Article: THE STATE OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT - 2010

Employee Engagement

THE STATE OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT - 2010

HR Anexi shares with People Matters the Global Employee Engagement - 2010 and its India findings
 

Engaged employees have alignment between their own future success and achievement of the organisation's mission and goals

 

The global survey ranks India as No. 1 country with 37% fully engaged employees (a little over 1 in every 3 employees)

 

ROLE OF THE LEADER: A BlessingWhite & HR Anexi Global Survey Report

Hiring and retaining talented people isn’t enough these days. If your skilled human resources aren’t focused on the right things and motivated to provide maximum contribution, the organization can end up like a sports team with a big payroll, a bench of sidelined stars and a losing season. You don’t need us to tell you that your organization’s success depends on your employees being committed and focusing their unique talents on what matters most. HR Anexi shares with People Matters the Global Employee Engagement - 2010 and its India findings on how enthused and in gear are our employees to use their talents to make a difference in our businesses

Employee Engagement has been a hot subject in corporate circles for several years now. It’s a buzz phrase that has captured the attention of business leaders and HR managers. And it’s a subject that employers and employees alike think they understand, yet can’t articulate very easily. In fact in the recent Economist Survey, employee engagement is listed with revenue growth and strategy development as a top management challenge.
If we look at the Web search trends over the last five years, the search for Employee Engagement or related material has been on the rise. On the contrary, Leadership Development has steadily decreased in search volume, refuting the argument that some may make that internet volume has significantly increased over the years, creating an upward trend in search term volume.

The Engagement Equation
The term Employee Engagement means different things to different organizations. Some equate it only with job satisfaction and morale, which unfortunately can reflect a transactional relationship that is only as good as the organization’s last round of perks or bonuses. Others measure engagement by gauging employees’ emotional commitment to their organization. Although commitment, job satisfaction and morale are important ingredients, they are only a piece of the real engagement equation.
Organizations are keen to maximize the contribution of each individual toward achieving corporate goals - imperatives and metrics, while individual employees need to find purpose and satisfaction in their work. Consequently, BlessingWhite’s engagement model focuses on two independent variables - an individual’s:
Contribution to the company’s success
Personal satisfaction in their job role.
Aligning employees’ satisfaction - determined by their personal values, goals, and aspirations, with their efforts to achieve the organization’s goals and support the organization’s values defines true ‘employee engagement’.
Full engagement represents an alignment of maximum job satisfaction (“I like my work and do it to the best of my ability”) with maximum job contribution (“I am focused on achieving the goals that are important for my organization’s success”).
Engaged employees are not just committed. They are not just passionate or proud. They also have alignment between their own future success and achievement of the organization’s mission and goals. They are enthused and in gear, using their talents and providing discretionary effort to make a difference in their employer’s quest for sustainable business success.
The recently concluded BlessingWhite – HR Anexi Global Engagement Survey – 2010 research plots employees on these two axes and identifies five distinct levels of engagement:
1) Fully Engaged 4) Crash & Burners
2) Almost Engaged 5) The Disengaged
3) Honeymooners & Hamsters

The Global Study
The Employee Engagement 2010: The Leader’s Role global study reflects tens of thousands of responses to an online survey and in-depth interviews conducted during August to November 2010. India made up 21% of the global data pool from individuals in North America, China, South East Asia, UK/Europe, Australia & New Zealand and India.
The study was designed to re-evaluate and build on lessons learned from past BlessingWhite research into employee engagement (previous studies have been completed in 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008), providing insights into what employees are looking for at work, the factors that drive engagement and what people believe makes for a ‘good’ career.
This 2010 study reveals a particular emphasis on the essential role of leaders in determining and either enhancing or reducing engagement not just with their own direct reports but also across the organization they work with. We obtained input on both the direct manager and senior leaders’ performance revealing significant insights into where leaders are failing to solve the engagement equation and where they should be focussing their efforts.
The study provides an insight into what employees are looking for at work, the factors that drive engagement and what people believe makes for a ‘good’ career. This 2010 study showcases and emphasises the essential Role of Leaders in companies today. The report unveils the impact of leader’s role in determining, enhancing and reducing engagement of their direct reports as well as across the organization. The study captures both the direct manager and senior leaders’ performance revealing significant insights into where leaders are failing to solve the engagement equation and where they should be focussing their efforts.

Indians are Highly Engaged vis-à-vis their Global Counterparts
The global survey ranks India as No. 1 country with 37% fully engaged employees (a little over 1 in every 3 employees).
Close to another one third of employees (30%) are Almost Engaged - with reasonably high levels of both Contribution and Satisfaction.
However, more than 1 in 10 (12%) are actively Disengaged – unhappy and a drain on the organization’s success.
Almost 1 in 10 (9%) are Honeymooners & Hamsters, made up about equally of 4% Honeymooners – still new in their job, feeling satisfied and ready but as yet not capable of maximum contribution and 5% Hamsters – happily spinning their wheels.
In addition, more than 1 in 10 (12%) are Crash & Burners, currently maintaining a high level of Contribution while feeling ‘used’, taken advantage of or bored and not challenged. In any event, these employees are likely to quit and leave – taking their high level contribution with them in search of a ‘better’ job, or quit but stay – withdrawing their discretionary effort and contributing less.

