Winning in today’s economy through employee engagement

Winning in Today's Economy Through Employee Engagement

High national employment rates means difficult hiring processes and lower worker retention rates. How do we maintain employee engagement in today's economy?

If you’ve been paying even just a little attention to the news, you will know that the U.S. economy has been on a long upswing for the better part of a decade for a number of reasons. Unemployment is at its lowest point in over 50 years. According to President Trump’s State of the Union address last week, “…wages are rising fast and, wonderfully, they are rising fastest for low-income workers.”
 
This is, of course, fantastic!
 
There’s a catch though: it creates a tough challenge for anyone in charge of hiring and retaining workers–from CEOs to frontline managers:
 
“I’ve already increased wages, but I still can’t keep my best workers and I’m having trouble attracting the workers I want. It’s driving me crazy! How can I compete without breaking the bank?”
 
Sound familiar?  We hear it all the time.
 
While certainly no one has ever complained about a raise, today’s frontline workers are looking for more than money.
 
Last year, Gallup released the results of an interesting study on the relationship between employee engagement and company performance.  Among its findings are the fact that business teams who scored in the top quartile in terms of employee engagement enjoyed:

  • 41 percent lower absenteeism
  • 24 percent less turnover in high-turnover sectors (the impact on turnover in low-turnover sectors was more than twice this!)
  • 70 percent fewer safety incidents
  • 40 percent fewer defects
  • 10 percent higher customer ratings
  • 17 percent higher productivity
  • 20 percent higher sales and 21 percent higher profitability

The report goes on to outline 12 elements of employee engagement that predict high team performance. Five of these elements struck me as particularly powerful for the frontline worker:

1. “I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.”

2. “In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.”

3. “My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.”

4. “This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.”

5. “My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.”

 
Workers value programs that show that the company truly cares about them. This is especially true if the program not only helps them do their jobs better, but also helps them in their lives outside of work.
 
For instance, the Hub Group, who has seen its injury rate fall 63 percent over three years, credits part of the success of the program to:

  • creating a culture in which workers better watch out for (and correct) one another, and
  • teaching workers things they can apply in their everyday lives.

To read more about Hub’s experience, please click here.
 
Many of the elements Gallup identifies seem obvious when you read them. However, surprisingly (and rather alarmingly!) only a small percentage of employees strongly agree that their employers make those elements available to them. In fact, that same Gallup study reports that globally, 85 percent of employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work.
 
Remember this: the fact that other companies aren’t doing these things well presents an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself, and that’s the good news. Recall a few of the major benefits of employee engagement outlined by Gallup: 70 percent fewer safety incidents, 24 percent lower turnover, 21 percent higher profitability. By taking strides to improve your workers’ engagement, you can keep your best workers, attract the candidates you want, AND improve safety and productivity.
 
…all without breaking the bank!

Curtis Kroeker is the chief operating officer for Worklete, a technology platform that reduces musculoskeletal injuries for transportation, shipping and logistics companies by over 50 percent on average, saving companies millions of dollars a year in direct and indirect workers' compensation costs.

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