by Razor Suleman | July 23, 2012
The global talent/skills shortage is top of mind for CEOs and board members around the world, and more and more organizations are exploring ways to raise engagement levels of their current workforce. It just makes sense: investing in keeping the talent you have is far more cost effective than having to tap into shrinking, expensive talent pools. 

Gallup’s research reveals that 71 percent of American workers are not engaged in their current positions. The research also states that within the US workforce, disengaged employees cost $300 billion in lost productivity alone. There is a clear need to repair the employer employee relationship.

Achievers embarked on the first study of its kind, "Achievers Intelligence: Insight into Today’s Workforce," with the purpose of discovering whether organizations have an accurate depiction of how employees evaluate their employment experiences with respect to feedback, managerial communication, and recognition for contributions – all part of overall engagement. 

Through the study, Achievers identifies opportunities for employers to increase the engagement of their employees:
-Recruiting employees in a very competitive job market
-Retaining employees so they don’t leave for perceived greener pastures
-Inspiring employees to do their best work

Employers are spending critical resources – time, money and mind share – on establishing and cultivating strong employee value propositions (EVP) in order to attract the right talent to their organization. Applying directly to the organization is the top method today’s employees use to seek new opportunities. Companies have an opportunity to elevate their corporate image and attract passive candidates – especially through the use of social media networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. 

Achievers research revealed the secret ingredients for retention are communication, feedback and recognition. There is an overwhelming opportunity to improve the quality and frequency of feedback to improve performance within an organization. 

More than a third of the employee respondents disagreed that they receive regular recognition. Recognition is the best form of feedback, but only when it’s specific, timely and meaningful. You lose those elements when you provide recognition annually, semi-annually and even monthly. When positive behaviors are recognized, those behaviors are then repeated. 

Most legacy programs focus solely on rewards – and rewards for length of service, or tenure. Employees who achieve tenure milestones can usually choose merchandise of their choice at escalating levels of value. It’s questionable whether the achievement of these tenure-based rewards motivates any employee to stay with employer at all. By delivering more informal types of rewards and recognition, HR can overcome the employer –employee relationship gap and make employees feel more recognized. 

While engagement can be tactically addressed through improving manager/supervisor communication and feedback skills, as well as through the increase of effective recognition experiences and the reduction of expensive and ineffective reward programs, the ability to inspire employees to do their best work also has a positive impact on engagement.  

Over 20 percent of employees either disagreed or strongly disagreed that their company culture is positive, strong and motivating. Strong cultures of recognition – that include frequent, constructive feedback – will inspire greater discretionary effort and provide a platform for inspiring the hearts and minds of employees. 

Business is competitive and talent is the competitive advantage. To win the war-for-talent and retain your top performers, it’s necessary to understand the current workforce and create a talent strategy that is in line with your EVP and continually strives to create happy employees and loyal customers. 

Are your employees receiving enough feedback? Do you know how your workforce wants to be rewarded? 

Razor Suleman is the chief evangelist and founder of Achievers (Formerly I Love Rewards). Achievers' global rewards and social recognition software engages employees and drives performance. For more information, visit