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Managing people, human capital and culture - Human Resource Management (HRM) is critical for business success. HRM Guide publishes articles and news releases about HR surveys, employment law, human resource research, HR books and careers that bridge the gap between theory and practice.

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A new approach to employee engagement

March 13 2019 - Why do employers continue to focus on disengaged employees, rather than the engaged employees they already have in their ranks? Engaged employees are the workhorses and reliable people that drive businesses forward. So, as Kiran Reddy Pasham, Co-Founder, President and Chief Architect of SplashBI argues, employee engagement needs a new approach.

If you say Ďemployee engagementí, every HR and business leader will recognise it as an item high on their business agenda. Itís not only acquiring new staff, but retaining staff that is seen as a priority; most companies are currently trying to do everything they can to retain employees, reduce turnover and drive productivity. Yet, itís not working, and organisations just canít seem to make everyone happy. Statistics show that a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are still not engaged. What needs to change?

Say goodbye to disengaged employees

Disengaged employees are not the colleagues that engaged employees want to work with; their lack of motivation means that, in most cases, theyíve already checked out. However, most companies are still wasting time and resources trying to turn these people around, by monitoring flight risks, providing training opportunities, developing programmes and deploying technology to improve engagement, all with the intent of boosting morale, reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity. The majority of HR and business leaders believe that if we do more to create a better employee experience and support employees in their well-being and career paths whilst providing better managerial support, theyíll be more engaged. But thatís not the whole picture.

Figures show that 63% of employees think they could easily get as good a job as they already have, and the fact that people are willing to walk out implies they are not fully committed to their job, or the company. Great pay, great benefits, great programmes and great training unfortunately are sometimes not enough to get a disengaged employee back on track, meaning it might not be the organisation itself that has the problem. At this point, the organisation needs to ask itself: what is the cost of keeping workers who arenít committed in terms of productivity and customer dissatisfaction?

Sometimes, the fight to keep talent can actually hurt an organisationís bottom line, especially when a disengaged employee can cost about 34% of a personís salary in lost productivity. This shows that disengaged employees simply arenít worth the cost of keeping them, let alone trying numerous initiatives, incentives and programmes to try and persuade them to fall in love with their job again.

Who are your engaged employees?

Figures about engaged employees tell a different story: companies with engaged employees outperform competitors by as much as 202%. This makes the scene pretty clear. Businesses must stop focusing on disengaged employees and instead focus on engaged employees. These individuals or teams are motivated and they want the organisation to succeed. They are committed to making the organisation successful as it works towards its future. And, these employees want to be surrounded by other engaged employees, to stop themselves carrying the burden of productivity enforced by other disengaged employees.

This carries true business benefits, too. Highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have higher productivity. Itís time for organisations to stop focusing on disengaged employees and instead find the engaged employees within each team or department and find a way to replicate that engagement at scale. Once you have found these employees, learn to understand them. Once you understand them, hire and retain more people like them.

Data is the answer

The trick is actually gathering sufficient data around what makes them tick. And it doesnít have to be a challenge; workforce analytics - made possible by enterprise technology that captures HR data - can help organisations find and evaluate engaged employees, uncovering what attributes they have or where they excel the most. Collecting and analysing this data no longer requires a small army of data scientists, organisations have tools such as long-form surveys, pulse surveys, manager and coaching tools, and workforce data, at their fingertips.

So, the tools are in place, but how can they be used to identify the employees that will make a positive contribution to the business? The omnipresent technology utilised by HR leaders can help evaluate and measure engagement, identify the top performing employees by the number of targets met or exceeded, manage the teamís headcount and reduce churn. Amongst countless other KPIs that matter to organisational success, retention is one of the best indicators of an engaged employee base; low regret turnover - the number of high potential employees leaving the company - and flight risk can clearly show which employees within the organisation are committed to their role, responsibilities and the organisation itself.

These insights can not only be useful at employee level, but at managerial level too. In practice, good managers create engaged, motivated and high-performing employees, so it is worth also placing emphasis on the top of the organisation to see where changes might need to be made. The more organisations focus on creating a positive working environment that employees and managers alike genuinely want to be a part of, the better they will become at building an organisational culture that is more committed to nurturing and supporting its engaged employees in the long term.


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