The Importance of Driving Employee Engagement

Oct. 27, 2008

Dear Readers:

As if you need to be told how finding and keeping good workers is important. For as long as I've been the editor of this magazine, year after year, it's always way up there as one of security dealer integrators' top business concerns. For security alarm business owners it is a constant battle having to pick from a limited skilled labor pool.

You are right in thinking you want to keep your workforce in tact and now a new study reinforces your reasoning. Job satisfaction increases with tenure, according to research conducted by the Kenexa Research Institute (KRI), a division of Kenexa, an employee development and recruiting company. Headquartered in Wayne , PA , the Institute's research also uncovers an unsettling “Two-Year Itch” in employee retention that can really be disruptive to your workforce.

The survey of more than 840,000 responses collected from U.S. and U.K. multi-national companies show that new hires are most excited and engaged during their first few months on the job (72%), but that during the sixth through 18th month their satisfaction levels decline. By the end of year two, instead of focusing on their jobs, odds are that they're focusing on finding a new one, according to the survey.

Jeffrey Saltzman, Kenexa's New York practice leader comments, “A workforce that continually churns creates enormous expense and substantial employee morale issues, and significantly reduces a company's competitive advantage.”

Despite the dismal statistics (a full 57% of new hires are disengaging at the two-year mark), KRI's research shows that the longer an employee stays with an employer, the higher the levels of satisfaction and engagement (76% at year 16 and 72% for those on the job 20 years or more.)

Realistically, all you have to do is get your employees past the two-year mark and you'll have them back performing again. Saltzman agrees, “The longer term employees, who are of course the survivors of the ‘two-year itch,' once again become more engaged and committed. By taking the appropriate measures to get employees past the ‘two-year itch,' employers can reap the benefits of their investments in recruiting, training and development and build a higher-performing workforce.”

How many of your employees are reaching this length of employ? You need to take note: Keep them challenged. Keep adding to their skill set. Keep expecting and giving more. In the long run if you invest your time and energy focusing on their performance needs at this critical point in time, your efforts will pay off down the road when they are still your valued employees.