Canada in Same Boat as U.S. – Problematic Employee Engagement

by: Nichole Gunn May 4, 2011

Engagement and productivity are aspects of business that created strong concerns for the United States during the recession, but these concerns face businesses worldwide. In a new study from Psychometrics Canada it was found that both employee engagement and employee disengagement affect the workplace environment and a company’s bottom line.

The Psychometrics Canada survey consisted of 368 HR professionals in a number of arena, including: business, consulting, government, education, and non-profit organizations; the study focused on employee engagement in the Canadian workplace, and found that a whooping 84 percent of respondents stated that “senior leaders and managers are primarily responsible for employee engagement.”

Along with this, 82 percent of the respondents feel that addressing employee engagement is a necessity, and 69 percent feel that employee engagement is a problem for their companies. “The overwhelming responses of what needs to be improved signified employee desires for non-monetary employee rewards.”

The type of work environment also played a factor in the study’s results. Depending on the industry, respondent concern over engagement varied: 80 percent in government; 74.4 percent in business; 64.2 percent in education, and 54.2 percent in non-profit organizations.

To address these concerns, HR professionals suggest utilizing the three following effective strategies:

  1. Individual control over how an employee does his/her work
  2. Affording opportunities for employees to use their skills
  3. Providing a workplace environment that affords good employee/management-leadership relationships

As business leaders have the greatest influence over the work environment, therefore employee engagement, leaders were asked how else engagement could be enhanced; their responses and the percentages are as follows:

  • 71% - listen to worker input
  • 68% - provide clear-cut goals and objectives
  • 58% - offer public recognition, including praise
  • 57% - offer work related learning tools, programs, and opportunities
  • 39% - help resolve work related problems
  • 15% - “defend direct reports”

President of Psychometrics Canada Mark Fitzsimmons noted in a press release, “A paycheque is not enough. To keep staff engaged, organizations need to give them the opportunity to use their skills, to be creative and, most of all, to be listened to.” He added that the while the study “demonstrates that many organizations understand this already, few are taking the necessary steps to address it."

Psychometrics also discovered that respondents with an effective engagement program in place showed that 39 percent of employees are willing to work harder; 27 percent boosted their productivity; 13 percent demonstrated more secure workplace relationships; and 10 percent saw a boost in satisfied customers.

Reviewing the results of the study, Psychometrics came up with its own list of ‘most effective’ strategies for boosting employee engagement levels, which include: create an uplifting and unified environment; have workers’ skills and personality matched to his/her job; and offer learning tools programs for new work opportunities and advancement.