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Four reasons employee engagement matters more than ever

We have been writing about employee engagement for some time, and for good cause as it is a crucial element in properly aligning your workforce to achieve the strategic goals of the organization.

As the topic gains more attention and the economic uncertainty lingers on, it's important to understand the factors that necessitate solid employee engagement practices. Failure to understand these factors could lead to ill-timed, poorly targeted, incorrectly implemented, or even wrong employee engagement investments altogether.

Here are the four crucial factors that are demanding more attention be paid to the proper execution of employee engagement practices for the entire workforce:

  1. Talent deficit. Our recent series on the talent deficit explores the situation in which holes in the workforce grow steadily larger until they risk the organization's ability to operate on a day-to-day basis. This talent deficit is exacerbated by the flow of multiple generations of workers into and out of the workforce. New talent, with underdeveloped skills, is entering the workforce to replace the older, more experienced generations that are leaving it. The result is a hole that needs to be filled by more than one person. Add to this the thin recruiting infrastructure that is common across most organizations. Even with a successful fill rate of 75 percent of new positions filled within a month, the talent deficit continues to grow. Engagement can help alleviate some of the pain that results from an expanding or even just anticipated talent deficit.

  2. Dramatic shift in workforce composition. As we reported late last year, the composition of the American workforce has been forever changed. The use of contracted labor has increased, and 80 percent of the firms we surveyed anticipated these levels would either remain the same or increase when recovery finally takes root. Thought is required to determine how this segment of the workforce is engaged.

  3. Looming talent migration. Even with economic uncertainty, we have seen some candidates who are willing to test the employment waters. In some cases, they are even choosing temporary positions over permanent jobs for the opportunity to learn something new, or associate with a better employment brand. Decreasing fear related to job security points to a pending talent migration that, unless prepared for, will create an even greater and potentially unmanageable talent deficit. To minimize the impact of a potential talent migration, it is crucial to invest in employee engagement practices that increase employees' sense of value, and give them cause to have greater employer loyalty.

  4. Taxed recruiting infrastructure. Organizations' recruiting infrastructure is exhausted and ill-prepared to handle any increase in demand, even a modest one. Worse still, rebuilding recruiting staff is a cost that many firms are still hesitant to incur. Add to this questionable services that a company might be receiving from professional staffing providers, and the increased autonomy that hiring managers have over bringing in non-employees, and the result is a poorly connected and engaged workforce.

Because each of these factors impacts employee engagement in a different way, the need to engage the workforce becomes significantly more complex. And this growing complexity can exponentially increase the negative results of poor employee engagement. It is time to evaluate the organization, not just for how well it is engaging the workforce, but for which of these four elements is having the most dramatic effect.

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