Creating Value in Your Business Through Human Resources, Part I – Employee Engagement
By Laura Rohde, Chief Learning Officer, Marketing
According to a recent Career Builder survey, 50 percent of today’s employees are fully engaged in their work, 20 percent are somewhat engaged and 30 percent are not engaged at all. These survey results represent trends across a broad spectrum of businesses and industries, so think about your business for a moment, and ask yourself: Would it be acceptable for only half of your workforce to be engaged? A quarter to be somewhat engaged? Nearly a third to not be engaged at all?
The answer to each question must be an emphatic no. All of your employees should be fully engaged, period. Why? Today, businesses of every size and type are competing against one another in a near-unprecedented war for talent. This acute labor shortage has made it more important than ever to attract and retain quality employees so they never want to leave because backfilling them if they do has become very, very difficult—and the value of your business could suffer as a result.
All organizations want to be healthy organizations. And that should be the goal of your business—not only to maximize revenues and profits or enhance value acceleration but to optimize the essential drivers of profitability—your human assets.
There are many elements that go into building and nurturing healthy organizations. In this blog, we highlight one of the key human resources strategies in this effort: employee engagement.
High engagement is an organization’s best predictor of success. Indeed, it directly and indirectly impacts a company’s bottom line—and management has the power to optimize it. Moreover, the effort need not be costly. In fact, increasing employee engagement investments by 10 percent can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year.
That said, only a quarter of today’s business leaders have instituted an employee engagement strategy. If your competitor’s employees aren’t engaged (and by that statistic’s measure, they’re likely not), engagement is a low-cost, high-impact strategy to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Where to start? Here at Marcum our Human Resources Services Group works with many different types of organizations on employee engagement initiatives. In nearly every instance, the first step we recommend is an employee engagement survey. This survey, which utilizes completely anonymous feedback from employees throughout your organization, can yield valuable information to help guide you and your HR advisors in building a customized HR strategy—provided you communicate the purpose up front to gain trust, and then ask the right questions. In all probability, an employee engagement survey will also identify trends, truths and red flags that management may or may not have known about. And since management buy-in is absolutely essential for any employee engagement initiative, they should know what employees are thinking; what is and isn’t important to them; what may be inducing unproductive stress behaviors; and in some cases, what they themselves must do to facilitate greater engagement.
Based on results from engagement surveys, we recommend other best practice initiatives to drive employee engagement at client companies. These include:
Recognition programs. At Marcum, we developed an on-the-spot recognition program that ties directly to our core values. Employees here nominate coworkers for performance or actions that correlate to one of these values (for example, Innovation). Awards are presented to recipients and publicized throughout the firm. It’s a low-cost, feel-good tactic that shines a positive light on all the great work our people do, and that makes everyone feel good. Devising and implementing a program at your company is a tactic worthy of consideration.
Volunteer opportunities. Giving back to the community ties directly to our core values, and is a positive way to make our world better. But implementing volunteer projects also builds a much deeper sense of community among our employees. It gives them an opportunity to work together as team members toward a common purpose, feel good about themselves and their company, make a difference in the lives of others (or the physical environment) and have fun in the process.
Company-sponsored events. Employees spend time with one another in meetings, on the shop floor, in warehouse environments or through daily office interactions. But we humans are social beings—we enjoy interacting with one another. Providing opportunities to do so outside the context of daily work helps employees forge relationships and bonds, breaks down walls between management and employees and simply makes your business a more desirable place to work. Think family night at the ballpark, monthly birthday treats, cookouts, theme days and more. As a starting point, assemble a social/culture committee to solicit employee ideas and feedback (or to implement a survey) and organize initiatives over time.
Rewards. Is creativity and innovation encouraged in your company? What about new business referrals? What’s the outcome if someone generates a great idea, or a money-saving initiative…or if they bring in a new client or customer?
We believe that rewards – in the form of financial compensation, gift cards or other tokens of appreciation – are a great way to incentivize employees and demonstrate your company’s commitment to them. We also recommend that any reward program be accompanied by a strong communication/promotion component. If Sally or Bob devises an innovative solution to a company problem, they should be recognized throughout the organization and congratulated for their efforts.
Miscellaneous diversions. As a top-100 CPA firm, our Accounting and Auditing Group has its hands especially full during the traditional accounting “busy season” from January through mid-April. This year, we introduced a firm-wide busy season bingo game through our interoffice instant message platform that ran daily at 2:00 p.m. as a way to lighten up the mood and delight our employees. Prizes accompanied winning cards, and while the whole initiative didn’t cost much to implement, people really took to it. Funny memes were exchanged, witty banter ensued after numbers were drawn and lots of smiles were generated.
There are other strategies for building healthy organizations that we’ll cover in subsequent blogs. But whether you seek to operate your business into the future, or you’re planning for transition, remember: Thoroughly and thoughtfully engaging your employees should be your business’ first step down this path. Doing so helps to ensure that everyone works toward common goals.
In the end, companies with engaged employees outperform those with unengaged employees by more than 200 percent. Is there any question in your mind which company you want yours to be?