January 2017 Prosperity at Work E-Tip

Special Press Release

Economics & Job Creation:

Life Sciences:
“The Value of Human Capital to the Global Economy”

“Implantable microrobots: Innovative manufacturing platform makes intricate biocompatible micromachines”

“Brain protein predicts recovery time following concussion”

The Industrials:
“Influencing Workplace Culture Through Employee Recognition”

Human Capital Solutions, Inc. (HCS) www.humancs.com is a Retained Executive Search and Professional Recruiting firm focused in Healthcare, Life Sciences, the Industrials, and Technology. Visit our LinkedIn Company Page to learn more about HCS and receive weekly updates.

HCS has created the Prosperity at Work proposition which focuses on creating prosperous relationships between companies and their employees (associates). HCS assists companies in improving bottom line profitability by efficiently planning, organizing and implementing optimized, practical and value-added business solutions.


Special Press Release:

Human Capital Solutions, Inc. (HCS) with corporate offices located in Wilmington, NC is expanding and opening a new office in Raleigh, NC.   “Our firm will be celebrating our 14 year anniversary in just a few months and we are excited to see the psychology of the marketplace improve and swing more favorably for companies to grow, hire, and expand” states Bo Burch, CEO of HCS.  In addition to opening the new office, Mark Lombard has joined HCS as Managing Director of Life  Sciences, Healthcare and Technology. Mark will be growing and delivering on business primarily in that market geography.

Mark’s success in the business of science was built upon more than a decade of research experience as a drug discovery molecular biologist with Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline and Pharmacia & Upjohn (now part of Pfizer).  His scientific career primarily centered on elucidating protein-protein interactions and signaling pathways in support of target discovery and validation programs in oncology, infectious, neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases.  Mark has presented his research to domestic as well as international audiences and has co-authored publications in several peer-reviewed scientific journals such as Cancer Research, Molecular Biology of the Cell, Genomics and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Mark received his BS in biology and his MS in molecular biology from Western Michigan University and an MBA with an emphasis on biosciences management from North Carolina State University.

“Our firm is delighted to welcome Mark Lombard to the team at Human Capital Solutions,” concludes Bo Burch.


Economics & Job Creation:


Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 156,000 in December, and the unemployment rate
was little changed at 4.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Job growth occurred in health care and social assistance.
Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Household Survey Data

Seasonally adjusted household survey data have been revised using updated seasonal
adjustment factors, a procedure done at the end of each calendar year. Seasonally
adjusted estimates back to January 2012 were subject to revision. The unemployment
rates for January 2016 through November 2016 (as originally published and as
revised) appear in table A, along with additional information about the revisions.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate, at 4.7 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.5
million, changed little in December. However, both measures edged down in the fourth
quarter, after showing little net change earlier in the year. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.4 percent), adult
women (4.3 percent), teenagers (14.7 percent), Whites (4.3 percent), Blacks (7.8 percent),
Asians (2.6 percent), and Hispanics (5.9 percent) showed little change in December. (See
tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially
unchanged at 1.8 million in December and accounted for 24.2 percent of the unemployed. In
2016, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 263,000. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, changed little in December and was
unchanged over the year. In December, the employment-population ratio was 59.7 percent
for the third consecutive month; this measure showed little change, on net, in 2016.
(See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (also referred to as
involuntary part-time workers), at 5.6 million, was essentially unchanged in December
but was down by 459,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred
full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or
because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

In December, 1.7 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little
changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals
were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a
job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they
had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 426,000 discouraged workers in December, down
by 237,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged
workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are
available to them. The remaining 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor
force in December had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or
family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 156,000 in December, with an increase in health
care and social assistance. Job growth totaled 2.2 million in 2016, less than the increase
of 2.7 million in 2015. (See table B-1.)

Employment in health care rose by 43,000 in December, with most of the increase occurring
in ambulatory health care services (+30,000) and hospitals (+11,000). Health care added
an average of 35,000 jobs per month in 2016, roughly in line with the average monthly
gain of 39,000 in 2015.

Social assistance added 20,000 jobs in December, reflecting job growth in individual and
family services (+21,000). In 2016, social assistance added 92,000 jobs, down from an
increase of 162,000 in 2015.

Employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend up in December (+30,000).
This industry added 247,000 jobs in 2016, fewer than the 359,000 jobs gained in 2015.

