Employee engagement is a rising human resource challenge for companies, according to a new study from Deloitte. What can your company do to overcome the challenge?
It’s important to recognize the role of employee engagement in the modern workplace: More than 85 percent of respondents in Deloitte’s 2016 Human Capital Trends report cited employee engagement as “important.”
New York Times best-selling author Kevin Kruse defines employee engagement as the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. Corporate employee engagement experts Peter Flade, James Harter, and Jim Asplund note: “Many make the mistake of prioritizing the easy, shiny stuff—hip office space, remote work arrangements, and inventive benefits—over the elements that will strengthen emotional ties and connect employees more deeply to their managers, teams, and companies.”
This may be part of the reason why a low 13% of employees worldwide are engaged.
Gallup estimates that employees who fall into the “not engaged” and “actively disengaged” categories collectively cost $319 to $398 billion annually in the United States alone. And two important CSR target groups, managers and millennials, have low levels of engagement: Millennials, who are set to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2030, are the least engaged generation, and only 35 percent of managers are engaged in their jobs.
Implementing strategies that reach the individual on an emotional level can be a logistical challenge, especially for global companies with diverse workforces. Luckily, there has been a flood of research on the topic.
Three solid strategies are emerging as a way to bridge the employee engagement divide:
1. Focus on values-based recognition for employees.
The O.C. Tanner Institute finds that recognition has a direct impact on causing great work, increasing engagement, encouraging innovation and productivity, improving trust and manager relationships, and attracting and retaining talent.
In particular, HR leaders and practitioners reported in the 2015 SHRM/Globoforce Survey that values-based recognition programs significantly contribute to bottom-line organizational metrics—engagement, retention, safety, wellness, employer brand, and even cost controls—and help employers create a stronger culture and more human workplace.
Dell EMC, a global leader in information technology as a service, has aligned its recognition program with its overall CSR strategy. Each month, new hires and employees celebrating a service anniversary are sent a $25 GlobalGiving e-gift card that can be redeemed in support of global projects aligned with Dell EMC’s Giving Back strategy supporting causes such as education, food, water, and disaster recovery.
2. Offer year-round workplace giving opportunities.
For the past three years, the America’s Charities Snapshot Series has tracked changes in workplace-centered philanthropy and employee engagement. “Snapshot 2015—The New Corporate DNA: Where Employee Engagement and Social Impact Converge” finds dramatic shifts in employee-giving models from past years. This year, almost two-thirds of corporate respondents say they offer year-round opportunities for employees to give.
In 3BL Media’s webinar on the report, Heather Lofkin Wright, Director of Corporate Responsibility at PwC US, spoke to this change, “There’s no shortage of experiences, news items, interactions that move someone to want to give back. And we as a corporate entity are not in the position to put a time frame on that. So having things available 365 days a year for our people to do is really critical for giving through the workplace to be a significant onramp and opportunity.”
3. Provide your employees with skills-based or pro-bono volunteering opportunities.
The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s 2015 Community Involvement Study found that among companies that measure the connection between volunteering and employee engagement, 89 percent found a positive correlation between participation and high engagement scores.
Company representatives also report that volunteering helps to establish positive brand within operating communities and displays organizational values in action. Tech companies are increasingly encouraging their employees to volunteer tech skills to organizations that lack proper funds and staff.
For example, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Advising Program allows HPE employees to offer their professional expertise and advice to nonprofits and entrepreneurs at no cost. In the past, HPE employees have helped in a variety of key business areas, including branding and marketing, IT, business planning, managing staff, and recruiting volunteers. Through its partnership with GlobalGiving, HPE has been able to provide support to more than 200 international nonprofits.
Don’t let employee engagement lag at your company. The research is clear: It’s too crucial to overlook.
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