As the economy ebbs and flows, employee engagement is rising in importance. More CEOs are talking about it and thinking about new and creative ways to communicate with their workforces. Some interesting stats surfaced from a survey of global HR professionals from Boston Consulting Group and World Federation of People Management Associations. [By the way, that sounds like a new term for the upcoming new year in 2011 -- Federation of (FILL IN). I have not heard it used much except in connection with wrestling (WWF). I might try to use it somehow myself -- Federation of People Interested in Reputation or Federation of PR Professionals or Federation of Reputation Recoverers.]
But back to the point of my blog post. HR executives were asked to rank priorities for the upcoming year and the findings were compared to 2008. Take a look. Enhancing employee engagement has risen over the past two years and for good reason (see below). Leaders need to build morale among the workforce which has been hit hard by the Great Recession and they need to hold on tight to their best talent. It makes sense to keep the dialogue flowing by engaging employees and listening to them. A recent article in Strategy + Business about Zappos reflected on this idea of building the right culture. The head of business development and brand marketing is quoted as saying, “I read about how Zappos is focused on customer service. It isn’t. It’s focused on company culture, which leads to customer service. We don’t talk about customer service; we allow it to happen on its own by having the right people.” And I would add by taking the time to talk to employees and building an open culture.
#1 Improving leadership development (#2 in 2008)
#2 Managing talent (#1 in 2008)
#3 Enhancing employee engagement (#7 in 2008)
Source: BloombergBusinessWeek (9.19.10 issue)
Interestingly and I should add depressingly, work-life balance suffered the most as an action item for HR professionals. In 2008, it was #9 on the agenda and this year it was #16. To build a reputation as a good place to work, employee engagement and work-life balance need to be linked. The Great Recession has knocked out work-life balance issues but I have no doubt that it will come roaring back in time. This next generation demands it. And we owe it to them.