Employment also continued to trend up in transportation and warehousing in December
(+15,000). Within the industry, employment expanded by 12,000 in couriers and messengers.
In 2016, transportation and warehousing added 62,000 jobs, down from a gain of 110,000
jobs in 2015.

Employment in financial activities continued on an upward trend in December (+13,000).
This is in line with the average monthly gains for the industry over the past 2 years.

In December, employment edged up in manufacturing (+17,000), with a gain of 15,000 in the
durable goods component. However, since reaching a recent peak in January, manufacturing
employment has declined by 63,000.

Employment in professional and business services was little changed in December (+15,000),
following an increase of 65,000 in November. The industry added 522,000 jobs in 2016.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade,
retail trade, information, and government, changed little in December.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3
hours in December. In manufacturing, the workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours,
and overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and
nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained at 33.6 hours. (See
tables B-2 and B-7.)

In December, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
increased by 10 cents to $26.00, after edging down by 2 cents in November. Over the
year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.9 percent. In December, average hourly
earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents
to $21.80. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October was revised down from +142,000
to +135,000, and the change for November was revised up from +178,000 to +204,000. With
these revisions, employment gains in October and November were 19,000 higher than
previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 165,000 per month.



Life Sciences:

“The Value of Human Capital to the Global Economy”

A recent study conducted for Korn Ferry by the Centre for Economics and Business Research finds that human capital represents to the global economy a potential value of $1.2 quadrillion. This is 2.33 times that of physical capital, which is valued at $521 trillion and includes tangible assets like technology, real estate and inventory.

Human capital is the greatest value creator available to organizations: For every $1 invested in human capital, $11.39 is added to GDP, the Korn Ferry economic analysis finds. That return on human capital — value versus cost — should give a clear signal to CEOs: Investing in people can generate value for the organization over time that significantly exceeds initial financial outlay.

“Although organizations often put technology in the spotlight in the future of work, it is human capital that holds the greatest value for organizations now and in the future,” said Jean-Marc Laouchez, global solutions managing director for Korn Ferry Hay Group. “When an innovation strikes gold, the connection between the value that’s created and the team behind the technology is often lost,” he noted. Leaders therefore must recognize and capture the value of all their resources to succeed.

“People, as assets, appreciate,” said Mr. Laouchez. “This distinguishes them from physical assets, which operate at a limited maximum output and which typically depreciate over time.”

Trillion Dollar Value

There are two key reasons why people represent not only significant financial value but also value-generation capability to organizations: potential and appreciation. The performance of people can be influenced; hence it has great potential. By creating the right environments, CEOs can raise performance and release discretionary effort — the hustle that a machine will never make. Meanwhile humans, as capital, also do something that machines cannot: They gain experience and knowledge over time, in ways that even the most sophisticated algorithms cannot.

People have empathy and the more senior they become, the more they grow their ability to generate further value. In economic terms: People, as assets, appreciate. CEOs who are equipped with these insights should, as they look to invest time and financial resources wisely to harness the value of both human and physical capital in the future of work, consider how to create a high-value partnership between technology and people.

CEO Blind Spot

There is a clear trend to align and magnify the relative importance of technology in the future of work. Another study by Korn Ferry found that 67 percent of CEOs said they believe that technology will create greater value in the future than human capital will and 63 percent of CEOs said they perceive that technology will become their organization’s greatest source of future competitive advantage. But the economic reality differs sharply, with human capital, not physical capital, creating the greatest value for organizations.

CEOs’ distorted perceptions demonstrate the extent to which people are being painted out of the future of work — and the risk to organizations that do not recognize the potential of people to generate value: 44 percent of leaders in large global businesses told Korn Ferry that they believe that the prevalence of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) will make people “largely irrelevant” in the future of work.

Leaders may be demonstrating, in a big way, what experts call tangibility bias. Facing uncertainty, they are putting a priority in their thinking, planning, and execution on the tangible — what they can see, touch and measure.

Meantime, 64 percent of leader-respondents told Korn Ferry that they see people as a bottom-line cost, not a top-line value generator. Are today’s corporate accounting principles, which classify people as an expense rather than an asset, causing organizations to under-allocate strategic focus, capital, time, and other resources to people, their primary value generator?

