It is the dream of every company or organisation to acquire and retain highly qualified and dedicated personnel to ensure that optimal performance is attained all the time. When a reported 74% of employees want to walk away from their jobs, it is no wonder that employers value such optimal performance from staff, otherwise known as engaged employees. ¹ But what are these engaged employees? Why are they so important to a company? This first blog for GCC Search hopes to delve a little deeper into the importance of good employee engagement.
What is Employee Engagement?
Put simply, employee engagement is the employee’s emotional commitment to the company and its activities. The employees are ever devoted to doing their duties on time, which translates to assignment delivered on time and done to the highest quality possible. Engaged employees are always happy and this correlates to high productivity.
Sustainable engagement versus traditional engagement
In a presentation given last year at Global Career Company’s Talent Agenda Series 2016 Southern African Conference in partnership with Willis Towers Watson, GCC Search brought together the results of a year-long pan-African survey, to give an understanding as to the changes in Employee Engagement across the continent. With over 20,000 respondents to our 2017 survey, the EoC Awards offered the opportunity to professionals across the continent and beyond to have their opinions heard.
The results of our 2016 survey indicate a disparity between emerging and mature markets. Values once synonymous with mature markets can no longer be attached to economies as young as Africa. One of the biggest finds of the survey was the difference in hiring rates between mature and emerging markets, the latter reporting a hiring activity increase of nearly half (48); yet close to three quarters of employers had difficult retaining high potentials. Taking these two figures together, a pattern soon emerges. It would seem that the 47% retention rate remains a challenge for high potential employees in emerging markets compared to a huge 70% in mature markets. These figures highlight the importance of employee engagement in such young markets, where employees are more likely to change profession. In this study, 32% of people said that they were likely to leave within in the next two years, higher than the Global Average of 26%.
The Three E s: Discover the three critical elements of employment engagement
How then should companies go about creating effective employee engagement for the African professional community?
Splitting the topic into three equal segments is the most appropriate way of analysing the current engagement trends in Africa and providing solutions to the problems of talent attraction and retention.
Engage: Rational, emotional, and behavioural attachment to the company
Companies that had a good retention rate were those which had implemented an effective human capital strategy and an efficient Employee Value Proposition (EVP): 93% of these companies were more likely to report to be significantly outperforming their industry peers financially and they were more than 10% less likely to report difficulty attracting and retaining key employee segments.
Engaging employees through a well-structured EVP thus appears to be the best solution for maintaining an involved workforce. By identifying existing perceptions about the company brand and culture through activities like employee surveys and focus groups, employers can gather information about themselves and change accordingly. Determining key selling points is another method of ensuring a good EVP. By establishing which areas of the business are most valued, employers can provide information as to why an individual would want to work for the company.
Enable: A local work environment that supports productivity and performance
One of the most shocking figures discovered by our survey was that only 47% of respondents agreed that they were fairly paid for the work they do. Productivity through successful enabling appears as a low-priority for employers. Employers across the continent must therefore aim at improving a work environment which targets effective performance rates.
One simple way of creating this environment is to find employees with regional, and more importantly, local market knowledge. By ensuring the workforce is focused locally, employers can align the workforce and the work environment. Results from the EoC Awards demonstrate that companies recruiting from the continent and the African diaspora had a 53% increase in productivity across the board.
Energise: Individual physical, interpersonal and emotional well-being at work
This is another area where African employers are failing to actively engage their employees. Although the majority of respondents agreed that their immediate manager treated them with respect (73%), only 48% said yes when asked whether their immediate manager did a good job of coaching them to improve their performance. The lack of importance given to personal development reflects in the low retention percentage reported across the board and is an area of improvement for African businesses.
How then can companies improve their focus on employee personal development? One-on-one meetings with employees and implementing managerial courses help identify and solve interpersonal and personal staff problems and are the most effective ways of improving emotional well-being at work. Setting personal challenges is another method employees can be energised. Companies which received the best results had implemented such challenges to ensure employees did not become despondent when at work.