Employee engagement remains the most critical factor and concern for business success. Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace Report indicates that only 33% of employees are considered engaged in their work. That number has risen, but lack of engagement remains a persistent issue.
While employee engagement measures have shown improvement in the last few years, they remain problematically low. Improvements are being seen in companies that are focused on performance management factors as well as human capital management strategies. Consensus indicates engagement level increase will continue slowly while companies gather feedback from employees and change their practices..
Industry analysts offer several insights on improving employee engagement and the role of human resources in assisting it.
Responsive Organizational Structures
Surveys show that an overwhelming 90% of companies fear their organizational structures are not working. The top-down management style of the past is falling out of favor as more flexible ideas are implemented. Horizontal and lattice structures are being created to increase employee engagement by empowering them to make their own decisions as well as provide more agility in response to rapid changes in competitive market trends.
Employees that have more say in their goal-setting and see the direct effect of their performance have higher engagement and contribute more to success in the workplace.
Performance Management Platforms Are Gaining Traction
Like so much of our lives now, technology has become an integral component of performance management. Major companies like MicroSoft and General Electric are taking the lead with software platforms that provide real-time review and feedback to employees on a continual basis.
A single, annual review is no longer enough to maintain employee engagement. Ongoing communication between management and employees are becoming the hallmarks of effective employee engagement. Tools like pulse surveys, 360 reviews, and Google’s Objectives and Key Results (OKR) system are becoming go-to strategies.
More Focus on Employee Metrics and Data
Software platforms that aggregate employee-derived data for more concise analysis are becoming the norm. The relationship between goals, objects, and performance is being approached from a data-centric way.
These platforms will also assist human resources with predictive modeling of employee teams. They will provide multiple levels of granularity for key recruitment needs.
Holistic Human Resource Management
Today’s employees are challenged by multiple job demands, maintaining a work/life balance, and upholding their physical and mental well-being. Human resources professionals are responding by developing management programs that are more employee-focused. Health, recognition, communication, and job satisfaction must be treated as components of overall employee engagement to improve performance and success outcomes.
Recognition is the Key to Engagement
Without a doubt, employee recognition as reward for good performance is a critical factor in employee engagement. Gallup surveys indicate that employees who do not receive frequent feedback on performance are more than twice as likely to express an interest in leaving their jobs. Millennials in particular looking for at least monthly review type formats, if not more frequently.
Rewarding performance can take many forms of public recognition: Cash bonuses, gifts, or even trips. Keeping the recognition frequent and credible is key to nurturing engagement.
Culture and Engagement Feed Success
While companies are treating their employees needs more holistically, the same approach is being deployed with overall company culture. By not treating these issues as distinct silos, companies are recognizing that they interact in crucial ways that should be enabled and encouraged.
Employees that feel their companies care about them are more engaged and dedicated to the success of their workplace. Companies with strong cultures for success that make clear the relationship between performance and recognition are experiencing lower turnover and more successful outcomes in productivity and profitability.
For an HR department, focusing on measures to improve engagement means higher retention and a more appealing business culture that can help attract candidates to job openings. Additionally, employees that experience higher levels of engagement benefit from better mental health and a positive work attitude, which are all features that an HR department values and promotes.