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Employee engagement might not have been HR’s foremost concern last year, but things might change significantly in 2016.

A global study released by the Hay Group division of Korn Ferry highlighted that there is a “critical need” to improve employee engagement.

The survey, which canvasses responses from more than 7,500 business and HR leaders in 107 countries, found that across all leadership levels, an average of only 36% of employees are “highly engaged.”

It highlighted that C-suite leaders are the most highly engaged, at 63%.

But engagement levels drop to 50% for senior executives, and they drop even more significantly to: 33% for high potentials, 20% for mid-level leaders, and 15% for first-level leaders.


The survey highlighted, however, that leveraging a social responsibility agenda to develop leaders can help reverse this trend.

In fact, the vast majority (87%) of respondents in the survey said that linking an organisation’s social responsibility efforts to leadership development has a positive impact on overall engagement and performance.

ALSO READ: Who should be in charge of employee engagement?


Unfortunately, only 59% of respondents said their organisations actually do link the two.

“Real leadership development doesn’t happen in the classroom. That just sets the stage,” said Hay Group senior partner Keith Halperin.

“The real development happens on the job, and in today’s world employees are looking for organisations 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.”

The report stressed the companies should pay more attention to their corporate social responsibility programmes as employees increasingly judge organisations by what they contribute to society and how well they live up to their own values.

A growing number of people—from Millennials new to the workforce to senior executives looking to give back to society—want to work in companies that are aligned with their values and committed to serving the world in a positive way.

When asked what would most dramatically improve their feelings about their job, 69% of respondents in another Korn Ferry survey said “working for a company whose culture is aligned with my values.”

When competing for talent—especially promising leaders earlier in their careers— the report stated that organisations may find that their capacity to project meaning and purpose becomes a critical part of their reputation and value proposition for prospectives.

When determining which jobs to accept, executives say Millennials and Generation X weigh heavily an organisation’s “mission/vision” or its “reputation and vision.”

“Tapping into an organisation’s social responsibility platform is critically important to attracting, developing and retaining top talent,” said Noah Rabinowitz, senior partner and global head of Hay Group’s Leadership Development Practice.

“It provides a source of natural inspiration for people that is tied to the broader mission and purpose of an organisation.”

Image: Shutterstock

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