Employee Engagement is the New Black

Employee Engagement is the New Black

Engaged employeesBy Compensation Works

Much has been said about employee engagement over the last few years as companies focus on maximizing employee productivity. Companies, regardless of their ability to bring in new talent, should be nurturing the talent they have. Data suggests that as a company’s employee engagement increases, so does its bottom line.

Unfortunately, many companies are challenged by less-than-fully-engaged employees. Recent research from Modern Survey on employee engagement (“the degree to which employees are psychologically invested in the organization and motivated to contribute to its success”) paints a concerning picture: 61% of the workforce in the US is under-engaged or disengaged. Sixty-one percent!

The impact of this engagement crisis becomes even clearer when you consider that top performers; those most likely to be fully engaged, contribute 186% of an average employee. Low performers contribute just 11%. Under these circumstances, it’s obvious why employee engagement should be a priority for leaders, from line management to the C-suite.

To enhance employee engagement, leaders should focus attention on five key factors that drive employee behavior:

  1. recognition
  2. personal accomplishment
  3. career development
  4. belief in senior leadership
  5. compensation

For high performing employees in particular—the ones you’d really hate to have leave—receiving career development leads to ongoing satisfaction and engagement. Yet when finances are an issue, despite the fact that companies need to get the most out of the people they have, it’s training and development programs that are cut. Employees notice. In fact, when employees see concern around their career development when times are challenging, they are more likely to resist the siren song of recruiters when the job market is booming.

So when costly programs focused on employee career development are out of the question, what can employers do to show their people they care?

    • Give employees dedicated time to read business information online
  • Encourage employees to sit in on meetings or participate in projects that are outside their scope.
  • Encourage mentoring relationships and job-shadowing

So where does compensation come into this? Most leaders would agree that if you get the first 4 items on our list right, and you’re compensation is “appropriate”, then you are in good shape. The real issue is identifying what is “appropriate”. Without thorough compensation analysis, it’s hard to say, but research has shown that a company’s employee satisfaction isn’t hurt by lower pay, when the company is thoughtful and diligent in its communication to employees about how they are compensated.


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