The top priority for a huge two thirds of HR directors over the year ahead will be boosting employee engagement in order to improve retention rates as businesses start moving out of recession.
Second on the list is being able to demonstrate a return on investment on proposed HR projects, which are under more scrutiny than ever, while a third focus is improving business intelligence. The aim here is to mine and analyse data more effectively in a bid to identify staff trends and enhance business practices.
These are the findings of a survey undertaken among 450 UK HR directors by HR software provider, NorthgateArinso.
According to a new report by Kingston University on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, however, HR professionals are right to focus on employee engagement as a key issue.
Its study, entitled ‘Creating an Engaged Workforce’, indicated that such personnel perform better, are more innovative and are more likely to want to stay with their employer. They also enjoy higher levels of personal well-being and perceive their workload to be more sustainable than staff who are not motivated.
The single factor most likely to encourage such engagement, meanwhile, is providing workers with the opportunity to get involved in work-related matters and allowing them to freely express opinions about different aspects of their job. It is crucial that such involvement is meaningful, however.
Kerstin Alfes, the project’s lead researcher at Kingston University Business School, said that employee engagement was particularly important during a recession. “Engagement means that staff are willing to go the extra mile to get things done and, if an organisation is struggling, that could make the difference between whether or not they survive”, she added.
The report also found that the vision of senior managers and their ability to communicate were other key drivers of engagement, while a positive perception by individuals of their line manager also helped.
HR practices per se had no impact, however, although ensuring that staff were well-matched to their job and the style of line management they were subjected to was important.