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Employee engagement levels follow shifts in economy

The recent 2013 Trends in Global Engagement survey by Aon Hewitt indicated that engagement levels may be influenced by factors outside of a business' control.

Worker satisfaction and performance is a key factor in the ability of organizations to meet their goals. This has made employee reward programs a critical part of management strategies at many companies. However, the recent 2013 Trends in Global Engagement survey by Aon Hewitt indicated that engagement levels may be influenced by factors outside of a business' control.

The source noted that engagement levels ebb and flow with economic forces. When the recession put pressure on organizations to cut spending in 2009, overall engagement fell the following year. The reverse happened once the global economy showed signs of recovery with businesses benefiting from a boost in worker satisfaction, the study revealed.

The change in staff member engagement was related to a number of elements. First, people were less secure financially. Property values were plunging just as businesses were laying off workers. This increases stress, which can lead to frustration and disengagement. Businesses then responded to economic pressure by cutting non-essential programs, many of which were designed to foster a positive and engaging culture. The impact was felt the following year as people saw little appreciation for their hard work, according to the survey.

Trust and communication vital to lifting engagement
The study noted that firms are making progress in improving employee satisfaction as the global economy recovers. However, it found that just 40 percent of workers are actively engaged. This is due mostly to a lack of progress in providing employees with the additional pay they want. Pay freezes and lack of advancement opportunities are common side effects of an economic downturn. Therefore, it is not surprising that the study showed that pay moved from the sixth highest engagement driver to the second between 2011 and 2012.

However, this does not mean that firms should rush to increase pay or bonus structures. Businesses can gain a lot from showing trust and interest in their workers, according to 9inch Marketing. When there is a culture of cooperation, communication and openness, workers can be engaged without expensive employee incentive programs. Thinking outside the box to offer personalized rewards can help businesses extend the effect of recognition. Items that employees will use regularly create a constant reminder about the success that individuals have achieved and the appreciation shown by their organizations. This helps the positive feelings generated by public recognition last longer, offering a better return on investment for companies.

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