Technology does not create itself. It does not prompt greater efficiency in isolation. But organizational leaders and corporate investors are not making the connection now between people (their workforce) and value generation, between tangible assets and their activation by the workforce. Korn Ferry’s research supports the critical finding that CEOs can value the workforce more and, by understanding its great worth and potential, they can focus on releasing it.

Human Capital Value Globally

Although the structure and size of a country’s economy frames the relative value of human to physical capital, the critical importance of people is clear to see. In each of the eight nations analyzed in the Korn Ferry study, the human capital value exceeds the value of physical capital.

Even in nations weighted toward agriculture and industry, the value of human capital exceeds physical assets. In China, with human capital assets valued at $110 trillion and physical assets valued at $49 trillion, the human capital to physical asset ratio is 2.23. In India, the value of human capital is $80 trillion and the physical capital is valued at $48 trillion, making the human capital ratio 1.67.

Markets with service-based economies experience higher ratios, meaning the value of human capital further outstrips that of physical capital. The ratio is greatest in the U.K., where, human capital (valued at $27 trillion) is 4.23 times higher than physical capital (valued at $6 trillion). The U.S. holds the human capital of greatest value, at $244 trillion. With physical capital valued at $62 trillion, the U.S. has the second highest human capital ratio of the analyzed nations, at 3.92.

“The economic reality of human capital value magnifies the importance of attracting and retaining the right people now and in the future. Technology alone cannot deliver the uplift in productivity and value every organization needs,” said Jeanne MacDonald, global operating executive and president, talent acquisition solutions, for Korn Ferry Futurestep. “The digital world is fundamentally changing the connections between companies, their employees and their customers. In many ways, technology is strengthening these connections — breaking down structural, geographic and cultural barriers to bring customers closer and link up global colleagues.”

“But CEOs must keep their eyes wide open to the potential pitfalls of the digital revolution, including asking technology to do all the work to the exclusion of people,” Ms. MacDonald said.

The Future of Work

To increase performance and generate optimum value in the future of work, CEOs first need to change their perspective. They must close the gap between their perception that technology will be a greater value creator in the future than human capital and the economic reality that people are organizations’ most valuable asset. Enlightened CEOs will partner technology and people — maximizing the performance of both of these assets to generate value.

There is a worrying lack of confidence in leaders’ own ability to improve human performance, however, with 62 percent of CEOs telling Korn Ferry that they believe they can’t materially influence their people’s performance. Korn Ferry, through research and long practice, has shown that workforce performance can be boosted, in part, by giving people the tools, conditions, and structure they need to do great work. Organizations that get these elements and conditions right can release discretionary energy that generates significant value. This can ensure that people remain top-line value multipliers, not bottom line expenses.

Although familiarity can blind leaders to this reality, it is the partnership of people and technology — not just technology alone — that holds the key to performance. Humans will play a critical role in the future of work, inventing, using, consuming, and benefiting from technology. As a result, people will be, as they long have been, the most significant driver of organizational performance.

“How to measure return on people has long been a challenge for leaders. Faced with an information vacuum, leaders are mistakenly concluding that, because they can’t easily measure the value generated by people, it’s not there,” said Tania Lennon, a senior client partner with Korn Ferry Hay Group. “The current approach taken to managing people as a bottom line cost will, in the value paradigm of the future, fail to create a high performance team. People are the cornerstone of superior performance, but organizations are not investing the time or resources needed to unleash it.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media





“Implantable microrobots: Innovative manufacturing platform makes intricate biocompatible micromachines”

A team of researchers led by Biomedical Engineering Professor Sam Sia at Columbia Engineering has developed a way to manufacture microscale-sized machines from biomaterials that can safely be implanted in the body. Working with hydrogels, which are biocompatible materials that engineers have been studying for decades, Sia has invented a new technique that stacks the soft material in layers to make devices that have three-dimensional, freely moving parts. The study, published online January 4, 2017, in Science Robotics, demonstrates a fast manufacturing method Sia calls “implantable microelectromechanical systems” (iMEMS).

By exploiting the unique mechanical properties of hydrogels, the researchers developed a “locking mechanism” for precise actuation and movement of freely moving parts, which can provide functions such as valves, manifolds, rotors, pumps, and drug delivery. They were able to tune the biomaterials within a wide range of mechanical and diffusive properties and to control them after implantation without a sustained power supply such as a toxic battery. They then tested the “payload” delivery in a bone cancer model and found that the triggering of release of doxorubicin from the device over 10 days showed high treatment efficacy and low toxicity, at 1/10 of the standard systemic chemotherapy dose.

