Interpreting Employee Engagement Results

Some recent research points to interesting effects of the recession on employee satisfaction and engagement.

A CIPD survey found employee satisfaction has risen among UK employees since 2006, but CIPD notes, “but this could be the employee opinion survey equivalent of a fixed grin.”

And HR consultancy Towers Perrin reported similar findings that the global engagement gap has not widened during the recession.

Clemson (U.S.) University psychology professor Thomas Britt found that “an engaged employee isn’t necessarily committed to the organization.” In fact, highly engaged (but not committed) employees are more likely to change jobs into an environment they feel is more supportive.

But if you dig a little deeper, CIPD also notes an increase in stressors on employees stating:
“Without action to tackle some of the stresses and strains that are clear in our survey, employers could find employee health and wellbeing deteriorating, and employee engagement tailing off at precisely the time they need all hands to the pump to survive the recession and thrive in the recovery."
Towers Perrin also shows:
“But the data also confirm a drop in employees’ understanding of their company’s goals and long-term direction, as well as in their positive perceptions of leadership’s overall effectiveness -- both of which could signal the beginning of a downturn in engagement levels as this year progresses.”
All of this tells me companies cannot become complacent if their own employee satisfaction or engagement surveys report steady levels as compared to last year. The stress and strain on employees are real. The need for clarity on company direction and personal priorities is only increasing. The need for support, appreciation and opportunities to grow are as valid today as ever.

Economic indicators are showing the upturn is near. Are you giving your employees the recognition and direction they need to remain committed to you and your organization when the upturn comes? If not, you may be throwing your greatest competitive advantage out the door precisely when you need it the most.

2 comment(s):

At June 27, 2009 5:01 AM, Debbie Norris said...

I think you're right on track. You have to take higher engagement numbers with a grain of salt, considering the context in which they've been generated.

I'm sure there are plenty of fixed grins on top of scared faces these days.

At June 29, 2009 7:52 AM, Derek Irvine said...

Excellent way of putting it, Debbie -- "fixed grin on scared faces."