Engaging Challenge

Winnipeg Free Press, February 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

Engaging Challenge


Ensuring employees have positive approach a key job

While the last few years have found baby-boomer retirement issues holding top priority, the latest human resource surveys are showing that employee engagement is now taking over the primary lead. In fact, one survey reports that 94 per cent of survey participants indicated that employee engagement was the most important workforce challenge they were currently facing.

Yet, what is employee engagement and why are HR managers so concerned? Employee engagement refers to whether or not employees have a positive or negative approach to their work and to whether or not employees are willing and/or not willing to perform at their best in ways that further benefit their employer.

The reason HR managers are concerned about employee engagement is that engaged employees are known to make a strong impact on business success from a profitability point of view and also contribute to a positive work culture.

At the same time, human resource professionals know that a focus on employee engagement has a spillover effect in that other human resource functions such as performance management, employee recognition and employee retention seem to improve. As well, those organizations that track employee engagement scores are also discovering that their managers are much more effective in developing, providing feedback, recognizing and rewarding their employees.

This is good news from two points of view. First, it confirms that leadership styles have transitioned from an autocratic authoritarian style to one of collaboration, coaching and mentoring of employees. Secondly, it is finally giving credence to the fact that employee reward and recognition programs are not simply that annual warm and fuzzy "must have" event but do indeed have real return on investment for a business.

If you really think about it, a fully engaged workforce that outperforms other work groups will essentially become your competitive advantage. And, if employee reward and recognition programs have proven to be a big part of successful employee engagement, then it makes sense to strategically implement a reward and recognition program. This program will become a set of guiding principles that will ensure all forms of your rewards and recognition are in alignment with your business strategy. The following steps to implementation will ensure an effective contribution to your employee engagement.

Secure leadership commitment -- a reward and recognition program must be supported not only by a CEO/president but also by all the executives and managers in a company. Appoint a program champion to oversee the design, development and implementation.

Link rewards to business strategy -- your program must be connected to both the needs and expectations of your workforce as well as to the organizational goals and objectives. Incorporate your company values and goals into the program so that your messages are consistent and employees understand what behaviours are important.

Make the program fair and inclusive -- a reward and recognition program must be able to impact and motivate all of your employees, not just a set of top performers. This now includes consideration for the interests and needs of the various generations of workers in your organization. Establish your selection criteria so that "justice for all" is perceived by your employees which in turn will help to develop trust in your program.

Design for meaning -- consider conducting an employee survey to identify personal interests and suggestions for what would be appreciated in a reward or recognition program.

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