En­hanc­ing Em­ployee En­gage­ment through Learn­ing and De­vel­op­ment

THE TERM “EM­PLOYEE EN­GAGE­MENT” SEEMS TO BE POP­PING UP EVERY­WHERE TH­ESE DAYS. DOES IT RE­ALLY MAT­TER TO THE SUC­CESS OF AN OR­GAN­I­SA­TION OR IS IT THE LAT­EST OVERUSED BUZZ­WORD?

Insurance - - CONTENTS - Text Cindy Henry | Se­nior As­so­ci­a­tion (Prod­uct Man­age­ment) | LOMA

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent “State of the Global Work­force Re­port” pub­lished by Gallup, Inc., em­ployee en­gage­ment, or the lack of it, is a per­va­sive prob­lem through­out the world. The re­sults show that as many as 70% of the U.S. work­force is disen­gaged and as many as 9 out of 10 em­ploy­ees are disen­gaged in Asia. This prob­lem is es­ti­mated to cost or­gan­i­sa­tions, on av­er­age, more than $2,600 per em­ployee per year, ac­cord­ing to Brian Braudis, a lead­er­ship and man­age­ment con­sul­tant.

With so much at stake, what can an or­gan­i­sa­tion do to im­prove em­ployee en­gage­ment? Although dif­fer­ences in ge­og­ra­phy, cul­ture, and gen­er­a­tion im­pact what drives en­gage­ment glob­ally, em­ploy­ees state, with­out ex­cep­tion, they want to be part of an or­gan­i­sa­tion that of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­vel­op­ment, pro­vides re­wards for per­for­mance, and has a solid rep­u­ta­tion. In fact, in ev­ery re­gion sur­veyed, the de­sire for de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties topped the list of em­ployee en­gage­ment driv­ers1.

Seventy-six per­cent of em­ploy­ees sur­veyed said they look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to ac­quire new knowl­edge and de­velop skills, but only 34% of em­ploy­ees feel that they are get­ting the train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion they need2. When you com­bine th­ese two statis­tics with the low en­gage­ment scores men­tioned above, it be­comes ob­vi­ous that one rea­son em­ploy­ees are not de­liv­er­ing their full dis­cre­tionary ef­fort is be­cause they don’t feel their de­vel­op­ment needs are met. And although most feel their em­ploy­ers gen­er­ally sat­isfy their needs for on-the-job-de­vel­op­ment, they re­port that op­por­tu­ni­ties for for­mal de­vel­op­ment are lack­ing.

The very em­ploy­ees who are the most valu­able – those who are con­stantly look­ing to ex­pand their ex­per­tise and sharpen their skills – are the ones who are most likely to leave an or­gan­i­sa­tion if de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties are not made avail­able to them. They be­come de­mo­ti­vated and look else­where for per­sonal and pro­fes­sional sat­is­fac­tion. Stud­ies have shown that the lack of learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties contributes up to 25% of staff turnover. With the cost of em­ployee turnover rang­ing from 30% of an­nual salary for en­try level em­ploy­ees to 150% for mid-level em­ploy­ees to as much as 400% for high-level em­ploy­ees, em­ploy­ers must con­sider ways to re­duce un­nec­es­sary turnover. Pro­vid­ing the for­mal learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties that sur­veys say em­ploy­ees want helps mit­i­gate high turnover rates.

One of the most ef­fec­tive ways to im­ple­ment for­mal train­ing pro­grams in or­gan­i­sa­tions is through the use of ro­bust on­board­ing pro­grammes. On­board­ing has been shown to shorten the time to com­pe­tence for newly hired em­ploy­ees. The faster th­ese hires be­come self-suf­fi­cient and pro­duc­tive, the faster the or­gan­i­sa­tion can ex­e­cute its busi­ness strat­egy. Forty per­cent of em­ploy­ees who re­ceive poor on­board­ing leave their po­si­tions within the first year. An ef­fec­tive on­board­ing pro­gramme can be a very cost ef­fec­tive ap­proach for im­prov­ing em­ployee re­ten­tion, sat­is­fac­tion, and, ul­ti­mately, en­gage­ment.

