Employers Face Heightened Performance Risk from a Disengaged Workforce -
from Lower Productivity to Higher Inefficiency
TORONTO, July 11, 2012 /CNW/ - As doubts re-emerge about the strength of the global economic recovery, and
questions persist about Canada's productivity gap, a new Global Workforce Study by global professional services company Towers Watson shows that the
majority (67%) of Canadian workers are not fully engaged in their work
and are frustrated by insufficient support from their organizations.
After almost a decade of pressure to do more with less, the study
suggests that Canadian workers are finding themselves unable to sustain
the kinds of positive associations with their employers that lead to
"The survey results are an important wake-up call," said Ofelia Isabel,
Towers Watson's Canadian Leader for Talent and Rewards. "The business
case is compelling. When we compare engagement scores of global
organizations with their operating margins, companies with high
sustainable engagement have margins almost three times larger than that
of organizations with disengaged workers." Among Canadian Global Workforce Study participants, those who believe that their companies are high-performers
deliver sustainable engagement scores 16 percentage points higher than
the overall country norm.
"When workers are not fully engaged, it leads to increased risk for
employers. It makes companies more vulnerable to lower productivity and
higher inefficiency, greater rates of absenteeism and turnover and
increased costs for chronic illnesses," said France Dufresne, leader of
Towers Watson's Talent and Rewards practice in Montreal. "Without more
attention to the fundamentals of sustainable engagement — including
improving on-the-job support for employees and increasing efforts to
deepen employees' sense of attachment to the organization — employers
will have a harder time generating growth and returns."
A Better Measure of Engagement
The Global Workforce Study breaks new ground in understanding and measuring what contributes to
sustained employee engagement. The equation for sustainable engagement
is the sum of three distinct elements. The first is traditional engagement, or employees' willingness to give effort to their employer. The
second is enablement, which means having the tools, resources, and support to get work done
efficiently. The third is energy, defined as a work environment that actively supports physical, emotional
and interpersonal well-being. "Enablement and energy are the really
critical factors in this equation," Isabel pointed out. "It's only in
the last few years, when we've seen more pressure in the system, that
the importance of enablement and energy has risen to the forefront."
"Companies have known for years that engagement is important to
performance," said Julie Naismith, a senior Talent and Rewards
consultant at Towers Watson. "What's now clear is the significance of
effective workplace resources and interpersonal well-being, along with
an understanding of the role that senior leadership plays in sustaining
that well-being." According to the study, virtually all (95%) of highly
engaged Canadian employees believe that that they have the work tools
and resources they need to achieve exceptional performance — compared
to only 20% of disengaged employees. Similar disparities appear with
regard to the ability to sustain energy throughout the work day (97%
vs. 32%), and sense of personal accomplishment at work (99% vs. 33%).
However, amongst all Canadian survey participants, only a third (38%)
believe that their organization and senior leaders encourage and
support a healthy workforce and just 39% think that senior leaders have
a sincere interest in their well-being.
Restoring Value to the Employee Value Proposition
An organization's Employee Value Proposition (EVP) encompasses career
development, culture, values and rewards and is a key component of
sustainable engagement. While most organizations make an effort to
communicate and support rewards programs, the survey findings reveal
that there is still work to be done when it comes to the other
elements. Only 34% of employees said their organization had a formal
EVP and, where an EVP is in place, only one-third (34%) think their
employer is doing a good job of living up to it.
As Yves Blain, a senior Towers Watson Communication and Change
Management consultant said, "An employee value proposition is what is
offered by an employer in exchange for the productivity and performance
of an employee — it includes the entire employee 'experience' from
their rewards and benefits, to the opportunity for career development
and also the more intrinsic elements of management style, work
environment and culture. When there is no formal EVP or the EVP does
not align organizational strategy with employee aspirations,
sustainable engagement is difficult to achieve."
Closing the Gaps
Although the survey findings point out some risks for employers, they
also suggest opportunities to address the full spectrum of engagement.
The study identifies specific attributes of the work environment that
are critical to traditional engagement, enablement and energy,
highlighting actions employers can take to improve engagement and
increase productivity, putting solutions directly within companies'
control. "There is a real imperative for change right now," said
Isabel. "The world has changed, but have our programs and practices
changed with it? The risks of continuing to manage the traditional way
are just too great from a performance perspective. And everyone in an
organization has a role to play in helping to facilitate sustainable
engagement — from leadership, to first-line supervisors, to Human
Resources to employees themselves."
About the Study
The Towers Watson Global Workforce Study covers more than 32,000
employees selected at random from research panels and employed
full-time by large and midsize organizations across a range of
industries in 29 markets around the world. It was fielded via an
online-questionnaire between February and March 2012. The Canadian
sample includes 1,000 employees and has a margin of error of ±3%. The
study is designed to help companies better understand their employees
and the factors that influence employee performance on the job by
gauging changing attitudes that affect attraction, retention,
engagement and productivity.
About Towers Watson
Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional
services company that helps organizations improve performance through
effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers
solutions in the areas of employee benefits, talent management,
rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000
associates around the world and is located on the web at towerswatson.com.
SOURCE Towers Watson
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