Months ago, the New York Times carried an article titled ‘How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons’. The headline itself was intriguing enough to grab my attention. I vividly recollect how they elaborated upon the integration between the demand and supply by interspersing technology in their everyday operations. The engagement was gamified to facilitate impact ‘on the go’ and voila! The results spoke volumes!
Employee engagement is a concept that aims to accomplish something seemingly unquantifiable – an employee’s happiness and satisfaction at work. However, considering the multiple factors affected by this, such as productivity, attrition, retention, and ultimately financial success, this concept can actually be effectively quantified.
Quantifying the measurable quotient
From the study of 28 years of research on employee engagement, Alex Edman (Professor, London Business School) found that organizations with highly engaged employees showed double the net income than organizations with low engagement scores did. Possibly the most telling statistic was published in a 2016 Gallup study where it was found that organizations with highly engaged employees show 21% increased productivity.
These should be reasons enough to quantify the seemingly unquantifiable and actually calculate the return on investment for employee engagement. Because at the end of day, it all remains a number game. While this sounds sad that in a people management game, this means reducing the ‘people’ to mere numbers, companies run on profit that comes from people doing their jobs well and consistently.
What do the numbers really say?
A 2018 study by Globoforce states that 47% Human Resources heads feel retention and turnover are the biggest HR challenges faced by an organization. CBI, UK carried out a study that found 55% businesses believe that stronger engagement would better facilitate retention, recruitment, and succession planning. Apart from these, the other major factors are absenteeism, presenteeism, and onboarding costs that cumulatively cause financial as well as productivity losses to organizations with low engagement levels.
Studies by AON, one comprising of data from more than 1,000 companies and eight million employee responses also shows that Rewards & Recognition has emerged as the top driving factor impacting employee engagement, followed by close interactions with Senior Leadership.
Making way for new milestones
Certain studies have shown 75% of millennials are willing to take a pay cut if only, they bag the opportunity to work for a values-driven company. In fact, 88% even stated that their job would become more fulfilling, if they were to receive opportunities to make a positive impact on the society via relevant Corporate Social Responsibility opportunities; the ultimate form of encouraging and nurturing team bonding.
Employee engagement at the workplace serves to achieve much beyond employee happiness. While the root cause is indeed the satisfaction of people in the organization, the outcome is a ripple effect, and all the ripples are significantly positive! Look at Starbucks, or Tesco, or any other organization that has been able to create a niche from the least expected origins. Would you claim that it was strategic leadership? Or would you rather second that it was a fabulous team effort? HR heads haunt their senior leadership to walk the talk and lead by example. What we often forget is that their industry experiences itself can be inspirational takeaways for the new-comers. Who says engagement cannot be driven through aspirations?
What does the future behold?
Being a diverse country with many cultural nuances, the task of measuring the Return on Investment on Employee Engagement, Internal communications and other efforts like Employer Branding can be difficult, but not impossible.
The problem does not lie in creating engagement because engagement is in actuality ‘the end result’. The root problem lies in measuring how effective the engagement has been. It is all analytics based on several parameters such as the number of employees, average salary, cost of employee benefits, and annual turnover to ensure that you have a comprehensive report on what impacts the life of an average employee. Complimented with enabling infrastructure and career growth opportunities, this report can smartly be acquired through well-crafted pulse surveys.
Keeping the impact in check
The business line can be effectively impacted by a simple step - tweak your internal communications strategies. I would say that organizations today need to design a competitive work culture that self-sustains engagement. A distinctive company vision statement backed by an employee value proposition that instils a sense of pride and helps every employee align themselves can be the start. Every training counts. Be it onboarding, goal setting, or even mentoring. Each initiative ought to be made more interactive and engaging.
Big Data? Yes! But with empathy. As comprehensive and detailed as possible with the intention of providing a holistic employee experience. If employee expectations are evolving, the experiences should evolve too. It’s definitely time to measure and up your numbers the engagement way!