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  The Herman Trend Alert

August 14, 2013

Keeping the Love Alive

Although we would hope that most employees begin a new job being highly engaged; unfortunately, the data are somewhat less encouraging. Recently the Gallup Organization analyzed employees' engagement against their length of service. Not surprisingly, engagement peaks during the first six months; during this "Honeymoon Period", still, only half (52 percent) of employees are "engaged" at this point, while 40 percent are "not engaged", and 8 percent are "actively disengaged".

Lior Arussy CEO of the customer experience company Strativity calls these actively disengaged employees "corporate terrorists"---an excellent characterization.

We believe that the 52 percent score is generated by a combination of new employees feeling "good about expectations and [their perception that they will have] opportunities to learn and grow". (Great insight for employers) These data from Gallup reflect the huge opportunity for improvement in the onboarding process.

For many employees, the first six months at a new job are the best. Regrettably, we also know from this study that as time passes, employees become less and less engaged. Once the honeymoon is over, engagement drops to 44 percent and seems to stay there for a ten-year period.

As we have said so many times in the past, engagement and retention begin with onboarding. However we do not define onboarding as most do; we believe that onboarding begins with their very first contact and ends (for most) with the close of their first year of employment. The Gallup study suggests the time frame may be six months. This period is the best chance that the organization and its leaders have to bond with new employees. Moreover, it is critical to "continue the engagement momentum beyond the first six months".

Writing in the "Gallup Business Journal", authors and Gallup employees Sorenson and Garman outline their suggestions for responding to this situation. The authors suggest assigning buddies or sponsors to provide "workplace friends to show them the ropes". It is also very important that new workers "believe their opinions count, or to feel their contributions are being recognized".

Finally Gallup has also shown that for many employees consistent attention with "focused initiatives" to improve engagement works. Wise employers have already figured this out. Those that ignore this information do so at their own peril.

Companies will appear to support small and medium-size employers to create these focused initiatives, either using gamification or other technologies. These scalable systems will allow smaller organizations to compete with the larger ones.

Special thanks to our subscriber Chris Hogg and the "Gallup Business Journal" for this valuable story.

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