Coaching and Development

Why Is Employee Engagement So Hard To Generate?

Over the last decade, employee engagement has suffered in a big way. But improving employee engagement can give a big boost to your bottom line. So where do we start looking for improvements?

There is a big mystery among employers and it has to do with employee engagement. Over the last decade, employee engagement has suffered. We’ve all heard the dismal statistics on how many employees are disengaged and looking for other work opportunities, too disillusioned to go on another day at their present job. But we also know how important employee engagement is to the bottom line – so where do we start looking for improvements?

Challenges to employee engagement

We know there are a ton of benefits to employee engagement. A Gallup poll indicated that highly engaged workplaces see a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales overall. High levels of employee engagement also reduce employee turnover rates. But it can take significant effort to get employees excited about their work and plugged into the company culture. And once they do seem engaged, it’s equally as difficult to keep them interested. What’s happening here?

Lack of focus on employee experience

A recent study found that 83% of HR leaders believe that employee experience is an important component to organizational success. If that’s true, then why do 14% of HR pros say they aren’t getting the executive support they need to increase employee engagement? Companies have to create a culture that’s focused on building up employees at every opportunity. It’s no longer about just hiring people; it’s about retaining them through a concerted effort to improve their experience. This change in culture needs to come from the top down, and be promoted by leadership.

Companies aren’t tracking employee engagement

According to a Deloitte survey, 64% of organizations only take the time to measure employee engagement once a year, even though there are HR tools that make it possible to track engagement in real time. The problem with annual surveys is by the time employee engagement data gets reviewed, it’s already too late to address any issues because the data is old. Then there is no way to track how new campaigns are impacting employees. HR knows that it is more effective to measure employee engagement on a regular basis, so why aren’t more doing so? Time and being able to integrate an employee engagement solution are among the reasons most don’t prioritize this.

Not enough effort made to improve candidate experience

The trouble with many organizations is that they are too used to asking job seekers to jump through corporate hoops that they create a negative experience for candidates. Old systems and ways of doing things just don’t work well. Today, candidates expect a lot more from the companies they take the time to consider for their career goals. Recruiters need to rise to the occasion and make the candidate experience a pleasant one, by being responsive to each candidate. This experience lingers with an employee, even after they’ve gotten the job. The more positive the first contacts with a candidate are, the better onboarding and employee engagement levels can be.

Pro Tip: Here’s how improving candidate experience can benefit employers.

Leaving employees to figure it out

Another problem that can cause otherwise good employees to become disengaged happens when the company leaves them with little resources — like career coaching and educational support. Employees need to establish a clear career path within their new company as soon as possible. Management needs to be available for weekly touch-points for two purposes. One is to make sure each employee has what he or she needs to complete tasks. The second is to find out how the employee is doing, and explore if there are any obstacles in their way. Very often, employees need more training and can benefit from either taking courses or shadowing with more seasoned employees.

Improving employee engagement is an effective way to reduce your turnover rate. Download our turnover reduction infographic for 5 additional tips!

Best practices for managing employee engagement

The good news is that there are some simple and effective ways to improve employee engagement:

  1. Pre-screen candidates carefully. Hiring the right people for each job can be a challenge, but it’s critical for long-term success. As part of the application process, check the qualifications and background of every candidate. People may say and do just about anything to get a job, so try digging deeper. If a new hire sees this job as a stepping-stone to something better, they won’t be all that engaged in your company.
  2. Give employees a thorough, personalized onboarding experience, followed by a clear career path — led by the employee. New hires will encounter a great deal of information in the first few days and even months on the job. In some cases, employees may consider leaving the company due to frustration or information overload. If employees are supported and there is a structure in place for their learning and career development, it makes things more manageable and they can focus on being engaged in their work.
  3. Focus on the employee experience. Organizations can no longer expect talent to jump through corporate hoops. Talent has the upper hand in the job market, which means employers need to make every encounter with the company a pleasant and meaningful one. Take what you know about candidate experience and use it to create a great employee experience. Do what it takes to make things better for employees from recruitment and onboarding to training and assignments.
  4. Give employees incentives to stay. Along with a defined career path that puts them in the driver seat, employees who are regularly rewarded and promoted tend to stay longer. Multiple studies show that employees who feel undervalued find it easy to leave for another company that pays just a little more or offers a few more perks. Consider a clear pay-for-performance program, or explore other options for clearly demonstrating the value you place on your employees.
  5. Make sure employees know their purpose. It’s important to be transparent with employees about how their work contributes to the overall company results. A Future Workplace Forecast revealed that aligning employees with a common purpose is one of the most important aspects of a better workplace experience.
  6. Measure employee engagement all the time. It’s possible to use a simple and low cost employee engagement product to keep tabs on employee engagement levels. This can help HR to stay ahead of what keeps employees happy and engaged at work, instead of being reactive to negative factors that cause employees to disconnect and leave.
  7. Develop a strong employer brand. When a company takes the time to create a strong employer brand, this can help it stand out from competing firms. Strategic marketing that includes messaging around career opportunities, a great culture, job stability, and the chance to learn new things generally appeals to most people. Develop and execute an employer branding strategy and watch employees become more engaged and loyal at work.

What other initiatives have you seen that contribute to employee engagement? Let us know in the comments!


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