In our 2017 State of Employee Engagement survey, we collected feedback from over 150 organizations to create a comprehensive look at employee engagement best practices. One section of the survey included a set of questions about programs being used to increase employee engagement and the success of these programs. Here are five key findings from the research:
1. Only 52% of Companies Have an Employee Engagement Program
We asked HR leaders if their organization has a formal program currently in place specifically aimed at enhancing employee engagement. One surprising finding is that only 52% of respondents indicated they did, while 41% reported they did not (7% did not know). We suspect that more than 52% of organizations are using programs to improve engagement such as employee feedback systems, training courses, or employee events but they have not created an umbrella program to address employee engagement at an organizational level. Our research also found that those organizations that did have a program in place were more likely to see engagement levels increase over the past three years.
2. Lack of Knowledge Cited as #1 Reason for Not Having an Employee Engagement Program
We then specifically asked those who do not have any engagement programs: “Why does your organization not have any programs in place to enhance employee engagement?” “Lack of knowledge about the benefits of employee engagement” was the most-cited response at 65%, followed by “other competing priorities” at 26%. Surprisingly, “lack of executive team support” was only mentioned in 12% of the responses.
3. Employee Feedback Systems are the #1 Engagement Initiative
The study drilled down to the specific programs and initiatives being used to improve employee engagement. We asked: “What types of employee engagement-specific initiatives has your organization implemented in the past three years?” Employee feedback systems such as employee surveys, focus groups, and interviews consisted of 84% of the responses, followed by recognition programs (33%), company events (32%), and wellness programs (31%).
4. Most Employee Engagement Programs are Somewhat Successful
HR leaders had mixed feelings when asked: “Overall, how successful do you feel these programs have been over the past three years in increasing employee engagement?” 48%, responded with, “somewhat successful,” possibly indicating that it is difficult to calculate the impact of “soft” people programs. 38% responded that their programs have been successful or very successful, while 11% reported their programs were not successful.
5. Future Engagement Plans Dominated by Employee Feedback Systems
What type of employee engagement initiatives will organizations implement in the future? Most organizations reported they will utilize employee feedback systems (employee surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc.) with that initiative collecting 70% of the responses. Other mentions were wellness programs (18%), recognition programs (18%), and company events/parties (18%).
Two Best Practice Takeaways from this Research
Later in our survey, we asked HR leaders if the level of employee engagement in their organization had increased, stayed the same, or decreased over the past three years. For those where engagement increased, we found two significant differences. Companies with increasing levels of employee engagement have a formal employee engagement program in place and have consistently measured employee engagement each year for multiple years. These findings seem somewhat obvious, but it confirms that if your organization is only somewhat committed to engagement, your results will reflect your halfhearted efforts.