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What’s the top concern of Human Resource professionals today?

Based on recent studies – one of them among more than 800 HR practitioners – employee engagement has climbed to the top of the list of current business challenges. It towered over all other concerns.

So, it’s on everyone’s mind. Why the attention? And what difference does it make to your organization? What’s at stake?

What Exactly is an Engaged Employee?

Human capital consulting giant, Aon Hewitt, has defined employee engagement as “the state of emotional and intellectual involvement that motivates employees to do their best work”. Their work on the subject describes the engaged employee as one who speaks positively about their organization, has a desire to stay, and applies extra effort that ultimately makes the organization successful.

That sounds like a highly-committed worker, one who gives 110%, and goes that extra mile. They’re giving an “emotional commitment”. Essentially, and most basically, employee engagement is a feeling of wanting to do your job.

Why Worry About it?

If an HR manager’s job wasn’t busy, and complex enough, experts now say failure to attend to employee engagement could be lethal, for employee retention and even overall corporate performance. Why is that?

In the tight economy which surrounds us currently, focusing on performance is only logical. And with slow growth, tight budgets, and competitive talent markets, operating efficiently and intelligently makes perfect sense.  Employee engagement just might be the way to leverage performance from the inside.

Engaged employees are more loyal, they work harder, and stay longer. And, as you might have guessed, those effects transfer to business operations. Companies with better employee engagement can look forward to increased innovation, better productivity, lower retention and recruiting costs, even a larger market share.

The big hitters in the human capital research world share some convincing findings on this. Aon-Hewitt has devoted 15 years of world-wide research to develop a multi-level model of employee engagement which says this: The behaviors engaged employees demonstrate lead to positive outcomes in key business drivers like customer satisfaction, increased sales, and other positive extra-role behaviors.

Gallup, Hay Group, and Towers Watson also examine the topic annually, and their research has uncovered some attention-worthy statistics. If you think you can ignore the notion of engaged employees, think again. Here’s why:

Organizations with engaged workers are more likely to be financially successful.

  • Towers Watson (Global Workforce Study) examined employee engagement in 50 companies, finding operating margins to be nearly three times higher in companies with high levels of employee engagement.
  • Hay Group’s research has shown that organizations with top-level engagement enjoy revenue growth 2.5 times more than that of organizations in the bottom categories.
  • Aon Hewitt’s data suggests that just a 1% increase in employee engagement equates to an additional .6% growth in sales.

Add to that, this fact: Engaged workers are more likely to remain in their organizations and are less likely to resign, which would allow companies to escape the $11 billion that turnover costs North American companies each year.

What will make a difference and influence your employees’ engagement levels?

So, how can you nurture the employee experience? What is it they’re looking for?

Back to Aon-Hewitt, and their engagement model. They, and others, have found that the drivers of engagement tend to be: interesting work; career opportunities; recognition; and organizational reputation. Satisfying employees’ needs in these areas can have some of the most immediate and positive impacts on overall engagement.

Naturally, you’re already giving your employees a regular paycheck – probably some benefits as well – but acknowledgement beyond the basics, and regularly, for their outputs, ideas, or long-tenor needs to be added to the mix.  Boost employee morale with Rewards and Recognition Programs. 

 “Celebrate what you want to see more of.” – Tom Peters

Engagement Comes from Recognition

Like so many management matters, there is no quick fix! But that’s not to say it’s beyond your control. Far from it. Studies found that among smart approaches to improving employee engagement, the number one way was through recognition.

Towers Watson’s research on employee engagement showed that manager-delivered recognition of employee performance boosts engagement in a dramatic way. And those companies with strategic reward and recognition programs reported less frustrated, and more enabled employees.

When groups of employees who were already considered to be highly engaged were examined, 80% of those employees had received some form of reward or recognition for their work in the previous year. And 92% of those same employees had someone talk about their progress publicly in the last 6 months.

There’s also some indication that awards and recognition programs which empower employees to both give and receive formal recognition yield the best results.

Recognition in the workplace is a key driver that creates employee loyalty and drives productivity

The behaviour of your employees tends to be at the center of business success. A powerful way to help connect employees to values is creating a systematic way of publicly recognizing employees who demonstrate core values and who achieve established targets. Recognition of employee effort and achievement tends to have a domino effect.

So in answer to our own question: employee engagement is important because it makes a difference to morale, retention and therefore, to an employee’s commitment and performance. All those things feed your bottom line. And unlike many, many things in human resource, or general business operations management today, you can influence engagement.

The short answer: It’s good business practice.

What’s Next?

Learn more about ProformaSI and our Rewards and Recognition Programs which enhance employee engagement and drive business results.  We deliver marketing programs via Online Company Stores.  Increase efficiency, maintain control and cut costs.  The best part is that you set it and forget it.


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