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

Ann Parker is Associate Director, Talent Leader Consortiums at ATD. In this role she drives strategy, product development, and content acquisition for ATD’s senior leader and executive audience. She also oversees business development and program management for ATD's senior leader consortiums, CTDO Next and ATD Forum.

Ann began her tenure at ATD in an editorial capacity, primarily writing for TD magazine as Senior Writer/Editor. In this role she 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. She then became a Senior Content Manager for Senior Leaders & Executives, focusing on content and product development for the talent executive audience, before moving into her current role.

Ann is a native Pennsylvanian where she currently resides, marathoner, avid writer, baker and eater of sweets, wife to an Ironman, and mother of two.

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