Human capital is the core competitive advantage that organizations hold today. And companies with top quartile employee engagement have higher revenue growth and higher total shareholder return than other organizations2 while this builds the case for the employee engagement agenda, it is not easy to have people who are actively engaged.
Beyond Engagement Measurement
Lessons from Aon Hewitt Best Employers and Top Companies for Leaders® studies corroborates the need for a holistic approach to engaging employees.
In order to create a great employee experience, there must be ownership and accountability. Top leaders are the ultimate owners of the engagement agenda and must work in tandem with other stakeholders like HR, people managers, the individual employee, and with other senior business leaders. They together must first understand the key engagement drivers.
63% of employees are engaged – 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement report, Aon Hewitt
From Ordinary to Extraordinary
While the above agenda may look obvious, when it comes to implementation, many organizations find it difficult to derive great improvement in engagement levels.
In fact, engagement improved year over year by only one point on average, whereas organizations which were at the 75th percentile had reasonable improvement rates of 5-point improvement year over year. Here’s what did they do to remove themselves from the ordinary, to achieve exceptional engagement levels
• Enabling infrastructure in terms of processes, practices, and resources that help people get work done is the number one thing that top engagement improvers do differently. This is natural, considering that 63% of employees are struggling with barriers to productivity, and removing these basic barriers solved much of their problems, making them engaged.
• Cultivating a favorable culture in terms of leadership, talent, and staffing, EVP was another differentiator.
• Connecting people to purpose by enabling meaningful work experiences for people, and even experiences beyond work. This helps create a sense of belongingness.
• Supporting people development through learning and career opportunities is an essential part of the engagement strategy for those who wish to move from ordinary to extraordinary in employee engagement terms.
Towards continuous commitment
The shift is from mere measurement and issue resolution to a sustainable and ongoing culture change. Clearly, engaging employees is no longer a “periodic check-in,” but a continuous commitment. To be able to build this continuous commitment, leaders must adhere to the following non-negotiables:
1. Embed engagement into business practices.
2. Make senior leaders, people managers, and HR equally accountable
3. Build a maniacal focus on the basics of managing people.
For HR professionals to know, understand and respond to employee’s concerns, but also pre-empt future concerns and take proactive steps requires specialized attention. The mastery of the human science of employee engagement involves business alignment, uncovering insights, embedding engagement through engagement improvement journey and cascading improvement. Certification programs like Certified Engagement Expert by Aon Hewitt Learning Center that cover all these facets will be instrumental in enabling your HR professionals. These capability building programs not just help to understand how to coach and partner with managers but also provide insights on how to drive action plans to make leaders confident about engagement.