Employee engagement vital in downturn

by 12 Mar 2009

In an economic downturn, improving employee engagement can add real value to an organisation’s bottom line, according to a US expert.

“Organisations looking to cut costs and increase efficiency also need engaged employees who work harder,” said Rory MacNeill, global managing director of employee research for NWC Opinion Research.

Many people may think employees should be satisfied just to have a job, he said, but organisations are saying the economic downturn means engagement is more important than ever.

MacNeill said employee engagement is made of up three main drivers: say (whether employees are advocates for your company, and speak highly of your organisation); stay (whether they are committed to the long-term future of the company); and strive (do they go the extra mile and put in discretionary effort?).

“What employees say about a company is more important than ever, as bad news about the company is released, such as financial results, redundancies or closure announcements,” he said.

“Internally, advocates can maintain morale, and externally they will communicate the message that you still have a strong brand, product or service.”

Staying is also essential, he said. As organisations are cutting their staff and not growing, they still want to keep their good people and keep them engaged, so that when the economy gets better they stay and remain committed long-term.

“So, short-term it’s important to maintain engagement to improve relationships with customers and retention, but long-term, investing in employee engagement is laying a good foundation for when the economy recovers,” MacNeill said.


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