SI Review: March 2012


Expert’s Corner

Empower Your Staff

How to boost worker engagement and increase retention

By Kevin Sheridan

With the economy slowly improving, more and more organizations are hiring temporary workers and opting to employ staff on a contingent basis. Although temp workers have a different employment status than full-time employees, they both share a need to be engaged and recognized.

Engagement Matters

Actively engaged workers benefit your company. Why? Because they feel a strong emotional bond and intellectual commitment to their employer. They choose to exert discretionary effort to provide better outcomes for customers and the organization, and they also are willing to accept some level of ownership for their level of engagement.

Disengaged workers, meanwhile, can damage organization’s workforce, productivity and bottom line — and the provider’s reputation. With a large pool of job candidates currently seeking employment, staffing firms should use various techniques to properly identify and hire actively engaged workers. You can identify them through situation judgment interview questions, structured behavior interviews and personality tests. In addition, you should be monitoring all three types of employees’ engagement levels regularly.

Measure & Monitor. For many years, companies have tracked employee satisfaction levels. However, satisfaction does not equal engagement. Satisfied employees may still fail to go above and beyond to directly benefit their organization. An employee engagement survey is an effective, valuable tool for measuring employees’ commitment to their organization and their willingness to positively contribute. Measuring and monitoring engagement rather than satisfaction on a regular basis is necessary to engage employees while bringing about positive, lasting organizational change.

Act on Feedback. Companies have long sought feedback from employees, encouraging them to suggest ideas that can improve their work environment. However, according to HR Solutions International’s Research Institute, only 35 percent of employees believe their organization’s employee survey will result in change. Failure to act on staff feedback creates an atmosphere of disengagement, because workers will believe their ideas are neither respected nor valued. So if you seek such feedback, be prepared to act on what you learn.

Recognize Workers. Recognition has long been a key driver of engagement for any employee. Workers thrive on recognition, public or private. To develop an appropriate culture, organizations should establish a formal recognition program, clearly outlining the behaviors and business outcomes worthy of recognition, and seek feedback from clients on your temps’ good work. With such a program in place, temp workers and your internal staff will not only feel appreciated but also engaged.

Encourage Ownership. Think about one of your most prized possessions. Whether it is a classic car, a beloved pet, or a piece of jewelry that has been passed down for generations, you are emotionally committed to taking care of the item and openly exhibit your passion for it. Why shouldn’t the same hold true for how temp workers and employees own their individual projects in the workplace?

Today, many employees still rely on their employer to engage them in their job. The responsibility for improving employee engagement should not fall solely on management. Rather, the driving force of workplace engagement should be shared between managers and employees.

The Long Haul

Clients can reap the rewards of an engaged temporary workforce, and that benefits the provider as well. Implementing these best practices will help managers successfully engage contingents. Employee engagement is not a brief, one-time initiative but long-term, powerful foundation required for driving organizational success.

Kevin Sheridan is senior vice president of HR optimization with HR Solutions International Inc., a Chicago-based human capital management consulting firm. He can be reached at


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Employee Engagement / Internal Communications Consultant

Carla Anne Ernst03/02/2012 11:17 pm

Great article! Particularly good point understanding the need for temporary employees to be engaged and recognized. Carla Anne Ernst

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