Quantum Survey Detects Economic Crisis Impacts Employee Engagement
Results of a national comparative survey of US companies between 2007 and 2008 indicate that 66 percent of the firms in the study saw decreases in their employee engagement, according to Greg Harris, president, Quantum Workplace, a market research company that surveys employee engagement.
Best known as the research firm behind Best Places to Work programs in more than 40 metro areas, Quantum Workplace surveys more than 1.5 million employees among 5,000 companies nationwide. The surveys are conducted at different times of the year, but at the same time of the year in each location.
“In the past, our surveys have shown how employers can significantly influence, if not control, how motivated and satisfied their employees are. But, we couldn’t help but wonder what affect such a significant event beyond employer’s control—an economic crisis—might have on employee feelings and perceptions of their workplaces.
By an almost two-to-one margin (134 to 76), more employers had lower overall employee engagement scores in the fall of 2008 than in the fall of 2007. This result is out of the ordinary from our trends for the last five years, and strongly suggests that external circumstances regarding the economy may well be influencing employees’ attitudes about their jobs and workplaces,” adds Mr. Harris.
“To explore the issue further, we conducted an analysis of the 210 companies; both those that had higher engagement scores and those whose scores had dropped off.
Our analysis uncovered five key differentiators that reveal how some employers are growing and where others may be losing their hold,” notes Mr. Harris.
The following five lessons were responsible for a disproportionate share of the variation among winners and losers:
Setting a clear, compelling direction that empowers each employee. While the future might look grim to some employers, employees at other companies are working hand-in-hand with their supervisors to create a positive future for the company.
Open and honest communication. While some employers are hiding bad news from their employees, other companies are keeping their employees informed and updated, even if the news isn’t always good.
Continued focus on career growth and development. While some employers are cutting jobs or scaling back on promotions, other employers are helping their associates see opportunity in the midst of the crisis for their own growth and development.
Recognizing and rewarding high performance. While some employers may be instituting hiring freezes and cutting back on perks, others will continue to finds ways to reward those who are taking care of customers and keep them coming back.
Employee benefits that demonstrate a strong commitment to employee well-being. While some employers are scaling back employee benefits, others are committed to helping maintain the health and vitality of those who work for them.
According to Leigh Branham, author of The Seven Hidden Reasons that Employees Leave, “It may be difficult to implement the five lessons described, but as Winston Churchill admonished: ‘Kites rise highest against the wind—not with it.’ The additional efforts to engage employees, in spite of the economic currents, can garner significant returns.”
“Having a highly engaged workforce certainly doesn’t completely insulate an organization from economic recession. But a more engaged workforce can act as insulation, a buffer if you will, from the effects of the economic downturn,” according to Mark D. Hirschfeld, principal, Goldenrod Consulting, Inc.
For additional information on this survey and other employee engagement issues, please go to www.quantumworkplace.com .