Why employee engagement will be a priority topic for HR professionals next year

Being able to understand employees’ needs and how they affect performance is a key HR skill

Back in 1990, William Khan highlighted that people bring in and leave out various depths of their selves during their workdays, thus setting out one of the founding principles of engagement at work; since then, employee engagement has become one of the key pillars of HR practice.

Recent surveys confirm that Khan’s analysis remains at the forefront of policy for most HR practitioners and will remain a priority next year, including when analysing managerial and executive behaviour.

The importance of the analysis of employee engagement cannot be overstated. Introducing the right employee engagement strategy can reduce staff turnover, improve the curve of efficiency and productivity, retain customers, and impact the company’s bottom line. Importantly, engaged employees are happier in and out of the workplace.

In a recent survey, 40 per cent of HR respondents said that engagement was a major issue, with its influence on retention and recruitment a close second. When we take into consideration that absence management and wellbeing are the next most important challenges, employee engagement becomes a core issue for HR departments.

Being able to understand employees’ needs and how they affect performance is a key HR skill. Debates about how the future model of work should be developed are sure to be on the agenda for 2019.

Retaining and attracting top talent will always be a priority for HR. The cost of not engaging with your employees could be huge if you lose key decision makers. If you cannot give them a compelling reason for staying in the post or offer career advancement, possibly through training, it is likely that a rival firm will do so.

The staff you want to keep may well be ambitious enough to be looking for alternatives, so engaging and discussing their roles and aims may be the best way to retain them.

It is important that HR professionals have a clear understanding of the two-way street of employee engagement. Is it an employee’s satisfaction with their work situation or their willingness to give their best at work and commitment to the company? The former is most likely to lead to the latter.

Engagement works both ways and HR should understand that constantly reviewing staff feelings will ensure a happy workplace. Raising employee engagement may be easier said than done; however, a top-down approach to engagement is a good starting point, ensuring that HR defines the culture, its purpose, and provides transparency.

This will not only inspire the workforce but also reward its efforts. It will mean your department can measure the outcome of the process once a committed engagement procedure is in place.

Finally, it is crucial that HR departments act on the results of their engagement policy. Once the feedback is in place, action must be taken to show that participation produces change where it is needed and that employee engagement can be a force for good.

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