Spinning Wheels on Employee Engagement

Many organizations have a lot of ground to make up and will have to ‘up their digital game’ to recruit and retain the workers needed to pursue new opportunities

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Employee engagement is top of mind at many businesses taking aim at digital transformation. So why isn’t that translating into results?

According to the Gallup organization’s surveys, “employee engagement has barely budged in well over a decade.” Gallup Daily tracking reveals that just 32% of U.S. employees are engaged – “meaning they are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” Globally it’s even worse -- 87% or workers are considered unengaged.

Making Up Ground

That’s a lot of ground to make up, but the payoff is enormous as organizations seek to take advantage of digital business opportunities. Gallup says its studies, which began in the late 1990s, have found that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.

Many business leaders envision a blueprint for digital transformation that is based on an always-connected workforce, deeper engagements through richer collaboration, and security everywhere.

Investing in technology to improve productivity and spur innovation is a necessary ingredient for success, of course. But unless businesses are convinced that automation can replace knowledge workers, they need to pay serious attention to empowering people with the right digital skills, updated processes and an adaptive culture.

Larger Company, Larger Gap

Many larger companies have the most to gain, or lose, with digital transformation. But, disturbingly, Gallup finds that workers at organizations of 1,000 or more employees are less engaged than those at smaller companies, and the engagement gap widens at companies larger than 5,000 workers. That may be one reason why many companies find that getting bigger doesn’t necessarily equate to making more money.

Companies are going to have to compete harder to hire and retain those workers. According to the Randstad organization’s 2016 surveys of hiring managers, 75% of companies agreed it took more time to find the right talent to fill positions than it did the previous year. The average company is 13% understaffed, Randstad says!

How can a business be agile, responsive and quick to take advantage of opportunities if it can’t find the right workers to execute?

No Band Aids

Workers want to be more engaged, empowered, and inspired at work. They tend to be more emotionally invested and focused on creating value every day. They are more inclined to want to work for companies that provide the tools and culture to allow them to be more productive

and responsive.

According to a MIT Sloane Management Review/Deloitte survey, “Employees will be on the lookout for the best digital opportunities, and businesses will have to continually up their digital game to retain and attract them.”

But technology cannot be applied in a band aid manner. “The strength of digital technologies — social, mobile, analytics and cloud — doesn’t lie in the technologies individually,” say the authors of the MIT Sloane report. “Instead, it stems from how companies integrate them to transform their businesses and how they work.”

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