Within the in­surance in­dus­try, on­board­ing is par­tic­u­larly cru­cial. The na­ture of the busi­ness is com­plex and, with a myr­iad of prod­ucts and un­fa­mil­iar ter­mi­nol­ogy, new em­ploy­ees be­come eas­ily over­whelmed and in­tim­i­dated. Pro­vid­ing new hires with ed­u­ca­tion that ex­poses them to in­surance con­cepts, ter­mi­nol­ogy, and ba­sic prod­uct knowl­edge early in the hir­ing process bet­ter pre­pares them for sub­se­quent on-the-job train­ing. Or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Malaysian In­surance In­sti­tute (MII) and LOMA in­clude in their cur­ric­ula foun­da­tional ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses ideal for in­clu­sion in an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s on­board­ing pro­gramme. Be­cause th­ese cour­ses fo­cus on uni­ver­sal con­cepts, an

or­gan­i­sa­tion’s in-house learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment staff can fo­cus their ef­forts on de­vel­op­ing ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties spe­cific to the or­gan­i­sa­tion rather than de­vel­op­ing gen­eral in­surance ed­u­ca­tion. By com­bin­ing both gen­eral foun­da­tional ed­u­ca­tion with com­pany-spe­cific train­ing, or­gan­i­sa­tions can be as­sured that new hires be­gin their ca­reers with the best pos­si­ble chance for suc­cess.

But, an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s com­mit­ment to es­tab­lish­ing for­mal de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties doesn’t stop with on­board­ing. A well-de­signed con­tin­u­ous train­ing and de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme can fos­ter em­ployee en­gage­ment by help­ing em­ploy­ees learn new things and im­prove job per­for­mance. Em­ploy­ees’ con­fi­dence is en­hanced when they be­lieve they are do­ing a good job and they are val­ued by their or­gan­i­sa­tion. Most em­ploy­ees en­joy va­ri­ety in their jobs and want to see the po­ten­tial for de­vel­op­ment within their roles. When or­gan­i­sa­tions fol­low up ro­bust on­board­ing pro­grammes with op­por­tu­ni­ties for em­ploy­ees at all lev­els, they con­tinue de­vel­op­ing their knowl­edge of the in­dus­try. Ad­di­tional job-spe­cific tech­ni­cal train­ing com­ple­ments this gen­eral in­dus­try knowl­edge and re­sults in en­gaged em­ploy­ees with the knowl­edge and skills to drive an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s per­for­mance.

There is a quan­tifi­able cor­re­la­tion be­tween in­creased lev­els of em­ployee en­gage­ment and or­gan­i­sa­tional suc­cess. Aon He­witt’s Trends in Global Em­ployee En­gage­ment 2014 sug­gests that ev­ery 0.6% sales in­crease could be at­trib­uted to an in­cre­men­tal per­cent­age point of en­gaged em­ploy­ees. To put that statis­tic in per­spec­tive, a $5 bil­lion com­pany could po­ten­tially in­crease op­er­at­ing in­come by $20 mil­lion dol­lars for ev­ery 1% in­crease in em­ployee en­gage­ment. Aon He­witt’s re­search also un­cov­ered an as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween to­tal share­holder re­turn (TSR) and lev­els of em­ployee en­gage­ment. The re­port found that TSR was 50% higher than av­er­age for or­gan­i­sa­tions with the most highly en­gaged em­ploy­ees. Statis­tics such as th­ese are not sim­ple anom­alies. More than 29 re­search stud­ies sup­port the cor­re­la­tion be­tween em­ployee en­gage­ment and im­proved or­gan­i­sa­tional re­sults.

Sim­ply stated, in­creas­ing em­ployee en­gage­ment is crit­i­cal for im­prov­ing em­ployee morale, in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity, and gain­ing com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. Although many fac­tors im­pact em­ployee en­gage­ment, im­ple­ment­ing for­mal learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes and mak­ing them ac­ces­si­ble is one way to en­gage em­ploy­ees in a mean­ing­ful way. The re­sults of such pro­grammes can be ob­served quickly and their suc­cess is eas­ily quan­ti­fied.

When em­ploy­ees re­ceive a solid in­tro­duc­tion to the com­pany and the in­surance in­dus­try, when they re­ceive job-re­lated train­ing, and when they have ac­cess to ad­di­tional ed­u­ca­tion that pro­vides broad in­dus­try knowl­edge, the com­pany gains en­gaged em­ploy­ees who have the busi­ness acu­men to per­form their jobs and con­trib­ute to com­pany re­sults.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions that em­brace this for­mula for suc­cess have bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grammes than those that do not. Suc­cess­ful or­gan­i­sa­tions recog­nise that they can­not af­ford to com­pro­mise their ta­lent agenda, es­pe­cially given the im­por­tance of that ta­lent to their longterm growth.

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