8 HR levers to drive employee engagement
Employee engagement isn’t alchemy. Any organization can do it. Engaging employees in a way that leads to improved performance is all about meeting the specific needs and wants of your people, and taking away some of the pressure they face in their work and their lives. The HR function is in a perfect position to do this, because it has the most effective levers at its disposal. Give all of these a go, and you will drive an employee engagement revolution throughout your company:
- Employee empowerment – everyone wants to contribute to ideas within a company, in order to feel empowered and drive innovation. Google is well-known for being the best at this. Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President of Google’s People Operations, told Forbes that “We try to have as many channels for expression as we can, recognizing that different people, and different ideas, will percolate up in different ways” (1). These include Google’s famous “20 percent” projects, whereby employees (or ‘googlers’) can spend 20% of their working week on any pet project.
- HR analytics – it sounds high tech, but every company has masses of employee data from basic payroll info to time and attendance. HR Analytics is simply the software that makes sense of it all, and identifies whether you could do things better. Dashboards displaying real-time data on employee movements, pay and reward, engagement and satisfaction scores (even instant ‘pulse’ surveys) and team performance: all this can lead to more customized attraction and retention.
- Financial rewards – an employee’s salary drives self-worth, a feeling of respect, and goes hand in hand with how much effort they can be bothered to put into their job.
- Non-financial rewards – A US study found that 64% of Generation Y would rather make $40,000 a year in a job they love than $100,000 a year in a boring one (2). Workplace culture, having fun in and out of work, and relationships with co-workers and managers are really important, as are simple recognition schemes – a trophy on the desk, even one that changes hands each month or each year, could be as valuable for engagement as a financial bonus.
- Employer brand – an employer is no longer simply a business, but a brand. Aon Hewitt says that “strong and engaging cultures have a strong brand.”(3) Every company can’t be as exciting as Google, but they can clarify their values and culture, and live by them across all their actions and communications.
- A strong digital community – communities on social networks of current and former employees is what shapes your employer brand nowadays. For example, ADP’s own #HelloWork launched across social and digital channels to celebrate the human elements that make up the workplace, and in doing so created opportunities to expand perceptions of the company and make the brand more relevant to the work culture.
- Expert partners – HR professionals typically spend three quarters of their time on routine, transactional work, according to research by PwC (4). Transferring this work to an external partner is a key HR lever: by delivering service improvements and relieving in-house teams of a heavy administrative burden, HR and payroll outsourcing has become an important part of the mix.
- Continuous development supported by technology – having an innovative, targeted, comprehensive employee Learning and Development (L&D) strategy in place will help attract and retain people and maintain an engaged workforce and prepare employees for succession.
It’s only 8 steps. But if you take them, you could see your business performance flourish, and find HR rocketing up the strategy hierarchy.
For more HR insights on employee engagement read the latest ADP white paper “Engagement: the key driver of organizational performance”
1 He, Laura (2013), ‘Google’s Secrets of Innovation: Empowering its Employees’, Forbes, 29 March
2 White, J (2014). ‘Millennial generation eager to work, ‘but on their terms’, The Columbus Dispatch. 30 March
3 Aon Hewitt (2015), Trends in Global Employee Engagement report
4 PwC (2012), Key trends in human capital: A global perspective