June 2013
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TD Magazine

Emerging Challenges in Employee Engagement

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A lack of formal engagement programs and generational differences are the main barriers to employee engagement.

In a recent online survey by cloud-based social talent management solutions provider SilkRoad, 781 HR professionals revealed their companies' employee engagement practices. The survey tested for:
• the number of companies with explicit employee engagement programs
• the organizational impact of low engagement
• the ways professionals involve the C-suite in engagement
• HR professionals’ employee engagement “pain points” and concerns
• which generations in the workplace are perceived as being more engaged
• the methods companies use to measure employee engagement.

"One of the most significant findings we uncovered is that a majority (54 percent) of employers still don't offer formal engagement programs," says Chris Lennon, director of product management at SilkRoad. "While 73 percent report participating in engagement programs on some level, only 38 percent are offering formal programs. This is problematic for a number of reasons, but top among them is the fact that informal programs lack clear goals and accountability."

Despite a lack of formal programs, 70 percent of respondents say their C-suite is committed to engagement, which reveals a glaring disconnect. Additionally, employers view the increasingly diverse and remote workforce as a barrier to employee engagement, with generational differences reported as a top challenge.


Respondents rated the engagement of each generation on a five-point scale, with Millennials being least engaged at 3.23, followed by Baby Boomers (3.62) and Generation X (3.72).

The call to action for training and development professionals is to correlate training programs with company goals because when employees see this connection, they are more inclined to be engaged, Lennon explains.

"Training and development practitioners need to become brokers of knowledge by providing tools and resources that give employees an opportunity to engage," Lennon adds. "This hits on a couple of key points in the survey for engaging Millennials and remote workers—two high-risk audiences for disengagement."

About the Author

Community of Practice Manager, ATD  Ann Parker is senior manager of the Human Capital Community of Practice and the Senior Leaders & Executives Community of Practice at ATD. Prior to this position, she worked at ATD for five years in an editorial capacity, primarily for TD magazine, and most recently as a senior writer and editor. In this role, Ann had the privilege to talk to many training and development practitioners, hear from a variety of prominent industry thought leaders, and develop a rich understanding of the profession's content.

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