Tough economic times lead to decline in employee engagement



    VANCOUVER, Jan. 23 /CNW/ - Strategic Connections Inc., announces its
findings on the impact the economic downturn is having on employee engagement
and the steps companies can take to ensure the integrity of their workforce
now and when the economy recovers.
    "The recent downturn in the economy is having negative effects on
engagement levels and this is something every business should be concerned
with," states Ken Milloy, president and senior strategy consultant for
Strategic Connections Inc. "While engaged employees won't make the recession
disappear, they will certainly help companies get through it with far more
success than would otherwise be possible."
    Employers have come to understand that engaged employees can
significantly outperform those who are not engaged in their work. The positive
results of an engaged workplace are well documented and include increased
service and customer loyalty, improved individual performance and reduced
costs associated with safety and absenteeism.
    "A number of CEO's and senior leaders have recently told me that they
have noticed a visible decline in the levels of enthusiasm and engagement
among their staff," says Milloy. Through more comprehensive conversations with
leaders and a review of the research findings being published, it has become
clear that changes in the economy have lead to downward trends in engagement
rates. Some research suggests that for every one company seeing improvement in
engagement, two are showing declines.
    "Over the past few years, companies have made substantial investments in
developing engaged workplaces," states Milloy. "The idea is quite simple - an
engaged employee will have an increased desire, willingness and ability to go
the extra mile, will speak more positively of the company and will be more
than willing to stay and help out when times get tough."
    Through his research, Milloy has found some disturbing information.
Companies are not only cutting back on investments in engagement, they are
reducing one of its cornerstones - open communication with staff. This is
directly tied to increased rumor, speculation and worry among employees, which
is in turn bolstered by the stories they read in the papers and see and hear
in the news about declining profits, cutbacks and job loss.
    Milloy believes that focusing on a few key areas during this downturn
will improve a company's ability to weather this period of uncertainty and
help position them to lead the pack when things make a turn for the better.

    
    1.  Employers should ensure they have a clear and compelling direction or
        story to share with their staff. This story needs to include a bit on
        what the company has to be proud of, a summary of what is happening,
        a concise picture of where it's headed and how it will get there with
        everyone playing their part. This story must be shared widely,
        repeatedly and consistently.

    2.  Use all lines of communication with openness and honesty at the heart
        of all interactions. While many employers keep the bad news away from
        their staff, the ones that perform well share it, discuss it and seek
        ways to move forward. Keeping the bad news quiet rapidly increases
        the rumor mill, negative attitudes and an overall feeling of
        dispiritedness that hinders all areas of individual and business
        performance.

    3.  Ensure managers and front line leaders actively share and discuss
        news and information with staff and recognize people for their
        efforts. They should focus on behaviours and say thanks to those who
        exhibit the right ones. Of course, managers can only do this if they
        are engaged and able to model the desired behaviours.

    4.  Continue to focus on careers, growth and development. By focusing on
        career development, companies will send a clear message to employees
        that they are moving forward and very much want them as a part of
        that future.
    

    About Strategic Connections Inc.

    Strategic Connections Inc. is a leader in internal communication and
engagement. It understands that while leaders may set direction, it's the
employees who make plans happen. The Strategic Connections Inc. team is
dedicated to helping Canadian businesses improve their performance by engaging
their people in vision, strategy, values and change through communication and
storytelling. Ken Milloy is recognized internationally as a leader in internal
and engagement fostering communications. He is regularly asked to speak at
national and international conferences and has been interviewed by and
published in numerous journals worldwide.
    To find out more about Strategic Connections Inc., visit our website at
www.strategicconnections.com.





For further information:

For further information: Ken Milloy, President & Senior Strategy
Consultant, Strategic Connections Inc., 1410 - 1130 West Pender Street,
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6E 4A4, Phone: (604) 684-2429, e-mail:
kmilloy@strategicconnections.com, web: www.strategicconnections.com

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