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Employee Engagement Ideas: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
By: Julie Davis, Workforce SolutionsDirector, AEM

Employee engagementincreases productivity, increases profit, increases quality, and is one of thetop ways to improve employee retainment.
An engaged employee is “one who is fully absorbed by andenthusiastic about their work, and so takes positive action to further theorganization’s reputation and interests. An engaged employee has a positiveattitude towards the organization and its values. In contrast, adisengaged employee may range from someone doing the bare minimum at work (aka‘coasting’), up to an employee who is actively damaging the company’s workoutput and reputation.”
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
According to a 2016 Gallup Employee Engagement Survey, 87%of employees are disengaged, costing companies up to $550 billion in annualproductivity losses. Organizations in top 25% of employee engagement scoresachieved dramatically better operational performance than organizations in thebottom 25%.
Companies with the top 25% employee engagement experience rewardslike:
· 10% higher customer loyalty/engagement
· 21% higher profitability
· 20% higher sales productivity
· 70% higher in fewer safety incidents
· 28% higher in reduced shrinkage (shop stealingand similar)
· 41% higher in less absenteeism
· 40% higher in quality (fewer defects)
If Gallup Survey results weren’t enough to have you seriouslyrethinking employee engagement, according to the Workplace Research Foundationcited on the Talent Culture website, increasing employee engagementinvestments by 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee per year.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Multiple research reportsand surveys have shown that the three most important factors directly impactingemployee engagement are communication, connection, and development. Quantum Workplaceadministered a survey tonearly 5,000 organizations and found 31 items that were drivers of engagement.Of the 31 items, you may be surprised to learn the three itemsof lowest importance were:
  1. I have a close and trusting relationship with one or more coworkers.
  2. My benefits meet my (and my family’s) needs well.
  3. We have benefits typically not available at other organizations.
While benefits andcompensation are often the first items cited when thinking about employeeturnover and retention, there are multiple factors, such as feeling connected,valued, and a sense of contributing to a bigger picture, that are shown to bemore influential.
BUILD YOUR STRATEGY
Employees account for a largeorganizational investment, so why not make sure employees feel like a valuedresource? Companies regularly invest in systems and equipment updates. Makingan investment in “human capital” can give you amazing returns. Here are someideas on how to start.
1. Assess and prioritize.
We measure what matters, soget started with employee engagement by understanding what is currently takingplace. There are many available survey examples. Make sure that the questionsyou ask get at the heart of communication dynamics, employee perception ofleadership, and employee development. Understanding the various ways to analyzeresults and prioritize findings can be essential in choosing what type ofassessment you use.
2. Build effective organizationalcommunication.
Is the information youcommunicate relevant, accurate, engaging, informative, and instructive? Does itlead to a greater sense of organizational transparency and build trust? Do youhave clear lines of internal communication? Daily communication is one of thefastest ways to increase employee engagement.
3. Foster connection and trust withleadership.
According to QuantumWorkplace research, the three themes for creating the largest impact onemployee development are the leadership’s attention to the workplaceexperience, the visibility of leadership, and employees seeing their personalfuture within the organization. This means leaders need to be attuned to andinvested in shaping the culture and that they take time to connect with alllevels of the organization. This connection can support an employee’s sensethat the organization’s future is secure. Further, employees need to be able tosee a path for personal and professional growth as they look ahead.
4. Create development opportunities.
It has been said that whenemployees stop learning, they start leaving. When it comes to employeeretention, development is a strategic part of ensuring that your employees feelvalued and engaged. There are many activities that encompass employeedevelopment, including continuing education, employee participation inprofessional organizations, activities like mentorship, that lead to increasedjob performance, increased duties or responsibilities. There is alsoskill-based training, specialized projects or teams, and coaching. While notevery employee may want development opportunities, the employees that do aregenerally the ones you want to grow and retain.
5. Measure impact.
Employee engagement shouldbe measured annually. General surveys can be created to reflect theorganization's key performance measures, such as profitability, productivity,quality, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. However, specific surveyscan also be generated to better reflect departments, teams, specific areas offocus (such as communication), or other outcomes. Your best results will beachieved when you build a plan from your survey results that focuses on one ortwo achievable outcomes.
NO MORE ARGUMENTS
The biggest argument againstestablishing an employee development program is the cost and time that it takesto manage. But what if there was a virtually zero cost method to offer your employeesdevelopment opportunities? Chris Czarnik, founder of Career Research Group,presented at AEM’s Workforce Solutions Summit last August. He described indetail a virtually zero-cost method that any company could use to create anemployee development plan that would benefit both the employees and theemployer. It can be done so where there is willingness and creativity, there isa way.
LEARN MORE
If you need more support,ideas, or information, get started by visiting the Workforce Solutions Toolkit or contact AEM's Julie Davis at jdavis@aem.org.

About AEM
AEM is theNorth America-based international trade group representing off-road equipmentmanufacturers and suppliers with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectorsworldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry in the United States supports 2.8million jobs and contributes roughly $288 billion to the economy every year.


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