Time to Engage Every Employee

Time Magazine recently published an article on “the burgeoning field of employee engagement.” The article author, Barbara Kiviat, highlights how the various research firms in this area view engagement drivers differently. She notes Gallup sees the main driver as direct managers while Towers Perrin focuses on executive-level vision setting as most important.

I believe these differentiators, while important, leave out the obvious critical factor – the employees. Yes, company executives need to set the vision for engagement and recognition and yes, direct managers need to communicate and implement that vision effectively. But we believe – and I have seen proven at our global clients – when the average employee can recognize his colleagues, anywhere in the world, for their efforts, then employee engagement soars. This peer-to-peer recognition naturally builds teamwork efforts and inspires trust in your fellow worker.

Kiviat goes on to highlight the significant bottom-line results of employee engagement, citing RBS’ savings of $40 million from increased retention and Towers Perrin’s study showing a 5.75% higher operating margin for firms showing high engagement scores.

I particularly appreciated a quotation from Alex Edmans, finance professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, “People used to think HR was just a cost center and not a source of value creation.” I agree – HR can create significant value through strategic global employee recognition programs.

Does your company tout employee engagement? What initiatives have you seen being launched and what is the relative success of any such initiatives? Do you agree with Kiviat’s point: “Engagement is amorphous but critical – the unengaged undermine.”? What have you done about it?

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