With employee reward and recognition programs, managers aim to spur productivity and create workplace conditions that inspire passion and commitment in team members.
With employee reward and recognition programs, managers aim to spur productivity and create workplace conditions that inspire passion and commitment in team members. These characteristics are what constitute employee engagement, which is a hot topic in the HR world thanks to its recognized value in driving performance and, ultimately, profits. Although employee engagement levels are generally lower than most supervisors would like, a recent study indicated that they're on the rise.
Slow but steady: More workers engaged than previously
Aon Hewitt's 2014 Trends in Global Employee Engagement annual study surveyed more than 7 million employees in over 6,000 companies throughout 155 countries. The report revealed that employee engagement levels rose from 1 percentage point from 2012 to 2013, reaching 61 percent. This represents a 3 percent increase from 2011. Although this change doesn't indicate a rapid transformation, it demonstrates a general trend in the right direction as companies work to improve their management strategies around the world.
"While differences in geography, culture and generation impact what drives engagement for employees globally, Aon Hewitt's research also shows that there is actually more harmony than discord," said Ken Oehler, Aon Hewitt's global engagement practice leader. "Universally, employees want to be part of an organization that offers career opportunities, provides rewards for performance and has a solid reputation."
Making a difference
Companies with the highest levels of engagement were also distinguished by their strong leadership, performance orientation and reputation – and they had the greatest sales growth, operating margins and total shareholder return, the study found. In short, high-performing organizations depend on motivated, invested workers.
"[C]reating this type of organization is impossible without having engaged employees, and companies with low-to-moderate engagement levels will struggle," Oehler added. "Our study shows that organizations overcoming business and people challenges are investing in a culture of engagement built on performance focus, strong reputation and superior leadership. These investments are resulting in stronger company performance."
Employee engagement doesn't happen by itself. The study noted that putting the right foundation in place is critical to success. To assist with this objective, business leaders can implement reward and recognition programs that encourage workers to excel and acknowledge employees' achievements. Such initiatives can be integrated with broader company goals, such as sustainability efforts or value-driven campaigns.
Although other research, such as Gallup's oft-cited study, was less optimistic about employee engagement levels, the Aon Hewitt report illustrated that the management approach is becoming a priority around the world. Therefore, companies should consider ways to get on board so they're not left behind by their competitors.