Many Employers not Focused on Employee Engagement Improvement

July 13, 2010 ( – The effects on employee attitudes of recent layoffs, wage freezes, lost bonuses, and increased work demands have left many employers increasingly worried about a potential exodus of top talent, a new study has found.

A news release from WorldatWork about the study it conducted with Loyola University Chicago and Hay Group found, however, that many employers aren’t taking concrete steps to deal with the issue, including not consideirng how reward programs affect employee engagement. Some 44% of the organizations indicated that they explicitly included employee engagement in their organization strategy, while 31% said they did not. Seventeen percent were equivocal saying they neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement.

The study found that base pay and benefits had a weaker relationship with the organization’s ability to foster high levels of employee engagement and motivation compared to incentives, intangible rewards, and quality of leadership

The poll also found employees have limited involvement in compensation program design, although encouraging employee input and involvement in programs that affect them is a method organizational development specialists suggest to enhance employee engagement and commitment, WorldatWork said. Only 11% of respondents indicated that their organization frequently involved employees in the design of reward programs.

“Through our research we have learned that organizations that involve employees in the design, implementation and assessment of reward programs are associated with reward strategies that effectively foster high levels of employee engagement,” said Dow Scott, Professor of Human Resources and Industrial Relations, School of Business Administration, Loyola University Chicago. “Involving employees in programs that affect them offers a direct way for reward professionals to enhance employee engagement.” 

Overall, the study noted, “it is surprising how few organizations have taken even basic steps to encourage employee engagement.”

 According to the poll results, respondents “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that:

  • “Engagement levels fostered by line managers are an important factor in evaluating their performance,” (37%)
  • “Employee engagement performance metrics are incorporated into variable pay programs in our organization,” (60%)
  • “Our organization has a specific definition of ‘employee engagement’,” (53%)
  • “Employee engagement is explicitly included in our organization strategy,” (44%).

The survey was open from December 15, 2009 through January 12, 2010, and included 736 respondents.

The survey report is at