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SHRM finds employee engagement, retention top list of challenges HR expects to face in coming years

Employee engagement is the top human resource challenge organizations anticipate facing in the next three to five years according to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The concern ranked “very important” and topped a list of four challenges with 69 percent of human resources professionals citing it as the top challenge followed by 63 percent who noted employee retention.

A little more than half, 53 percent, of human resource professionals said employee recruitment is a “very important” challenge they will face during the next three to five years, closely followed by 51 percent who pointed to managing the organizational culture, or culture management. The findings are highlighted in the survey, “Employee Recognition Programs,” conducted by SHRM and commissioned by Globoforce, a leading provider of solutions for recognizing and rewarding employees.

The survey shows that recognition is key –80 percent of human resource professionals said their organization has an employee recognition program in place. The 87 percent who said their organization does not track the return on investment, or ROI, of such programs did not diminish the practicality of employee recognition programs.

“Employers are recognizing typical areas of performance that are extremely important when it comes to maintaining happy workers who in turn are likely to remain highly engaged in their workplace,” said Evren Esen, manager, Survey Research Center at SHRM.

When asked of the most common employee recognition areas, human resource professionals responded as follows:

  • 58 percent said “years of service;”
  • 48 percent said “going above and beyond with an unexpected (not regular) work project;”
  • 43 percent said “successful performance results related to the organizational financial bottom line;”
  • 37 percent said “exemplary behavior that aligns with values;”
  • 9 percent said “completion of regular work projects with high quality results;”
  • 2 percent said “completion of regular work projects at a faster than usual pace;” and
  • 3 percent said “other.”

Methods used to track employee engagement also tend to reflect the practical. Roughly seven in 10, or 71 percent, of human resource professionals said the employee exit interviews are a key tool. The second most used tool is the employee retention rate said 65 percent of respondents, followed by 43 percent who said vendor-administered employee engagement surveys/analysis.

Notable, though small, is the 11 percent of respondents who said their organization follows employee social media activity –employee comments on internal and external company forums –to track employee engagement.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management; www.shrm.org.