Move Employee Engagement to the Top of HR Leaders Agendas During an Economic Downturn

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Lightspeed Research - The Foresight Group, a global provider of innovative employee survey solutions, discussed today the impact of the current economic climate and the affect on employee engagement.

Stressful economic times can tempt companies to move employee engagement issues toward the bottom of HR and Leadership agendas, yet with such a strong correlation between higher levels of engagement and higher levels of performance, continuing to survey employees and offer them a voice in the business just makes good business sense.

Lightspeed Research - The Foresight Group, http://www.foresightint.com, a global provider of innovative employee survey solutions, discussed today the impact of the current economic climate and the affect on employee engagement. Mike Schroeder, President of The Foresight Group, said, "Stressful economic times can tempt companies to move employee engagement issues toward the bottom of HR and Leadership agendas, yet with such a strong correlation between higher levels of engagement and higher levels of performance, continuing to survey employees and offer them a voice in the business just makes good business sense."

Move employee engagement to the top (not the bottom) of HR agendas during an economic downturn;

Today's mounting economic pressures are prompting companies to close locations, freeze hiring, restructure operations and institute layoffs. Viewed mostly as cost-cutting measures, senior leaders and human resource professionals often underestimate the effects such actions have on their workforce. Surviving employees asked to do more with less can experience an increase in stress and a drop in commitment that can negatively impact individual and organizational performance, which can immobilize a company at a time when employees need to rally together to increase efficiency and secure new business.

Jerry Halamaj, Director and Senior Consultant with The Foresight Group, said, "The health of an organization's employee relations (measured by employee engagement) is critical to its ability to respond to and manage current and future change. Organizations with high engagement levels tend to have strong trust in leadership. Employees are more apt to embrace big changes when they believe in the company and its leaders."

Use survey data to strengthen the organization;

Certain HR practices, such as employee surveys, can not only buffer the effects of large-scale initiatives an organization may undertake during tough economic times, but actually strengthen the culture and increase engagement. Using surveys to understand employees at all levels of the organization and how they implement corporate objectives can help companies obtain a thorough understanding of the most critical issues that affect the motivation and behaviors of employees. With this information in hand, organizations can identify key areas of improvement that will enhance performance while limiting surprises and avoiding knee-jerk reactions to problems.

Most companies are familiar with the concept that you have to spend money to make money, but in a down market you may need to spend money to save money. One of the largest expenses to organizations - in both up and down markets -- is employee turnover. The cost of replacing key employees can exceed over 1.5 times their annual salaries when factoring in the amount spent on recruiting, training, lost production and redirecting the efforts of managers and employees in their absence. By identifying and measuring the drivers of engagement through surveying, companies can focus on the most important issues; retain more employees and avoid the high costs associated with increased attrition.

The greater the percentage of workers laid off, the larger the turnover rate tends to be. As a result, companies that downsize as a cost-cutting measure may later find themselves understaffed. Measuring engagement and identifying the drivers unique to the organization can be an effective way to stay abreast of the most important issues and take the necessary steps to retain employees.

5 ways to boost engagement

Research clearly shows that engaged employees perform better. In an environment where financial factors are difficult to manage, an increase in employee engagement -- even a modest increase -- can be a true competitive advantage. Here are five ways to boost employee engagement during difficult economic times:

  •     Consistently communicate organizational goals and objectives and clearly state what employees can do to help the company achieve them.
  •     Align corporate goals to the day-to-day work of employees whenever possible. Reinforce that their contributions matter.
  •     Regularly use surveys to do a pulse check on employee engagement levels and the affect past improvements have had on the workforce.
  •     Invest in helping leaders develop the skills to create work environments that foster a high performance culture and engaged employees.
  •     Acknowledge employees for a job well done and offer them opportunities to learn new skills and leverage their talents.

Lightspeed Research - The Foresight Group
Lightspeed Research - The Foresight Group, a WPP (WPPGY) company in the Kantar Group, is a leader in survey research, consulting and technology. The Foresight Group helps global companies convert employee and customer survey data into actions that create a more engaged high performance workforce and increase customer loyalty. The Foresight Group's client list includes hundreds of multinational organizations with combined annual revenues in excess of $100 billion.

The Foresight Group is at the forefront in providing impactful and cost effective employee engagement programs for leading global clients. Ever increasing pressures to retain employees, boost productivity and control costs has led to greater demand for survey services that provide reliable feedback to management while enhancing employee engagement and satisfaction.

The Foresight Group's expertise in employee engagement, high performance organizations, and extensive normative benchmark data, delivered through a proprietary ASP survey technology, has made them an industry leader in employee research.

To learn more about high performing organizations, please join us for a complimentary one hour HRCI credit approved webinar titled, High Performance Cultural Attributes and Their Relationship to Outcomes, December 9, 2008. To register, visit our website, http://www.foresightint.com and click on the Resource Center.

Press Inquiries
Lightspeed Research - The Foresight Group
Christy Kessler
+1 (847) 726-4040, ext. 234.

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