What 2015 Taught Us About Improving Employee Engagement

Employee engagement and culture issues are the number one human resources challenge for companies according to Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends study. More than 85% of respondents cite this challenge as “important,” including 50% who say it is “very important.” But for all the recent buzz around employee engagement, misconceptions around the true meaning of the term are still common.

A Forbes contributor defines employee engagement as the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals. But on corporate employee engagement strategies, Gallup Business Journal contributors note, “Many make the mistake of prioritizing the easy, shiny stuff — hip office space, remote work arrangements, and inventive benefits — over the elements that will strengthen emotional ties and connect employees more deeply to their managers, teams, and companies.”

This may be part of the reason why a low 13% of employees worldwide are engaged.

 

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Gallup estimates that employees who fall into the “not engaged” and “actively disengaged” categories collectively cost $319 to $398 billion annually in the U.S. alone. And two important CSR target groups, managers and millennials, have low levels of engagement: Millennials, who are set to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2030, are the least engaged generation, and only 35% of managers are engaged in their jobs.

Implementing strategies that reach the individual emotional level can be a logistical challenge, especially for global companies with diverse workforces. Luckily, with companies’ increased prioritization of employee engagement, there has been a flood of research on the topic.

Here are 3 ways companies can bridge the divide:

1. Recognize your employees, with a focus on values-based recognition

The O.C. Tanner Institute finds that recognition has a direct impact on causing great work, increasing engagement, encouraging innovation and productivity, improving trust and manager relationships, and attracting and retaining talent. In particular, HR leaders and practitioners reported in the 2015 SHRM/Globoforce Survey that values-based recognition programs significantly contribute to bottom-line organizational metrics – engagement, retention, safety, wellness, employer brand, and even cost controls – and help employers create a stronger culture and more human workplace.

EMC, a global leader in information technology as a service, has aligned its recognition program with its overall CSR strategy. Each month, new hires and employees celebrating a service anniversary are sent a $25 GlobalGiving e-gift card that can be redeemed in support of global projects aligned with EMC’s Giving Back strategy supporting causes such as education, food, water, and disaster relief.

2. Offer year-round workplace giving opportunities

For the past three years, the America’s Charities Snapshot Series has tracked changes in workplace-centered philanthropy and employee engagement. Snapshot 2015 – The New Corporate DNA: Where Employee Engagement and Social Impact Converge finds dramatic shifts in employee-giving models from past years. This year, almost two-thirds (60%) of corporate respondents say they offer year-round opportunities for employees to give.

In 3BL Media’s webinar on the report, Heather Lofkin Wright, Director of Corporate Responsibility at PwC US spoke to this change, “There’s no shortage of experiences, news items, interactions that move someone to want to give back. And we as a corporate entity are not in the position to put a time frame on that. So having things available 365 days a year for our people to do is really critical for giving through the workplace to be a significant onramp and opportunity that our people will take advantage of.”

3. Provide your employees with skills-based/pro-bono volunteering opportunities

The BCCCC’s 2015 Community Involvement Study found that among companies that measure the connection between volunteering and employee engagement, 89% found a positive correlation between participation and high engagement scores. Company representatives also report that volunteering helps to establish positive brand within operating communities and displays organizational values in action.

Tech companies are increasingly encouraging their employees to volunteer tech skills to organizations that lack proper funds and staff. For example, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Advising program allows HPE employees to offer their professional expertise and advice to nonprofits and entrepreneurs at no cost. In the past, HPE employees have helped in a variety of key business areas, including branding and marketing, IT, business planning, managing staff, and recruiting volunteers. Through its partnership with GlobalGiving, HPE has been able to provide support to more than 200 international nonprofits.

Rethinking your employee engagement strategy in 2016? Reach out to our Business Partnerships Team to learn what other companies are doing to build a more motivated workforce: https://www.globalgiving.org/companies/contact-us/ 

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