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Trending: Employee Engagement (If not now, soon)

Every so often we try to take a step back here at New Directions and analyze the landscape of organizational development.  Where are we at and where are we all going?  What will we be talking about in 3-5 years? What do our clients need to know today to prepare for tomorrow? These are some of the questions we ask, and in turn, look for answers.  Because we converse and cross-pollinate with many different types of clients, organizations and industries, it’s in our best interest to have a good pulse on what’s trending or what will be trending.

We’ve mentioned it before, but recently we’ve been coming back to these words and idea: Employee Engagement.  In a nutshell this is what we see:

  • 7 out of 10 employees report that they are mildly to severely disengaged with their employer.
  • Employees with lower engagement are 4 times more likely to leave their jobs than those who are highly engaged.
  • Disengaged managers are 3 times more likely to have disengaged employees.
  • The 80-90 million Millennials entering the workforce have a different definition of engagement, satisfaction and empowerment than previous generations, with the vast majority of Millennials (90%) not planning to stay with any given employer for more than five years.
  • During the recession 6,000 Baby Boomers were retiring a day; that number will only increase as the market becomes healthier leaving many organizations with knowledge gaps and void of veteran strategic thinkers.
  • 75% of organizations report not having an Employee Engagement Strategy but companies with engaged employees outperform those with disengaged employees by 202%.

We believe the key conversation (and conversely training, workshop, service and consulting we provide) in the next three to five years will be around how do we redefine our workplace and create an Employee Engagement Strategy that yields practical and strategic results.  According to Bersin and Associates, the current annual amount spent on employee engagement is $720 million.  They expect that to increase drastically to about $1.5 billion in the coming years.

Where are you in this conversation?  Is this a topic that is constantly being discussed at a senior level?  Do you have an Employee Engagement Strategy or have you discussed building one?  If you have discussed engagement, has it filtered down to the managerial and supervisory levels in real action plans?

In their new book, The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age authors Hoffman (Co-founder of LinkedIn), Casnocha and Yeh challenge us to face the fact that the employer-employee relationship is broken.  What used to exist as a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship between employee and organization (we invest in you, you work for us) crumbled as organizations broke that relationship during the recent Recession.  “Today, few companies offer guaranteed employment with a straight face; such assurances are perceived by employees as naïve, disingenuous, or both. Many employees have responded by hedging their bets and jumping ship whenever a new opportunity presents itself, regardless of how they profess their loyalty during the recruiting process…” The lack of trust and transparency between the two parties has left both a bit gun-shy.  And then enter the Millennials!  Their outlook has gone like this:  reached adolescence in a time of great strife and insecurity (9/11, wars, economic collapse, massive debt), watched as their parents of 50+ years were fired, watched as their parent’s life savings were dissolved in a crashing market, and watched as the stock market and many public companies rebounded aggressively after the recession only to leave Millennials with an unemployment rate that rivals the Great Depression (21% unemployment rate at the height of the Great Depression vs. 16.1% unemployment rate of Millennials in April of 2013).

The age of ‘we provide lifelong employment in exchange for loyal service’ is dead.  The world has changed; business has changed philosophically, structurally, and technologically.  “The traditional model of lifetime employment, so well-suited to periods of relative stability, is too rigid for today’s networked age,” point out the authors of the book.

So, with those facts, numbers and revelations, New Directions has begun to ask what does this mean for organizational strategy and health?  How do we develop the leaders who can actually engage employees beyond the prevailing rhetoric?  What training and development is needed?  How do we build an Employee Engagement Strategy that takes the best of the current situation and redefines the workplace into a dynamic culture that will guarantee future success?

Some of the work has already been seeded. New Directions’ work with high performance teams, workplace generations specifically focused on the Millennial, continuous improvement and quality excellence, and rigorous leadership trainings and programs is the start of what the next workplace will need.  Stay tuned as we continue to push this conversation to the front of emerging trends and challenge it head on.  Also, if you’re working in this area in your organization, let us know.  We love to share success stories!

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An innovative training and employee development firm located in southern Vermont since 1984, we specialize in helping organizations get the most out of their people by raising the bar, inspiring potential and partnering with organizations to build a people-centered, high-engagement culture.

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