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20 AUGUST 2014
Employee engagement: Companies not responding to new rules

Performance, retention at risk as six converging global trends change the game.

Over three-quarters of engagement leaders (84 percent) believe that companies must engage their workforces differently if they are to succeed in the future. Yet fewer than a third (30 percent) believe their organisations are doing enough to adapt appropriately to the changes that lie ahead, according to new research from Hay Group, the global management consulting firm.

Hay Group interviewed 300 heads of employee engagement from FTSE 250 and Fortune 500 companies regarding the implications of six converging megatrends (as identified in their Leadership 2030 research) that, both individually and combined, are fundamentally transforming the global business environment: Individualism, Digitisation, Technological Convergence, Demographic Change, Globalisation 2.0 and the Environmental Crisis. “The New Rules of Engagement” just released by Hay Group describes how each megatrend is impacting workplaces and employees, and explains what engagement leaders must do now to adapt.

“In the years ahead, companies seeking to develop effective engagement strategies will need to be as focused on what’s happening outside the organisation as they are on dynamics within it,” says Royal. “The megatrends transforming economies and societies come with profound implications for how companies will be organised and led. If companies don’t adjust their approaches to employee engagement now, they will be unable to attract and retain talent through these major shifts.” The pressure for organisations to adapt is intensified by additional Hay Group research which suggests that nearly a quarter of employees worldwide - or 192 million people - will change jobs by 2018.

Human resources professionals continue to list employee engagement as the top issue keeping them up at night. But just as they generally view their companies as sluggish in responding to the new rules of engagement, most are also personally struggling to adapt to the trends. Two-thirds of those surveyed (67 percent) said they have not personally changed the way they operate in light of the megatrends.

As for the trends themselves, survey respondents named Individualism and Digitisation as the two megatrends that will have the greatest impact on their employee engagement strategies – and the megatrends that will be most challenging to address. “Growing affluence, especially in emerging markets, has led individuals to be increasingly focused on personal wants and needs,” says Royal. “Engagement approaches will need to be more personalised in response, tapping into employees’ particular preferences and expectations.” At the same time, digitisation is altering the way employees connect to organisations and to each other. Royal observes that “leaders will need to find ways to manage and engage teams that rarely meet - and sidestep the risks of burnout that come with a workforce that is continuously connected to work and ‘always on.’”

In a future transformed by the megatrends, Royal notes that approaches to engagement will need to be:

  • Continuous. “Engagement must be part of everyday business operations, not just an annual exercise. And it needs to be constantly monitored and managed over a broad range of channels.”
  • Responsive. “Engagement strategies can no longer be confined to the four walls of the organisation. All companies are intricately connected to the wider world. Engagement approaches need to be dynamic, constantly adapting to a changing business environment.”
  • Personal. “As workforces become more diverse and focused on personal needs, one-size-fits-all approaches will not work. But engagement strategies should consider not only what the organisation can do for employees, but also how individuals can take responsibility for their own engagement at work.”
  • Localised. “The days of managing engagement from only the corporate centre are over. With continued globalisation, engagement professionals will need autonomy to take the actions that will drive teams to succeed in their local markets.”

“The megatrends are converging to fundamentally change the way people work, what they value in a career, and what they want from their employers,” Royal says. “Engagement professionals face a critical opportunity to rethink their strategies in response to, and anticipation of, these shifts. The role of the engagement professional has become both increasingly critical and increasingly complex in fighting the global war for talent."

For further information

Download the new rules of engagement:

For more materials please visit www.haygroup.com/ww/newrulesofengagement. Mark Royal is co-author of the book “The Enemy of Engagement” (AMACOM, 2011), which includes more in-depth information about structuring work environments to avoid workplace frustration and translate employee engagement into improved productivity.


Korn Ferry
Hay Group is a global management consulting firm that works with leaders to transform strategy into reality. Everything we do supports our mission to ‘help organisations work’ through developing talent, organising people and motivating them to perform at their best. We are proud to be the only consulting firm of this kind in the world. With 85 offices located in 48 countries, we work with over 9 000 clients in 125 countries across the world. Visit our InfoCentre or website.

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