Engaging Today's Workforce

What we’ve learned about employee engagement through over 25 years of research

Over the past twenty five years, interest in employee engagement has increased dramatically. A Google search of employee engagement yields close to 12 million entries. Amazon has over 8,000 employee engagement books. The Engagement Institute recently found that 82% of organizations have a formal employee engagement program and 60% have had a formal program in place for at least five years. And, in Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends study, CEOs identified employee engagement as one of the most critical factors they need to understand to drive performance in their organization.

The concept has become so widespread that it now seems to represent more than just a psychological construct. Considering how broadly accepted engagement is as a human capital concept, one could argue that engagement has become more of a movement than a measurement, representing a core part of the current management zeitgeist.

However, in many organizations, there is a growing concern that employee engagement campaigns are not living up to their promise. For some leaders and managers, compelling insights are hard to glean from their engagement survey results. Engagement-building recommendations seem impractical and out of touch with the real frustrations that employees are experiencing on a daily basis. And the bottom-line impact of engagement programs and trainings seems murky and theoretical.

At Mercer | Sirota, we think it is time for HR decision makers to reevaluate their employee engagement efforts. If your organization is chasing metrics, conducting quarterly pulses, or launching continuous listening campaigns without a clear set of research and business objectives, you are probably generating a lot of data and reports, but little insight or impact. Instead of following the herd, we recommend building a comprehensive employee research program that allows you to (a) identify personal and organizational factors that impact performance; (b) evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your employee value proposition, and (c) develop a deeper understanding of the employee experience, such that each of the three core needs of workers (captured in our Three Factor Theory of Human Motivation in the Workplace model below) are addressed. Organizations that focus on optimizing their employees’ performance, rewards, and experiences will be best prepared to meet the challenges of the day.

Figure 1: Three Critical Needs At Work to Foster Employee Engagement

Engaging Today's Workforce