India Tops the Chart
India has the highest number of engaged employees in the world (equal with Australia / New Zealand) and the lowest level of disengaged employees, whereas China has highest number of disengaged employees.
India ranks no.1 along with Australia in Fully engaged category and with least number of disengaged employees. China scoring the least number of engaged employees and maximum disengaged employees.

Younger Employees are Less Engaged
In terms of future organization success Generation Y respondents, the youngest employees (born 1978 – 1994) show significantly lower levels of Engagement and higher Disengagement as compared to Generation X (born 1965 – 1977) and then Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) and this is true across the globe.

Males are More Engaged
Men are almost 40% more Engaged (11% more are ‘Fully Engaged’ and 3% less are ‘Disengaged’) compared to the female population.
While this difference in engagement levels between males and females is even more apparent in China, where overall engagement levels are significantly lower, this is not so much the case in Australia, USA or UK/Europe. Females are more disengaged than the males in India.

Things Look Rosier at the Top
More than half of vice presidents or above are fully engaged – compared to about a quarter of individual contributors such as administrative staff or specialists.
So if you think of the generational differences – the question is: How much of younger employees’ disengagement results from being low man on the totem pole? (or bottom of the food chain)
Another factor to consider… Are the individuals who are more engaged the ones who are getting promoted and continue to be engaged regardless of their position?
From another perspective, organizations need to consider this aspect with caution as this also indicates that the other half of the senior executives might be instable and are sitting on the fence.
We have already established that Leaders drive engagement and if 50% of them are not fully engaged, younger managers might be at a loss.

Would you Remain with your Employer in 2011?
“No way” rose from a low 2% to 8% in 2010

Engagement and Retention in India
…who will quit and leave?
…who will stay?
…who will quit and stay?

Talent retention is a challenge many organizations face and yet high average tenure is not directly correlated with high-performance organizations. Staying doesn’t necessarily indicate motivation to do great work.
Organizations need to focus on keeping and motivating the right people, ensuring they have the right environment to produce maximum contribution and obtain maximum satisfaction.
“Assuming you have a choice, do you plan to remain with your organization for the next twelve months?”
Only 59% people answered as “Yes Definitely” It fell by 22%, compared to a high 81% in 2008! “No way” rose from a low 2% to 8% in 2010.
This means that more than 1 in every 3 employees is potentially on the move. There are considerable implications for talent retention strategies. The ‘best and brightest’ are looking for more opportunities to do what they do best and be rewarded for doing it!

What would Make you Stay?
When asked “What is the most important factor influencing your plans to stay with the organization?
Career opportunities, work and a belief in what the organization is aiming to achieve stood out as the most significant reasons to stay. These are all much more significant than financial rewards (4%).
Regardless of their current engagement level, people are looking for similar things. So, the number one reason for those Crash & Burners choosing to stay and continue giving it their all, despite low levels of satisfaction, was thatbecause they like the work that they do. They are also still hoping for career opportunities (21% selected this as their number one) However, a significantly higher number, compared to those Engaged, are staying for the financial rewards (11% vs. 2%) – ‘golden hand-cuffs’, considering their low level of satisfaction!
The majority of both Generation X (15%) and Generation Y (16%) are choosing to remain with their current organization for their career and the significant development or advancement opportunities that they have believe will be offered where they are. Whilst Baby Boomers are choosing to stay for work they like (28%) or a corporate mission they believe in (15%).

What Drives Engagement? – Contribution & Satisfaction
What Influences Employee Contribution
The most important way to improve Contribution is to provide greater clarity about the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of performance (23%). This finding is similar to our observations that the most important reason for a failure to achieve goals is that the actual goal and the expected standards of achievement had not been made clear in the first place. Of equal importance was providing development opportunities and training, closely followed by regular, specific feedback (21%).

What Drives Satisfaction
In India, as in China and South East Asia, the top factor identified by respondents as influencing job satisfaction is ‘career development and training’. Nearly a third (28%) of India respondents selected this and then ‘More opportunities to do what I do best’ ranks second (21%). While in Australia/NZ, Europe and North America the number one response is ‘More opportunities to do what I do best’.

