Career Development, WorkLife Balance Found to be Drivers of Employee Engagement

With employee satisfaction at historically low levels – a Conference Board survey of 5,000 households found that fewer than half of U.S.  workers (45%) are satisfied with their jobs, the lowest level since record-keeping began 22 years ago – employers need to take a good hard look at what they are doing to re-engage their employees and stop them from walking out the door. That’s right, 60% of employees intend to leave their firms as the economy improves this year, and an additional 27% are networking or have updated their résumés, according to a late 2009 survey of 904 workers in North America by advisory firm Right Management.

So, as the economy rebounds, what factor is the most important driver of employee engagement? We recently posed that question to our members and found that “career development opportunities” ranked first (27%),  followed by work-life balance (23%), compensation (17%), seeing direct link between one’s job and the bottom line (13%) and trust in management (13%).

Our findings are in line with on-going research by MasteryWorks,  Inc., leader in Career Development, which demonstrates that showing the employees what’s in it for them – specifically by showing them their career options within the organization – engages employees.  “Conversations between managers and employees need to recognize and appreciate what employees have contributed to the organization but, just as importantly, they need to discuss the contributions needed in the future,” says Adam Alexander, Vice President of MasteryWorks. “Employees want to keep learning and get better in their fields, they want to see the options they have in the future. Managers don’t need to make promises – simply show possibilities. This will help employees craft their own career development plan for future opportunities at the organization.”

Given the challenges of the 24/7, technology-driven global workplace coupled with the demands of today’s fragile economy, it’s not surprising that our members believe that being able to balance work and personal life is an important driver of employee engagement and, in turn,  productivity. Peer into the workplace and you’re apt to see a growing number of employees who feel stressed and overworked.  Families and Work Institute, for example, found that one in three U.S. workers reports feeling overwhelmed by their workload. Of those reporting they are overworked, 36% experience high stress levels as compared to those reported low overwork.

Yet, when employees are better able to manage the demands of their work and home responsibilities, stress levels ease and productivity increases. In fact, the Corporate Executive Board’s recent poll of more than 50,000 global workers found that employees who feel they have a better work-life balance tend to work 21% harder than those that don’t.

Is compensation still important? Of course. We all need to pay our bills, etc. But, cash is not king when it comes to engaging employees.  Career development, work-life balance – these types of motivators will pay rewards far greater than cash. 

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