Companies aware of, but not acting on, need to alter engagement strategies


By Neil Amato

A majority of engagement leaders believe that businesses must engage workers differently if they are to succeed in the future, but just 30% think their companies are doing enough to adapt to the changes that lie ahead.

That’s according to a recent global report by management consulting firm Hay Group, which interviewed 300 heads of employee engagement at companies around the world.

The report mentions six trends that will transform the global business environment and describes how the trends affect workers. Today’s business environment compels companies to adapt, Hay Group said, citing its research that says 23.4% of employees worldwide will change jobs by 2018.

The six trends are:

  • Globalisation 2.0. Economic power is shifting away from established economies, giving rise to a new global middle class.
  • The environmental crisis. The environment is more important to people now, with natural resources more scarce and climate change gathering speed, Hay Group says.
  • Demographic change. The battle for talent has been exacerbated by aging populations, which are reshaping the global workforce.
  • Individualism. Freedom of choice is leading to less loyalty, transforming workplace motivation.
  • Digitisation. As work gets more remote, the line between personal and professional life is becoming blurred.
  • Technological convergence. Fast and powerful shifts in technology are changing lives and creating new markets for products.

Respondents picked digitisation and individualism as the two trends that are the most challenging and will have the greatest impact on their engagement strategies. The survey found that 84% believe their companies will need to alter their engagement strategies in the future, but few (30%) believe their company is adapting appropriately to the expected changes.

Additionally, only 25% of respondents have personally started to drive change in engagement strategies.

“The megatrends are converging to fundamentally change the way people work, what they value in a career, and what they want from their employers,” Mark Royal, senior principal at Hay Group, said in a news release. “Engagement professionals face a critical opportunity to rethink their strategies in response to, and anticipation of, these shifts. The role of the engagement professional has become both increasingly critical and increasingly complex in fighting the global war for talent.”

Hay Group research shows that organisations scoring highest for engagement have 2.5 times the revenue growth of those that score the lowest. The company lists five steps organisations can take to “future-proof” their engagement strategies:

Know what you’re up against. Assess which trends will have the biggest effect on your organisation and on your workers’ engagement.

Audit where you are now. Identify the changes needed, the significance of such changes, and where you need to be in the future.

Build the business case. Use the knowledge gained in the first two steps to make engagement strategies a priority on the corporate agenda.

Find allies. Build networks with the right stakeholders, forming groups of people who can work together to make change happen.

Keep in touch. Engagement needs are not static for each employee. Seek ongoing feedback to understand how engagement strategies and drivers of trends are evolving.

Related CGMA Magazine content:

Keys to Retention: Career Advancement, Strong Leadership”: Limited career advancement opportunities for employees leave many employers in danger of losing top talent as global hiring heats up, two surveys show.

Two Themes for Companies to Keep Millennial Workers Engaged”: Millennials, to some, can seem restless, but they are a major part of current and future workplaces. Companies, especially those run by Baby Boomers, must adapt to keep Millennials engaged and motivated, said Rita McGrath, an author and Columbia University management professor.

Neil Amato (namato@aicpa.org) is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.

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