The Future: from thought leaders: So who will go that extra mile?

This article is brought to you by Hewitt

Jenny%20MerryEmployee research will yield invaluable data on levels of engagement, says Jenny Merry, head of UK Engagement Practice, Hewitt Associates

Engaged employees are a key ingredient in the success of organisations at any time. During the recession, they are vital. So how can we drive up engagement when there is so much doom and gloom, with cost cutting and perhaps downsizing being the order of the day? Organisations have been gathering and reviewing feedback from employees on their work experience for many years. In fact, employee surveys are a regular feature on organisations’ calendars. What is changing, however, is the realisation that employers could and should be making better use of the information that is collected.

Over the years, Hewitt’s employee research focus has evolved from gathering and analysing employees’ opinions or their approval ratings of different aspects of the employee experience, for example learning and development opportunities, pay and work-life balance.

Hewitt has established an index that reflects three important employee behaviours – say, stay and strive. Our analysis from more than 30 years has enabled us to define the extent to which employees are likely to: say positive things about their employer; stay and be committed to the organisation; and strive for the organisation, going the extra mile. These three deceptively simple elements are strongly correlated with business results.

Employee engagement is therefore a critical indicator of an organisation’s health, and data collected should be properly understood and acted upon. This data gives organisations the opportunity to play to the strengths that their engaged staff can deliver while working with their disengaged workers to understand what actions they should be taking to remedy the situation.

Looking at different demographic cuts such as age, length of service and gender, helps to locate where these different populations are within the organisation. For example, a common finding is that younger employees are often less engaged and their engagement is typically driven by factors such as a heightened need for a sense of accomplishment.

However, for really meaningful and actionable differences, we have taken a cue from customer research and are increasingly working with our clients to segment employees based on their values, behaviours, engagement levels and drivers. In our Workforce Engagement Profile study, employees are found, typically, to fall into five engagement segments or clusters – passionate advocates, enthusiastic followers, under-rewarded supporters, the disenchanted, unrealised potentials and detractors. No age or generational group defines any of the engagement segments and employees of all generations are likely to be among the segments.

Additional insight can be gained from this form of analysis, identifying the drivers of engagement for each distinct group and developing appropriate action plans.

Segmentation can also involve looking at engagement levels for high-performing or high-potential employees to ensure actions are taken to address any risk of losing or not getting the most out of these critical groups.

The main purpose of any employee research is always about being action-focused to deliver improved business performance. This involves effectively mining the employee survey data that has been gathered and using it in conjunction with other key performance indicators.

Analysing employee engagement data will help any employer prepare their organisation for the future. In these challenging times, it will be crucial to keep those who are motivated and to work a little harder to engage those who have the potential to go that extra mile.

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The views and opinions in this article are those of our sponsor Hewitt, and do not necessarily reflect those of www.employeebenefits.co.uk