HR professionals should heed a study about employee engagement to prevent problems in their organization’s culture.

A big gap exists between what human resources professionals think they know about their workforce and what employees actually believe, according to a study.

Entitled, “Employee Attitudes and Engagement.The 2012 study was conducted by the HR firm, Kenexa. (Kenexa was later acquired by IBM.)

Of course, these are startling results — how HR perceptions are off-target on a myriad of issues such as engagement, loyalty and retention. But I believe it’s not entirely the fault of HR professionals.

Senior management, middle management and employees have some work to do because it means such companies aren’t performing at their maximum potential.

The study’s results have at least four implications:

— Negative effects on a company’s culture

— Poor quality of relationships between HR professionals and senior management (HR pros aren’t viewed as strategic business partners)

— Ineffectiveness of HR in understanding company employees

— Company managers aren’t skilled in employee empowerment

Key findings:

Benefits – 71 percent of HR representatives believe the company provides satisfactory benefits. Just 48 percent of workers agree. This indicates many employees don’t fully understand their benefit packages, especially health insurance.

Compensation – 53 percent of HR professionals believe the company gives a fair compensation, but only 30 percent of the workforce has the same opinion.

Employee engagement – 69 percent of companies think employees are engaged but only 34 percent of employees agree. Businesses typically measure employee attendance, development and productivity. Employees measure their engagement on their feelings as opposed to such employer data.

Employee recommendations81 percent of HR professions believe employees would recommend the company to others. But actually, only 38 percent employees would recruit their friends.

Retention – 83 percent of HR respondents think the employees will stay for another 12 months. However, only 41 percent of workers plan to stay. No wonder. If workers feel their benefits and compensation aren’t competitive, they won’t remain with the company if they can get another job.

… it’s not entirely the fault of HR professionals.

To improve such situations, there are five solutions:

1. Improved organization communication –without good communication within the company, even the best-designed HR initiatives won’t work, and employee retention will worsen.

2. Management training – managers need professional training – how to understand employees, they need to know which employees are most-likely to quit, how to deliver the messages of senior management, and how to communicate employee concerns. 

3. Assertiveness, soft-skill training for employees – Employees need training in assertive teamwork and communication skills. A good employee knows how to communicate with bosses and peers. 

4. Marketing-skill training for HR professionals – HR pros would benefit in learning how to communicate their ideas and to market themselves to senior management (there are four keys to marketing ideas to CEOs). 

5. Senior management training – because such problems exist, to paraphrase President Harry S. Truman, the buck stops at the CEO’s desk. Senior managers need to know the differences between leaders and managers, need to implement a cultural change for profits, and to communicate better with HR and employees.

If such measures are taken, the company’s culture will improve, relationships between HR and senior management will get better, and intra-company communication between HR and employees will progress to an acceptable level.

This culminates in higher company performance and profits. Otherwise, the chaos will continue.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related resources:

For Best Performance, Inspire Employees with Non-Financial Rewards — Money talks, of course, and is a way to motivate employees. But money is not always the chief motivator. Here’s why with some ideas.

18 Leadership Strategies to Profit from Employee Respect — Even though Wall Street gets ecstatic over productivity growth, merely slashing costs and jobs to create profit is not sustainable for profits. Investors mistakenly believe the earnings for such publicly held companies are good, but it will not last. Workers are realizing they’re not sharing in the wealth. Poor morale will cause profits to plummet, and consumer demand will continue to plunge.

How Not to Worry about Keeping Your Top Employees — Increasingly, employers are worried about filling open slots and retaining their best workers, according to a 2012 survey of 526 human resources professionals. Sixty-one percent indicate they’re concerned about retention. That’s the conclusion from the study, “Retention of Key Talent and the Role of Rewards.”

How to Get Results from Your HR Training Investment — Profits suffer because human-resources training is perennially a victim in economic downturns. Along with marketing and layoffs, training is one important area where a lot of companies mistakenly cut back. Employees should be treated as assets.

Chaos, panic, and disorder – my job is done here.


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.