CDI Corporation

Employee Engagement Begins with Managers

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Staff engagement among the U.S. workforce has remained steady at 33 percent over the past few years, according to recent data from Gallup. This is quite low considering that strong employee engagement is the catalyst for company growth and success. Numbers worldwide are even starker, with 87 percent of workers reporting being disengaged at the office.

As managers across the country scramble to increase feelings of ambition, connection and enthusiasm among employees, they should first start by looking within. While a wide range of factors can impact the degree of involvement people feel with their company, poor management ranks at the top. Managers are reportedly responsible for 70 percent of feelings of imbalance and discontentment among their employees. The good news is that there are a number of simple, effective ways managers can boost employee engagement.

“A great leader understands that the success of a company relies heavily on the dedication, commitment and achievements of the employees,” says Bill Hyman, vice president of human resources for CDI Corporation’s Talent and Technology Solutions business. “Managers should not underestimate the importance of serving as a performance coach, providing ongoing feedback to employees about their work goals, and advice on how they can be more productive, successful and ultimately advance within their career. Doing this presents managers with the opportunity to empower their employees, whether they are permanent workers or contractors, to not only become engaged, but to go above and beyond.”

Hyman provides the following tips for raising employee engagement:

1. Cultivate trust
Cultivating an environment of trust is an important way to ensure that all staff members feel valued, heard and comfortable. Trust is not just about leaders acting in a fair or equitable manner, being accountable, or honoring the agreements that they’ve made with staff. Employees also want to feel their managers will back them up in tough or negative situations, even sharing in the blame when necessary. When an environment of trust is created in this manner, it strengthens relationships with employees, making them more likely to want to work hard and do well. On average, those with supportive supervisors are 67 percent more engaged in the company, based on data from The Energy Group.

2. Promote open communication
Regular meetings, consistent social contact and open channels for communication are key for promoting open and honest dialogue between managers and employees. When managers are empathetic and aware of others, they’re more likely to be in tune with the general consensus among employees. Responding to all questions, concerns and feedback – and taking each one seriously – in an adequate time frame confirms that each employee’s voice is heard and valued. This is especially true for contract employees who often feel more like outsiders rather than a part of the team.

3. Maintain visibility
Rather than being tucked away in a corner office with the door frequently closed, managers should be accessible and visible throughout the workplace. Doing so makes employees feel more comfortable reaching out and asking questions. It also further enhances open communication. Along the same lines, recognizing the hard work and accomplishments of the company’s blended workforce is just as important. Publicly acknowledging the work of staff members encourages a healthy commitment to advancing the organization’s mission.

4. Lead by example
When managers lead by example, not only are employees more likely to remain at the company or renew their contracts, they’re also much more engaged. Workers don’t just want their leaders to be accountable, they want managers to provide mentorship and guidance for how to be more effective, based on their own experience. By demonstrating the behaviors and qualities that are expected of staff members, and investing time in developing direct reports, managers can boost engagement and improve work ethic.

“Improving employee engagement should be at the forefront of a manager’s responsibilities,” adds Hyman. “When managers try to understanding what’s important to employees and focus on creating an inclusive environment where all voices are heard, employee engagement, retention of top performers, and ultimately customer satisfaction will naturally skyrocket.”

Recent CDI Analysis

“Managers should not underestimate the importance of serving as a performance coach, providing ongoing feedback to employees about their work goals, and advice on how they can be more productive, successful and ultimately advance within their career.”

Bill Hyman
Vice President of Human Resources,
Talent and Technology Solutions
CDI Corporation

Employment Situation (U.S.)

Job growth in April was a bit disappointing with the U.S. economy adding only 160,000 jobs, much lower than the approximately 202,000 roles predicted by economists. This marked the lowest number of job gains in seven months. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5 percent.

The labor force participation rate lowered slightly by 0.02 percent, coming in at 62.8 percent for April. The employment-population ratio was also down slightly, at 59.7 percent. Concerns that slowed economic growth is flowing over into the labor market has led to doubt on whether or not the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates by the end of the year.

Despite the stepdown in job gains, average hourly earnings of private-sector workers rose 0.3 percent from last month. Increasing 8 cents, the average hourly earnings for April was $25.53. Wages advanced 2.5 percent from a year prior, stronger than the advance in March.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the economy should still be able to grow without excessive job gains. Last year, Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, said that an increase of 100,000 jobs each month is adequate for retaining new entrants to the labor force. “The labor market is healing,” Ms. Yellen said last month. “We’re coming close to our assigned congressional goal of maximum employment.”

Jobs in the healthcare field increased by 44,000 with 23,000 of those positions in hospitals and 19,000 in ambulatory health care services. The industry has seen a 502,000 increase in jobs over the year.

The professional and business service sector has added an average of 51,000 jobs each month in the past year, bringing in 65,000 new employees in April. Management and technical consulting services grew the most with 21,000 job gains, followed by computer systems design and related services at 7,000.

In the past 12 months, financial activities has added 160,000 jobs, creating another 20,000 last month. Credit intermediation and related activities added 8,000 jobs.

The mining industry saw a loss in jobs, down 7,000.

Job growth in other industries including construction, manufacturing, retail trade and government saw little change throughout the month.

The full Bureau of Labor Statistics report can be downloaded by
clicking here.

Employment Situation (Canada)

Following job growth in March, employment was little changed in April, with the unemployment rate holding at 7.1 per cent. Employment decreased by 2,100 positions, which the Financial Post noted "hardly moved the dial," since the margin of error for Statistics Canada, which calculated the employment figures, is 30,000.

Economists had predicted that hiring would grow by about 1,000 positions and that joblessness would rise by one-decimal-point in throughout the month. However, many analysts saw the April employment news as relatively positive, given that Canada added an impressive 40,600 jobs in March, the Toronto Star noted.

Employment was up 144,000 jobs compared to a year prior, an increase of 0.8 per cent. Over the year, full- and part-time work rose, with a 0.9 per cent increase in total hours worked.

The services-producing sector as a whole added 35,000 jobs in April. Wholesale and retail trade gained 27,000 jobs during the month, contributing to year-over-year growth of 1.7 per cent, or 47,000 jobs. Finance and professional services added nearly 5,000 jobs.

The Financial Post cited a new report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada that found that 35 per cent of top executives predict job growth in their companies, an increase of 31 per cent from the previous quarter.

For many of the industries that lost jobs in April, their employment figures were little changed over the year.

Manufacturing employment decreased by 17,000 in April. Employment in the industry was down 3 per cent since December 2015, though there was relatively little change over the year.

The business, building and other support services industry lost 16,000 jobs, though again, employment was little changed compared to April 2015.

Natural resources employment declined by 7,800 during the month, down 6.4 per cent year-over-year.

Canadian ES Report:
Labour Force Survey, April 2016

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