Who Owns Engagement
Employee engagement is a complex equation which reflects each individual’s unique personal relationship at workplace. The study shows that progressive organizations drive engagement initiatives at all 3 levels – Individuals, Managers and Executives.
Managers in India are amongst the best in the world on encouraging employees to use their talent freely, asking for their suggestions and inputs and also taking action on them. This is respectively 9% and 7% more than the global average. However, managers in India may need to focus more on recognizing and rewarding the achievements of the Crash & Burners - only 9% report receiving acceptable levels of recognition and reward from their direct manager.

 

<My Manager…                                             Engaged*  Vs.  Disengaged*                   India                             Global</</p>

<</</p><</ <p><                                                                                                                                        Average                      Average</</p>

<</</p><</ <p>Encourages me to use my talents                          88%                       46%                       77%                             68%

Asks for and acts on my input                               87%                       44%                       76%                             69%

Recognizes and rewards my        
achievements                                                         77%                       26%                       62%                             56%

Offers regular & specific feedback                       78%                       31%                       65%                             54%

Delegates assignments effectively                        79%                       35%                       66%                             67%

without micromanaging me                            

My manager builds a sense of                                82%                       36%                       70%                             59%

belonging in our department or team            

I understand how my own work priorities              99%                       45%                       87%                             83%
support the organization's strategy

 

 


One of the most important ingredients of increased engagement is constructive feedback from managers about how employees have done and what they need to do more. But only 65% of employees in India report that they receive regular and specific feedback from their manager; compared to a global average of 54%.
The second most important ingredient is when Managers and senior leaders build a sense of community and trust among the employees and make them feel belonged. The Engaged (82%), the Almost Engaged (79%) and the Honeymooners & Hamsters (64%) all indicated they felt a reasonable sense of belonging to their team. However, the Crash & Burners (44%) & the Disengaged (64%) report that their managers are not offering them a sense of belonging. This gives birth to the strong need of increasing communal relationship building in the organization.
Trust in senior leaders for India (75%) is higher than the global average (61%).This score was recorded high across the levels of engagement also - the Engaged (92%), The Almost Engaged (82%) and the Honeymooners & Hamsters (70%).
The region- wise comparison in the study also places India at the top with 75% of people trusting their senior leaders in the organiszations, followed by china with 65%.

Implications & Key Recommendations
Employee engagement is a complex equation that reflects each individual’s unique, personal relationship with work. As such, there are limits to what organizations can do with broad-brush workforce processes or communication programs.
Consequently, progressive organizations drive initiatives at three levels of the workforce: individuals (I), managers (M), and executives (E).

Individuals are advised to
Own their engagement. They come to work with unique motivators, interests and talents. They must be responsible for their personal and professional success.
Be clear on what is important to them. If employees do not know their most important values and goals, they will not achieve satisfaction on the job.
Take action. Employees cannot wait for a tap on the shoulder to signal a move into their next job. They need to take initiative to build their skill sets and find opportunities to apply their talents to drive the organization’s goals.
Organizations must help employees redefine career success to encompass lateral moves, skill development, stretch assignments and special projects – not just promotions or advancement. They need to provide development opportunities and tools to help younger employees, in particular, determine their personal definition of success so they can achieve it at their current employer rather than go elsewhere in search of a vague or misguided career aspirations.

Managers are advised to
Take control of their own engagement. They, too, are employees. And a dead battery cannot jump start another. A mis-directed manager cannot align team members to organizational goals.
Facilitate team members’ unique engagement equations. Managers cannot “make” employees engaged. They can build their understanding of each team member’s unique interests, talents, and aspirations. They can coach each employee to higher levels of engagement.
Align every individual’s passion and proficiency with organizational priorities and projects. Disengaged employees are disconnected and disillusioned. To prevent this from happening, managers need to stay in regular contact with their teams to ensure employees are reminded of the things they can do to increase both their contribution and satisfaction.
Organizations must ensure that managers have a clear line of sight to organizational goals so they can align employee efforts and talents accordingly. They need to equip managers with processes and tools for building mutually beneficial employee relationships that support effective, efficient coaching.

Executives are advised to
Commit or quit. Senior leaders need to reflect on why they joined and why they stay. They need to monitor and manage their own engagement or they will bring down the workforce around them.
Set a clear direction. They are responsible for shaping the organization’s direction and definition of success, without which the maximum contribution of employees is impossible.
Inspire commitment. They need to ensure that all employees not only understand what needs to be done but also care enough to apply discretionary effort.
Build a culture that fuels engagement. Culture has been likened to the tide: As the tide rises, so do all the boats. Senior leaders set the tone for culture in what they do and what they say.


THE SURVEY METHODOLOGY

BlessingWhite (a global consulting firm based in the US), in strategic alliance with HR Anexi (a leading HR consulting, outsourcing & training organization with its HQ in Mumbai), conducted a global research study which captured responses across continents towards the state of employee engagement in 2010. For more details on survey, log on to www.hranexi.com or write to engage2010@hranexi.com
 

Ashish Arora is the MD - HR Anexi

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Strategic HR, Culture

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