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To Close Talent Gap, Companies Need Greater Emphasis on Employee Engagement

Candidate and employee engagement is often referred to as a key priority for HR leaders, and while there’s a lot of activity going on to address this, the indications are that more needs to be done.

In its latest white paper, Workforce Horizons, Capita reflects on the issues and challenges HR and resourcing leaders must overcome as they attempt to impact the bottom line, and high on the list of future priorities for the HR organizations surveyed is candidate engagement, along with skill shortages, quality of hire, and employer branding.

According to the Harvard Business Review, companies spend ~$720m each year on employee engagement and this is expected to grow to ~$1.5bn per year. However, employee engagement rates continue to score poorly. Studies by the Gallup organization over the last 15 years consistently reveal that only ~30% of employees are considered ‘engaged’.

HR service providers are actively trying to build capability to help organizations improve employee engagement. Here are just a few recent examples:

  • In December 2015, Capita announced the acquisition of Work Group Plc Consultancy and Resourcing Operations to strengthen its employer branding and employee engagement consulting capability
  • In October 2015, Xerox Services launched a new HR portal, Xerox Life Connect Solution, to improve employee engagement and access to workplace health, wealth, and career programs
  • In July 2015, Ceridian launched a team-building tool, TeamRelate. TeamRelate assesses individual leadership styles, core convictions, and motivators to understand how employees can relate to each other better, and hence lead to greater engagement and productivity. Employee engagement is one of Ceridian’s top 3 business priorities.

Many businesses believe social/online media (74%), branded mobile apps (49%) and talent communities (45%) will become more important for future employee engagement over the next ten years. ADP, for one, recognized this back in 2013 when it launched the ADP Recruiting Management platform, which includes mobile and social media capabilities to enhance the talent acquisition process. The platform includes social and mobile tools to enable targeted communication and talent community creation, helping to build an employer’s brand, expand candidate reach, and boost interaction and engagement.

Talent acquisition providers are already walking the talk. At Randstad Sourceright the quality and loyalty of its employees is demonstrated by a single digit attrition rate. Approximately 80% of the entire RPO workforce is virtual, yet recruiters keep engaged by various means including participating in a Google+ community.

All of the above is important, but my own take is that the greatest impact on employee engagement will need to come from an organization’s senior leaders, down through line managers/supervisors. One very important thing that can be done to increase employee engagement with little or no expense is to improve employee recognition. According to Dr. Bob Nelson’s book Recognizing & Engaging Employees For Dummies, 85% of employees say they are overworked and underappreciated. In a recent survey of American workers, ~2/3 agreed that most people would like more recognition for their work, and the same proportion considered ‘a pat on the back’ as a meaningful incentive. Increased recognition leads to improved performance, as demonstrated by the percentage of managers agreeing to the following statement:

  • Recognizing employees helps me better motivate them (91%)
  • Providing non-monetary recognition to my employees when they do good work helps to increase their performance (84%).

NelsonHall is currently conducting its 7th global Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) market analysis and associated client interviews, to be published at the end of Q1 2016. And the early signs are that we will continue to see an increased focus on candidate and employee engagement. 

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