ees in a tough busi­ness climate)
  • Orga­ni­za­tional rep­u­ta­tion (being a part of a respect and win­ning team)
  • Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (effec­tive and engag­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion from lead­ers and the organization)
The above list is fascinating to me as for the first time in a study I see communication from leadership as being important to employees.  I have known this and heard this for years, but here is the data in black and white.  In my experience, the communication of the vision and the mission of the organization is key to getting an employee's heart and mind engaged.  Yet, that is where most CEO's fall down is in the messaging of organizational strategy.

Another interesting point is that nothing about pay and benefits came out as a driver in this research even during a down economy.

I am also surprised by organizational reputation making the list.  I guess now more than ever employer brand matters.

The report does say that these 4 items had the MOST POSITIVE IMPACT on engagement AND OPPORTUNITY for improvement.  So, it sounds as if the 4 items listed were the top drivers for their sample AND that employers did not score well on those 4 items.

What a shocker!

And..what an opportunity for HR.  If in fact, these 4 areas are true for your company as well, what could you do to improve these?

Does your organization rely on your engagement data and take action on the results?

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