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Consultant’s blog: Employee engagement in Singapore hits five year low

Opinion piece by one of Insync’s Research Project Manager

All too often we read about the need for employee engagement without consideration of employee alignment. “Employee engagement” can be defined as the extent to which employees feel pride in their work, their organisation and what the organisation achieves.

“Alignment” however is the link between strategy and execution, and without this organisation performance is left to chance.

We know that employee engagement has a direct impact on an organisation’s profitability and during this turbulent economic period, should profitability really be left to chance? It might not be the preferred state, but this appears to be happening in Singapore, a place where the economic outlook should be considerably brighter than other global regions. Could this be happening at your workplace?

Recent research by the Hay Group indicates that 52% of Singaporeans plan to leave their present organisation in five years’ time (as opposed to 44% globally; generally tenure is around seven years in Australia). Employee engagement it seems has been decreasing consistently since 2007.  What is the reason for this? It seems that over a third of Singaporeans claim that their employers put barriers in place to stop employees performing. The churn of staff is costly to any organisation, which goes against most objectives. So is the Singaporean workforce correct? Are corporations really putting success barriers in place?

It seems unlikely that employers would purposely demotivate employees. Is it not more likely that practices have failed to keep pace with staff and customer evolution, or that practices have kept pace but simply staff have been inadequately trained, or the systems have been rolled out insufficiently?

Insync’s own academic and statistical research in developing our Alignment and Engagement Survey identified 10 factors that are essential to the high performance of any organisation. Amongst these are the factors “Investment in systems” and “Investment in people”; asking staff about the systems that they use most on a day-to-day basis continuously reveals to managers of barriers that they were unaware existed.

Many times over, staff reveal IT processes that cause frustration to their clients, phone systems which have become too highly automated and accounts packages that lose data or require complicated manual updates.

A decrease in employee engagement could be addressed by making it easier for staff to do their job. It requires awareness and alignment between strategy and execution.

Does your organisation follow long standing processes just because it’s the way it’s always been done? Or are there IT glitches yet to be resolved, but have been on the backburner? Now is the time to act!

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