It may not always be easy to define, but most managers know what strong employee engagement looks like when they see it.

It’s when employees don’t just show up for work, but when they demonstrate an innate understanding of an organization’s goals, a willingness to collaborate across functions and a drive to develop innovative solutions to key problems.

Unfortunately, human resource consulting firm Aon Hewitt’s latest research shows just how hard companies in Canada may need to work if they want employee engagement to improve. In its 2015 Trends in Global Employee Engagement Report, Aon Hewitt offers the results of surveying nine million employees at more than 1,000 companies in 164 countries, including Canada. The numbers aren’t encouraging:

  • Only 62 per cent of employees around the world say they feel engaged, an improvement of just one percent from the same study last year. In the world’s largest markets it was completely unchanged. 
  • Employees’ net satisfaction with their work experience plummeted 28 percentage points in 2014. Staff feel they are less autonomous and that they are accomplishing less than before.
  • Employees are less excited about future career opportunities with their employer as a way to boost their engagement. Positive perceptions surrounding this driver have fallen three points over the past year. 

On the bright side, there are a growing number of ways Canadian companies can beat these employee engagement benchmarks, if they are willing to make it a priority.

Bring Data-Driven Decision-Making to Employee Engagement Challenges

Much like other complex problems in business today, many organizations are realizing that gathering and sifting through information about employee satisfaction can be closely related to customer satisfaction. Canadian Business magazine profiled how more companies are using regular surveys to track the pulse of workplace morale. There is now analytics software widely available to tackle these kinds of “big data” problems and more.

Use Social Tools To Create a New Dialogue on Employee Engagement

Although many companies will have special events throughout the year to communicate a corporate vision and educate staff on organizational values, those are no longer the only opportunity to do so. Enterprise social networking tools allow leaders to provide real-time feedback on business problems and projects that reinforce these messages. They also become much more of a two-way conversation than an executive speech delivered to a company at large. recently discussed a report from the CMO Council and Executive Networks which suggested internal social networking is an overlooked area for many firms.

Unleash Information And Business Tools To Empower Disengaged Employees

A recent article on suggested employees are more engaged when they see how what they’re doing contributes to operational success. Cloud-based tools such as CRM provide detailed data not only on customers but business wins, opportunities and other moments where individuals can make a major difference to a company’s goals. Meanwhile, Benefits Canada recently argued that mobile apps are another way to give employees the kind of information they want at any time, and on a device of their choosing. If you don’t have a cloud or mobile app strategy already, tying it to employee engagement might be a great way to move forward.