“Overall, our iMEMS platform enables development of biocompatible implantable microdevices with a wide range of intricate moving components that can be wirelessly controlled on demand and solves issues of device powering and biocompatibility,” says Sia, also a member of the Data Science Institute. “We’re really excited about this because we’ve been able to connect the world of biomaterials with that of complex, elaborate medical devices. Our platform has a large number of potential applications, including the drug delivery system demonstrated in our paper which is linked to providing tailored drug doses for precision medicine.”

Most current implantable microdevices have static components rather than moving parts and, because they require batteries or other toxic electronics, have limited biocompatibility. Sia’s team spent more than eight years working on how to solve this problem. “Hydrogels are difficult to work with, as they are soft and not compatible with traditional machining techniques,” says Sau Yin Chin, lead author of the study who worked with Sia. “We have tuned the mechanical properties and carefully matched the stiffness of structures that come in contact with each other within the device. Gears that interlock have to be stiff in order to allow for force transmission and to withstand repeated actuation. Conversely, structures that form locking mechanisms have to be soft and flexible to allow for the gears to slip by them during actuation, while at the same time they have to be stiff enough to hold the gears in place when the device is not actuated. We also studied the diffusive properties of the hydrogels to ensure that the loaded drugs do not easily diffuse through the hydrogel layers.”

The team used light to polymerize sheets of gel and incorporated a stepper mechanization to control the z-axis and pattern the sheets layer by layer, giving them three-dimensionality. Controlling the z-axis enabled the researchers to create composite structures within one layer of the hydrogel while managing the thickness of each layer throughout the fabrication process. They were able to stack multiple layers that are precisely aligned and, because they could polymerize a layer at a time, one right after the other, the complex structure was built in under 30 minutes.

Sia’s iMEMS technique addresses several fundamental considerations in building biocompatible microdevices, micromachines, and microrobots: how to power small robotic devices without using toxic batteries, how to make small biocompatible moveable components that are not silicon which has limited biocompatibility, and how to communicate wirelessly once implanted (radio frequency microelectronics require power, are relatively large, and are not biocompatible). The researchers were able to trigger the iMEMS device to release additional payloads over days to weeks after implantation. They were also able to achieve precise actuation by using magnetic forces to induce gear movements that, in turn, bend structural beams made of hydrogels with highly tunable properties. (Magnetic iron particles are commonly used and FDA-approved for human use as contrast agents.)

In collaboration with Francis Lee, an orthopedic surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center at the time of the study, the team tested the drug delivery system on mice with bone cancer. The iMEMS system delivered chemotherapy adjacent to the cancer, and limited tumor growth while showing less toxicity than chemotherapy administered throughout the body.

“These microscale components can be used for microelectromechanical systems, for larger devices ranging from drug delivery to catheters to cardiac pacemakers, and soft robotics,” notes Sia. “People are already making replacement tissues and now we can make small implantable devices, sensors, or robots that we can talk to wirelessly. Our iMEMS system could bring the field a step closer in developing soft miniaturized robots that can safely interact with humans and other living systems.”




“Brain protein predicts recovery time following concussion”

Elevated levels of the brain protein tau following a sport-related concussion are associated with a longer recovery period and delayed return to play for athletes, according to a study published in the January 6, 2017 issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The findings suggest that tau, which can be measured in the blood, may serve as a marker to help physicians determine an athlete’s readiness to return to the game.

Despite the 3.8 million sports-related concussions that occur annually in the United States, there are no objective tools to confirm when an athlete is ready to resume play. Returning to play too early, before the brain has healed, increases an athlete’s risk of long-term physical and cognitive problems, especially if he or she sustains another concussion. Currently, physicians and trainers must make return-to-play decisions based on an athlete’s subjective, self-reported symptoms and their performance on standardized tests of memory and attention.

A team led by Jessica Gill, R.N., Ph.D. of the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health and Jeffrey Bazarian, M.D., M.P.H. of the University of Rochester Medical Center evaluated changes in tau in 46 Division I and III college athletes who experienced a concussion. Tau, which plays a role in the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was measured in preseason blood samples and again within 6 hours following concussion using an ultra-sensitive technology that allows researchers to detect single protein molecules.

