As an employer, it’s important to keep an eye on your workplace’s overall level of engagement. You should understand the factors that can keep your employees plugged in and engaged, as well as what can result in the opposite.
The engaged workplace
The American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) conducted surveys of companies to better pin down how to qualify the notion of engagement. Common qualities cited by respondents included commitment, work ethic, loyalty, job satisfaction, and a sense of accountability. All of these are qualities that employers want to foster in their staff, and the benefits of properly engaging your workplace have been well documented. APQC found that companies that reported high levels of employee engagement also claimed better attendance among workers, higher levels of productivity and innovation, better quality products and services, and even a 19 percent reduction in turnover, contributing to higher overall efficiency and reduced corporate costs, Workforce Magazine reported.
Fortunately for employers, a comprehensive study conducted by Aon Hewitt evaluated engagement levels of 7 million employees across the globe and determined that on the whole, workers are more engaged worldwide than in previous years, and the rate is growing. Specifically, engagement of North American employees rose 2 percent in 2013 to reach a 65 percent engagement rate. Perhaps most surprising was the primary force driving the increased engagement forward. The data revealed that more than pay or other monetary incentives, it’s the promise of future career growth and development that is the main thing keeping workers engaged.
Reaching your employees
As an HR professional, honing your knowledge of what your employees look for in their work environment is key to keeping them engaged and productive. This requires an understanding that employees coming from different cultural, ethnic, or generational backgrounds are influenced by and respond to different motivators. For example, Aon Hewitt’s data revealed that while the baby boomer generation is the most engaged, the younger millennial workforce is currently seeing the lowest level of employee engagement at a mere 56 percent. As the older generations leave the workforce to make way for an increasing number of millennials, it will be crucial for employers to learn what drives this generation so that they can maximize their engagement levels.
Harnessing the right tools
It’s clear that millennials and baby boomers are driven by fundamentally different factors in the workplace.The challenge facing management and HR then is to determine which channels are most effective for reaching their increasing number of younger staff members.
One of the most prominent distinguishing features of the millennial generation is the pervasiveness of technology and social media that saturates the age bracket. Data from the Pew Research Internet Project indicated that 97 percent of all current teenagers play video games, and HR should take this into consideration when it comes time to develop new corporate training programs and consider embracing the growing trend of gamification.
Gamification is growing
While commonly associated with the online age and targeted largely to digital natives, gamification as a concept is not tremendously new. In fact, The Globe & Mail cited two well-established and widely known instances of gamification in our society at Weight Watchers and the Boy Scouts of America.
Functionally speaking, gamification is the process of integrating conventional game mechanics such as scores, leaderboards, badges, and awards into existing structures. Its purpose is to tap into employees’ drive to chase visible progress as a motivator to perform, leading to better learning results and increased retention, the Smithsonian Science Education Center reported. The secret to its success lies in the independently driven structure of gamified systems. Rather than being fed information for passive consumption, a corporate training program that has been properly gamified encourages employees to self-motivate, providing incentives through things like earning badges and high scores.
This active participation can directly contribute to greater employee engagement. According to Gartner vice president Brian Burke, the goal HR should shoot for when considering designing a gamified training program is to make sure that the employees’ personal goals of advancing through the designed system aligns with the corporate goal—be it imparting important job information, improving customer service practices, or disseminating new policies such as awareness and support of greater corporate diversity.
“Gamification breaks the learning process into small, achievable steps and provides constant feedback and encouragement throughout the process,” Mr.Burke told the Globe & Mail.
Companies can also leverage gamification to bridge international borders. Corporations with offices in multiple countries can turn to gamification to administer things like corporate language training, which will help prepare executives and workers alike for an ever-increasing globalized workforce.