Survey Reveals Top Opportunities to Improve Employee Engagement

Aon Hewitt recently released their 2012 Trends in Global Engagement. Several findings were unsurprising, but worthy of highlighting as many organizations still struggle with getting these basic factors of engagement success right.

First, it’s important to understand Aon Hewitt’s three-part engagement model of “Say” (what employees say about the organization to others), “Stay” (the level of employee desire to stay with the organization), and “Strive” (how much extra effort employees are willing to give and the behaviors they’re willing to demonstrate).

With that in mind, consider these findings from the research on “Top Opportunities to Improve Employee Engagement”:

  • Recognition: Employees need feedback and positive reinforcement to consistently go above and beyond. It is critical to the motivation and the engagement equation. Our data shows that the “Strive” component of engagement is increasing slightly despite the strain many organizations have been under as they manage cost and growth pressures. Recognizing this extra effort employees have given in a tough business climate will pay dividends.
  • Organizational reputation: Employees join organizations that have a reputation as a best employer. They are also engaged by working for a best employer. People want to be part of a winning team. This driver is about connecting employers to the company, the mission, and the work beyond financial business performance, and why working with you offers them a compelling value proposition backed by a set of total rewards and a work experience that is not easily replicated elsewhere.
  • Managing performance: Effective performance management answers the question, “What should employees engage in?” Further, performance management is the mechanism that translates business performance objectives into set, focused individual objectives that enable true employee effectiveness. Organizations with high employee engagement scores, but low performance management effectiveness, might ask themselves, “Are employees engaged in the right behaviors? What are they engaged in?”

A clear ROI on employee recognition

Strategic, social recognition is a powerful method for accomplishing all three. The ROI on recognition is clear, especially when linked to engagement. Moreover, companies with a culture of recognition have stronger reputations among employees and the market alike. When peer-to-peer recognition is made public throughout the organization, employees can see and share in the goodwill flowing across the company, creating a powerful sense of a winning team.

Finally, Aon Hewitt’s last question under “Managing Performance” is critical to consider. It is possible to have employees who are working very hard and delivering strong results – but are their efforts focused on what you need them to be focused on today?

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Strategic objectives are changing more rapidly than ever. Communicating those changes in ways that matter to employees – through the work they do every day – is critical to managing and focusing their performance. Being able to see the results in real-time charts based on recognition given and received for living those desired behaviors (as is possible through Talent Maps) takes this to the next level.

What are your top opportunities for improving engagement in your organization?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.