Employee Engagement: Your Key to Bottom Line Profitability

Declining motivation, commitment and loyalty play out in decreased creativity and productivity.

Wise executives know that few aspects of leading are more important than employee engagement. They know there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and bottom-line profitability. Why? Because employee turnover is expensive. It costs organizations billions of dollars every year to lose valued employees. Engaged employees are happy and fulfilled; they have no reason to consider leaving.

As we begin 2012, employee engagement remains a critical, bottom line, business issue. While employee engagement has been waning over the past several years, the number of employees looking to switch jobs continues to grow steadily. The business implications of eroding employee engagement go well beyond retention. Declining motivation, commitment and loyalty play out in decreased creativity and productivity.

Many recent studies shed light on the situation. According to a report issued by PeopleMetrics, though young people are "happier" now that in the past, nearly 6 in 10 (57%) do not feel engaged at all and less than 1 in 8 is fully engaged. In September, Modern Survey found that the number of fully engaged employees has dropped to a record low 8%, the number of under-engaged employees is at a record high of 42%, and the total number of employees either under engaged or disengaged has reached a record high of 70%.

Not surprisingly, as reported by The Gallup Organization in their "Q3 2011," a full 71% of American workers are "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" in their work, which leaves only one-third of American workers who are "engaged," or involved in and enthusiastic about their work and contributing to their organizations in a positive manner. This trend in Gallup's research remained relatively stable throughout 2011.

What is disturbing for industry executives is that even though respondents to a recent Randstad survey report showed higher engagement marks, nearly 60% of respondents say they are likely to seriously consider a new job in the next six months or would take another job, if offered.

Most recently, the new global analysis of Mercer's What's Working survey concurs. That research, was conducted among nearly 30,000 employees in 17 geographic markets between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011, shows that the percentage of workers seriously considering leaving their organization has risen since the last time the survey was conducted in each market (between 2003 and 2006 prior to the economic downturn.)

The picture remains much the same as it has been for years -- employees will choose to change jobs, when the right opportunity comes along, no matter how engaged they say they are now which is why we urge employers to take action now.

Take Action to Prevent Turnover

Here are some simple almost-cost-free tactics you can implement right away to insure that you know how to keep your good people engaged and avoid costly employee turnover.

Suggest that your HR Department Re-recruit your Workforce

Ask your Human Resource people to conduct "Stay Interviews." Have them probe to find out why people are staying; if they wait until employees have left, we call those "Exit Interviews," it is too late. Stay Interviews allow you to act on the disgruntling work issues before they become a problem. This re-recruiting also sends a message to your talent that they are valued.

Consider having HR Re-orient your Long-tenured Workers

Your organization's orientation may have changed many times, since your long-tenured employees first came onboard. Most worrisome, many compliance issues were not even of concern as recently as five years ago. A refresher on prevention of sexual harassment and workplace violence would be valuable for many employees?especially those with long tenure.

Ask People for their Best Ideas for Improvement

People support what they help to create. Make continuous improvement part of your culture -- if it is not already. However, you must value people's ideas. When they give you their suggestions, provide feedback as soon as possible -- particularly if you do not intend to implement their ideas. Always remember, your people on the front line will have the best insight into how to solve problems or make improvements. Consult with them and you will reduce your costs, while increasing engagement.

Train Supervisors and Managers to Keep your Good People

It is a sad fact that most companies simply do not train their people before moving them into supervisory and management positions. If you are serious about decreasing employee turnover, be sure to train your supervisors, managers, and executives, before moving them into increasingly responsible leadership positions. Once educated, most leaders will be much better at engaging their direct reports. When you eliminate "supervision by anointment," you take a major step towards pushing more revenue to the bottom line.

Taking these four simple steps will definitely help you increase your levels of employee engagement and drive more profit to the bottom line. Your CFO will thank you for it and your personal bonus will also reflect your wise decision.

Joyce L. Gioia is CEO of Employer of Choice International, Inc. She is also author of the Herman Trend Alert, distributed weekly to over 29,000 people in 87 countries in four languages.

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