Many companies realize the importance of employee engagement to their success, and a new study has brought that connection home with even more emphasis.
The Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce study, which covered 32,000 employees in 30 countries, showed the strong connection between engaged employees and their performance.
But the study also shows that the traditional way of looking at engagement, usually defined as the desire of an employee to voluntarily put forth more effort into his or her work, no longer is enough to get to the performance needed in today’s globalized business climate.
More is needed – a company’s effort to promote the physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being of its workers. Many companies have wellness programs to help with their employees’ overall well-being, but even this doesn’t go far enough.
To reach this new level of engagement, companies need to shift their efforts from getting more out of people, to putting more into people; that is, helping them to meet their essential needs so that they have what they need to put more of themselves into their work.
The Towers Watson report states that companies need to create policies and practices that help employees manage their workloads, live more balanced lives, and have greater freedom with the way they do their work, and when they do it. These policies cover such things as flexibility and working remotely, limiting lengths of meetings and the time that employees need to respond to e-mail.
When companies are able to rise to this level of engagement, there is a marked difference in the bottom line. In an analysis of 50 global companies, Towers Watson discovered that companies with low engagement had an average operating margin of under 10 percent. Companies with high levels of engagement in the more traditional sense had an average operating margin of 14 percent. But those who were able to achieve these new levels of engagement had an average operating margin of 27 percent.
Employees who described themselves as having a low level of engagement said they were likely to leave their jobs within two years, while among employees with the new levels of engagement, only 18 percent were contemplating leaving their jobs.
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