The athletes — a mix of soccer, football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse players from the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology — were divided into two groups based on recovery time. Athletes in the “long return to play” group took more than 10 days to recover following concussion, while athletes in the “short return to play” group took less than 10 days to return to their sport.

Individuals in the long return to play group had higher levels of tau in their blood 6 hours after concussion compared to those in the short return to play group. Long return to play athletes also exhibited a jump in tau from preseason levels compared to their short return to play counterparts. Statistical analyses showed that higher blood tau concentrations 6 hours post-concussion consistently predicted that an athlete would take more than 10 days to resume play.

“This study suggests that tau may be a useful biomarker for identifying athletes who may take longer to recover after a concussion,” said Bazarian, professor of Emergency Medicine and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at URMC who treats patients at the UR Medicine Sports Concussion Clinic. “Athletes are typically eager to get back to play as soon as possible and may tell doctors that they’re better even when they’re not. Tau is an unbiased measurement that can’t be gamed; athletes can’t fake it. It may be that tau combined with current clinical assessments could help us make more informed return-to-play decisions and prevent players from going back to a contact sport when their brains are still healing.”

The study included both male and female athletes and showed that tau-related changes occurred in both genders across a variety of sports. The team found significant differences based on sex: women made up 61 percent of the long return to play group, but only 28 percent of the short return to play group. Bazarian says this isn’t surprising; it’s well established that females take longer to recover following concussion than males.

Bazarian and Gill acknowledge that the study is limited by its small size and that more research is needed to establish tau as a biomarker of concussion severity. Next steps include getting blood samples from athletes immediately following a concussion to see if the relationship between tau and return to play holds true on the sideline in the first few minutes following a head hit.



The Industrials:

“Influencing Workplace Culture Through Employee Recognition”

As employers look for ways to deal with the challenges of low employee retention and high turnover, a new survey released from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and social recognition solutions provider Globoforce shows more organizations are tying employee recognition efforts to their core values.

According to SHRM’s survey, ‘Influencing Workplace Culture Though Employee Recognition and Other Efforts,’ respondents considered employee retention and turnover the top workforce management challenge of 2016. Almost one half of the surveyed organizations (46 percent) cited it as a top challenge in 2016, an increase from 25 percent in 2012. Other top workforce management challenges for at least one third of organizations were employee engagement (36 percent), recruitment (34 percent) and succession planning (33 percent).

Tying Recognition to Core Values

Improving employee recognition efforts could be one strategy to help organizations mitigate these challenges. The majority of respondents indicated that their employee recognition programs had positive impacts on employee engagement, workplace cultureretention and employee happiness.

Another key finding showed that more organizations are tying employee recognition efforts to their core values with good results. Overall, 81 percent of organizations surveyed had an employee recognition program, and 60 percent said their program was tied to organizational core values, an increase from 50 percent in 2012.

The study found that HR professionals in organizations where an employee recognition program is tied to organizational values perceive that the program delivers a stronger return on investment and has a greater impact on instilling and reinforcing corporate values, maintaining a strong employer brand, and meeting learning and development goals.

“This increase is a positive development because HR professionals were more likely to rate their organization’s employee recognition efforts highly if the program was tied to organizational values compared with those that were not tied to values,” said Tanya Mulvey, SHRM’s lead researcher on the survey.

Those whose programs were tied to organizational values perceived greater benefits in a variety of areas, including return on investment — 70 percent versus 38 percent, and instilling & reinforcing corporate values — 88 percent versus 57 percent.

Eighty percent of organizations that linked recognition and values said the programs helped maintain a strong employer brand, compared to just 49 percent without those ties. Two thirds (67 percent) of organizations with the linkage said their programs helped meet financial goals, while 41 percent of employers whose programs were not tied to values cited this benefit.

Additionally, when organizations dedicated at least one percent of payroll to recognition programs that were more likely to say that the programs helped the employer attract new job candidates, meet learning and development goals, meet cost-control goals and retain employees.

The survey findings also showed that many organizations are making other efforts besides employee recognition to influence workplace culture and create a more positive workplace, including by using health and wellness programs (81 percent), and learning & development programs (80 percent).

Managing Employee Performance

The survey examined what organizations do to manage employee performance. Most employers (71 percent) conduct performance reviews on an annual basis, while 17 percent do so on a semiannual basis and five percent do so quarterly or more often. But HR professionals are evenly divided on whether such reviews provide an accurate appraisal of employees’ work, with 41 percent saying they do and 40 percent saying they do not. Another 19 percent were not sure.

