Firms Recognize Engagement

Acknowledgment for a job well done is more than a simple pat on the back — it’s one of the leading methods companies use to keep employees engaged.

Recognition programs are the top-used method organizations use to promote employee engagement, according to a recent survey by Human Capital Media Advisory Group, the research arm of Talent Management magazine.

HCM Advisory Group’s “2015 Employee Engagement” survey found that nearly two-thirds — or about 63 percent — of human resources professionals say they deploy recognition programs to promote engagement (Figure 1).

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The survey, administered in February, included 146 respondents of HR professionals from companies of various sizes and industries.

In addition to recognition programs, half of respondents said they use wellness programs to promote engagement, while 46 percent and 41 percent said they use work-life balance programs and stretch assignments, respectively.

To a lesser extent, respondents said they keep employees engaged through charity-matching and compensation programs.

Roughly 15 percent of HR respondents said they did not offer any of these programs to promote engagement. 

When it comes to defining employee engagement, most of the survey’s respondents — 78 percent — said they view engagement as “the extent to which employees are motivated to contribute to organizational success and are willing to apply discretionary effort to accomplish tasks important to the achievement of organizational goals.” About 22 percent of respondents disagreed with that definition.

Furthermore, about 19 percent said their organization does not evaluate employee engagement at all (Figure 2).

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The values and behaviors most used to evaluate employee engagementare overall job satisfaction, opportunity to grow and improve skills, excitement about one’s work and confidence in senior leaders, according to the survey, with more than half of HR respondents saying that they examined each of these values and behaviors (Figure 2).

Other elements evaluated included co-worker attitude and effort, confidence in the organization’s future, satisfaction with recognition programs, work-life balance and workplace safety.

Effectiveness of employee engagement efforts, meanwhile, was largely determined based on employee retention, with 79 percent of respondents saying they used employee turnover as a measuring stick (Figure 3).

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Moreover, more than half of survey respondentsreported using productivity, team performance, individual performance and service quality to gauge the effectiveness of their employee engagement programs. Other proxies included the level of absenteeism, customer satisfaction, profit, sustainable growth, customer loyalty and increased market share.

The frequency with which this impact was measured varied from company to company: Nearly half of HR respondents reported evaluating the effect of engagement on retention yearly, while a third examined itsimpact at least quarterly (Figure 4).

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Like employee retention, individual performance, customer satisfaction, team performance and productivity were also measured with varying frequency, but organizations most often reported annual evaluations.

Most of the participating companies reported that they did not regularly measure the impact of employee engagement on customer loyalty, absenteeism, profit, service quality, revenue growth or market share, but those who did also tended to makeyearly evaluations.

Similarly, when organizations reported the impact of employee engagement on these areas, they most often reported it annually. Employee retention andindividual performance were the areas that respondents most often reported employee engagement’s impact, followed by customer satisfaction, team performance, service quality and productivity.

Fewer than half of respondents said they regularly reported the effects of employee engagement on absenteeism, revenue growth, customer loyalty, profit or market share.

As for how respondents reported employee engagement, 48 percent said they did not report demographically. Those who did largely reported by department or division, the survey showed, with 14 percent reporting employee engagement by level of performance.

 Only about a fifth of respondents said they reported employee engagement by age or gender, and just 11 percent reported by race or ethnicity.