Employee engagement, once a nebulous term generally used to describe office morale, today goes beyond arbitrary work environment measurements to focus on how connected employees are to their company and its mission, values, and goals.
Enabling technologies and the emergent millennial workforce have brought the topic of employee engagement to boardroom agendas. Executives recognize the cultural shift these young workers have triggered in business today, as well as the need to use developing technologies to their advantage.
Studies indicate that by 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce. These workers are digitally savvy and socially responsible, tend to be uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures, and are turned off by information silos. They expect rapid progression and a varied and interesting career — and they will quickly move on if their expectations are not met.
As such, retention has become a major concern for companies in every sector. Even popular employers that have been successful in attracting millennials with their perks and benefits still struggle to keep these workers longer than a few years. Therefore, it has become more important than ever for companies to pay closer attention to their workforce and change the way they deliver engagement.
There’s an opportunity to build an onboarding process that does more than provide the typical orientation experience; this can differentiate your organization in the battle for talent.
Research shows that if employees don’t understand where they fit into the overall strategy of their company, they will feel disconnected from the value and mission of the company and will seek employment elsewhere. Humans naturally seek meaning and purpose in employment and feel a need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. From an engagement perspective, companies that can clearly articulate their vision and where their employees sit within the overall achievement of that vision will have a workforce that is much more engaged — and an engaged workforce is a more fulfilled and productive one.
The Science Behind Measuring Engagement
The key to cracking the code on engaging the workforce lies in looking at what is the new normal and how to not only engage millennials, but also generationally appreciate the workforce and look at diversity as it applies to employee engagement. The age-old approach of employee surveys that rely on intangible, qualitative measurements rather than quantitative ones can only take companies today so far. A clearly defined employee engagement strategy driven by enabling technologies is critical to building a workforce that’s engaged with a company’s overall mission and business agenda.
Enabling technologies such as SAP SuccessFactors solutions and SAP Workforce Analytics and Planning are gaining notice from C-suite executives for their ability to create employee engagement snapshots and deliver immediate real-time feedback and predictive measurements that are tangible. In other words, it’s moving beyond traditional total cost of ownership reduction measurements to truly measuring employee engagement with predictive analytics.
PwC works with its clients to develop a truly transformative human capital management strategy leveraging many technologies and resources, such as PwC’s People and Organization practice, its Saratoga People Analytics practice, and its HR technology organization, powered by SAP SuccessFactors solutions and SAP Workforce Analytics and Planning.
To achieve a comprehensive employee engagement solution, companies don’t necessarily need to rip and replace; they need to look at what is core to driving the business outcomes they need and then build a smart, strategic, technology-enabled solution that is driven by HR processes rather than IT. It’s important to not throw money at solutions without building the analytics to be able to show the return on investment.
Key Strategic Steps
We’re in a business climate where only 30% of American workers are engaged at work, resulting in $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost productivity, according to a recent Gallup study. Accordingly, the ability to accurately measure the results of your investments in engagement and to predict engagement performance has a measurable ROI. Comprehensive reporting, along with simple yet highly effective engagement tools, allow for structured, predictive people analytics.
Employee engagement starts long before an employee even considers submitting an application to an organization. Leveraging SAP SuccessFactors onboarding functionality to create a digital experience for a prospective employee is a key first step that sets the stage. There’s an opportunity to build an onboarding process that does more than provide the typical orientation experience; this can differentiate your organization in the battle for talent.
Surveys still have a place in HR and should focus on empowering teams. Timing is also critical. Rather than providing one annual survey, surveys should be more of an ingrained cultural element within an organization and should be positioned as calls to action so as to convey a sense of shared responsibility and ownership. In addition to annual surveys, solutions that allow organizations to do temperature checks in short bursts, every 90 days, will ensure every team member feels they have a voice in the company.
It’s clear that workforce expectations are changing, and companies that adapt to this shift and proceed with a strategy in mind built from the business problem will not only attract talented employees but also retain them longer.