A common performance-improvement technique that can be difficult to implement effectively is coaching. Over one half of organizations reported having a system that prompts managers to coach employees, and nearly three quarters of HR professionals agreed that coaching was either very or somewhat important. Yet more than nine in 10 HR professionals said managers needed more training on how to coach employees effectively.

Engaging Employees

Perhaps the best way to get the most out of an employee is to make sure they are engaged in their respective jobs. Employee engagement forms the foundation of many talent acquisition leaders’ approach to human capital. Engagement binds employees to an organization’s core values and its purpose. And it is engagement that puts people first, front and center, as an integral part of corporate business strategy.

Employee engagement is a whole lot like gravity, which binds the employees to core values, what the company stands for and the mission the company is on,” said Vineet Gambhir, vice president and head of talent for Yahoo! in Asia Pacific. “If the company were a house, then engaged employees would be its foundation. Even if the house were solidly built, without that foundation it would crumble. I see employee engagement through this sort of lens.” People go home after work and talk about what they worked on, whom they met and what they did, Mr. Gambhir added. “Their work experience is what drives them and how their day went is a function of the culture in the office.”

“Full time U.S. employees work nearly 50 hours a week – equivalent to almost six working days,” said Mark Royal of Korn Ferry Hay Group. “When you consider that nearly a third of employees are not engaged, that’s a lot of time wasted for both those employees and their employers who are not getting the full impact of their potenial.” Additional Korn Ferry Hay Group research demonstrates that an engaged workforce has a significant impact on the bottom line, boosting revenue growth up to two and a half times, depending on the level of engagement.

Employee Engagement Lacking

A critical need exists to improve employee engagement, according to a survey released by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry. The survey, which includes data from more than 7,500 business and HR leaders in 107 countries, found that across all leadership levels an average of only 36 percent of employees are “highly engaged.”

The vast majority (87 percent) of respondents said that linking an organization’s social responsibility efforts to leadership development has a positive impact on overall engagement and performance. Unfortunately, only 59 percent of respondents said their organizations actually do link the two.

“Real leadership development doesn’t happen in the classroom. That just sets the stage,” said Keith Halperin, a senior partner of Hay Group. “The real development happens on the job, and in today’s world employees are looking for organizations that are giving back to the community. Where there’s purpose, there’s a sense of meaning. There’s a sense of value. Opportunities to give back and serve are perfect places to develop leadership.”

Companies Not In Tune With Employees

Businesses are not in tune with their employees’ perceptions of engagement, training and career development, according to a just-released survey of human resource executives conducted by talent management solutions provider Saba. The survey indicated the need for consistent employee feedback across age groups and genders in order to gain an accurate measure of engagement across an entire organization. It also confirms the need for continuous feedback to gain early warning of gaps between the perception and reality of the effectiveness of training and development programs.

The survey indicated that companies do not have continuous channels for engagement and feedback because the majority of employees are rarely asked for their feedback – less than a few times a year.  Based on these statistics and anomalies in engagement, it seems understandable why more than half of HR leaders (51 percent) and employees (52 percent) believe their organizations do not have a good employee feedback process.

Gaps In Perception 

While all the Saba survey respondents agreed that their companies are falling short on providing access to effective training, what was most surprising is the disparity between their responses. Only 22 percent of employees believe their organizations are very effective in providing easy access to training and development and the same percentage believe their organizations provide training and development that helps in career advancement. In contrast, HR managers are significantly more optimistic – 41 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

These gaps in perception are directly related to companies not having channels for continuous feedback. If companies are not in tune with their employees, it is extremely difficult for them to offer effective programs that will improve their employees’ professional development, according to the report’s conclusions.

“Employees need to be empowered to provide suggestions for improvement or what they like, giving them a voice in the company,” said Amanda Green, vice president of training and development at boutique executive search firm Becker Wright Consultants. “The first 90 days is a make it or break time for any new hire. Providing a feedback mechanism early on helps reinforce the culture of continuous feedback.”

The firm recently helped one of its clients implement a 90-day new hire employee roundtable to engage freshly hired associates during the very beginning of their tenure. The purpose, said Mrs. Green, was to solicit specific feedback on their hiring and onboarding experience. It is one part of the process that she said companies frequently miss, and this leads not only to disengagement but hiring misfires.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media




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