When members of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) were polled on the validity of the employee engagement metric in the today’s workplace, 80 per cent came back with a strong affirmation.
More than one-third said it's a concept that's increased in importance over the years, found the survey of 850 HR professionals.
Seventy-six per cent of respondents agreed engagement means different things to different generations: Mature workers want to be valued as full contributors, rather than people nearing the end of their careers, while millennials want continuous learning and advancement opportunities — they really want to enjoy their work and want their voices to be heard.
"Respondents said the most commonly shared drivers of engagement are supportive managers, compelling work, career opportunities, good salary, work-life balance and recognition," said Kristina Hidas, HRPA's vice-president of HR research and development.
Comments to the survey provided five tips on building an engaged workforce:
Know them: It is vital for managers to know their employees. Senior leaders should know and understand their workforce while every front-line manager should know the individuals on her team.
"You want someone to be engaged when they show up at work? Know that they have a sick parent, or kids, or that they're training for a race, or love to play cards. Remember who they are when they leave at the end of the day."
Grow them: Help employees to improve their skills, including providing training and career development.
"Too often we think 'growing employees' means developing a formal internal career path or doing courses at night. Wrong. There are many ways to grow employees and they all make them feel more engaged in their work lives. Send someone who's afraid of public speaking to Toastmasters, support someone's hobby, encourage a worker to do a presentation on her favourite charity. These are all growth opportunities and they make all the difference in how people feel about their work."
Inspire them: Every worker should know exactly how his efforts support the organization's strategy.
"This means keeping employees in touch with every aspect of what the organization is doing and showing them that we are all working to a larger strategy and vision. When people feel they are part of something bigger, they're engaged in it."
Involve them: Solicit employee input to leverage their experience and foster creative problem-solving.
"Get employees involved in challenges that don't directly touch them. If they can give an opinion on an issue that affects another team, it's good for everyone. It generates ownership, and ownership leads to engagement."
Reward them: Aside from compensation, reward employees according to what they value.
"Compensation means a lot of things. We have to pay employees fairly and competitively. But it also means benefits and vacation, flex hours and the ability to work from home. One of the pillars of engagement is the ability to compensate individuals according to what they value, and according to what stage they're at in their personal lives."