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Could employee engagement aid the War on Poverty?

It's been 50 years since President Johnson declared war on poverty and unemployment.

It’s been 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty and unemployment. According to the Census Bureau, the poverty level in the United States was still as high as 15 percent in 2012. News coverage regularly focuses on economic recovery, minimum wage discussions and job creation, but could there be other factors?

Ellen Galinsky, President of the Families and Work Institute, suggested in a Huffington Post blog that the workplace environment could have a big role in reducing poverty and unemployment. She emphasized that an engaging, respectful work atmosphere can help low-income workers to succeed.

Galinsky identified workplace factors that correspond well with employee engagement ideals: adequate benefits, job autonomy, learning opportunities, supervisor support for success and family needs, culture of respect and trust as well as workplace flexibility. These attributes encourage low-income employees, many of whom have single families, according to Pew Research, to be productive on the job while taking care of challenges at home. They also increase job satisfaction, performance and retention.

Employee reward and recognition programs can play a role in fostering this beneficial environment. Recognition builds a culture of respect and encouragement while rewards provide benefits and motivation for success.

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