One of the biggest fallouts of the 2008 economic recession is the excessive focus on employee productivity, “right sizing” and automation, job security and aspects of “soft” employee engagement took a serious back seat.

When the firm’s profitability and growth imperatives were under threat, it was understandable that employee concerns was not top of mind for CXOs and Boards. Now with the economy making a recovery, CXOs and HR Head Honchos are faced with a happy problem of increasing order books and an unhappy problem of employee attrition who in years are seeing improving job markets.

Although few CXOs like Vineet Nayar from HCL speak of a different paradigm of “Employees First, Customers Second”, it is evident in many firms, the CXOs are guided by the imperatives of external stakeholders, boards, customers and employees as an afterthought.

It is in this context, an annual employee engagement survey is an important tool to understand and arrest employee concerns proactively.

A good employee engagement study should help HR and leadership ascertain the following

  • Key expectations of employees from the firm and their assessment of willingness and readiness to act
  • Candid opinions on why individuals join a firm, would like to continue and reasons to quit
  • Satisfaction ratings on Compensation, work environment, Growth Opportunities and role of immediate manager and overall company brand
  • Specific hypothesis or feedback on key employee indicators which has a wide ranging impact

Some Caveats to look out for

Conducting surveys and town-halls is just the first step, however employee engagement and faith in the process can be addressed by acknowledgement of the data, swift actions which have an impact on the ground. This is a function of both managing perceptions and reality.

One more trap, most employee engagement surveys fall into is looking at a post mortem view of things which went by and not what ideas and inputs for productivity can be sourced from employees and where the employees see the firm in the future.

With the change in “Job for Life” paradigm, Employee loyalty has to go hand in hand with Employer loyalty. Your employees should know that if they do the job they were hired to do with a reasonable amount of competence and efficiency, you will support them and more importantly listen to them in both formal and informal forums.

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