HR Solutions changed the way that its organization and its clients approach employee engagement. Through PEER®, the Personal Employee Engagement Report, HR Solutions shifted the responsibility for employee engagement from management to a shared responsibility between employees and managers, thus working the issue from both sides of the fence.
HR Solutions is a Human Capital Management Consulting Firm based in Chicago, IL. It was founded in 1995 and has focused on innovation from the start.
HR Solutions provides employee surveys to millions of employees worldwide, and places an emphasis on building employee engagement levels post-survey. For years, the advice that our organization gave focused on strategies that organizations could utilize to build up their employees’ engagement levels. Engagement is important because it tends to lead to a number of positive business outcomes, including increased productivity, increased profitability, and decreased turnover.
In 2007, one of our clients, AtlantiCare, mentioned during a meeting that it would be nice if their employees could see for themselves how engaged or disengaged they are in the workplace. This started turning the proverbial wheels, and ultimately gave birth to the idea for PEER® - a personalized report showing employees exactly where they fell in the range from engaged to ambivalent to disengaged and gave best practices on how to improve their engagement. This tool was created both to boost engagement levels internally at HR Solutions as well as to help our clients improve engagement at their organizations.
The development of PEER® began in 2007, and roll-out began in 2009. PEER® was offered to HR Solutions’ internal employees in 2009 as an add-on to its annual employee survey. Employees were asked to take the survey to determine their engagement level, and then received a confidential personalized report via email that let them know their own engagement level, showed them opportunities for improvement, and gave best practices for improving those areas. The report then encouraged employees to set up a meeting with their direct supervisors to discuss the PEER® results and determine any steps they could take to improve their personal engagement levels.
The biggest hurdle to overcome was not in the creation of the tool, but rather educating people about the concept behind PEER®. For years, the common belief in the human resources world had been that managers and organizations should hold the responsibility for employee engagement. If a group of employees was not engaged, it was believed to be entirely blamed on management. That employees could actually take charge of their own engagement levels was (and still is to some) a radical idea. HR Solutions had to completely change the way that we approached engagement. The way that we ultimately overcame this challenge was through the results that PEER® produced.
Through the use of PEER®, HR Solutions saw a dramatic increase in engagement levels among our employees. In 2009 when PEER® was first utilized, only 29 percent of our employees were Actively Engaged, while 53 percent were Ambivalent and 18 percent were Actively Disengaged. The national norms for employee engagement in 2009 were 25 percent Actively Engaged, 59 percent Ambivalent, and 16 percent Actively Disengaged. However, after utilizing PEER® and working to improve engagement levels, scores skyrocketed in 2010. The percentage of employees in the Actively Engaged category rose to 46 percent, while the percentage of Ambivalent employees fell to 46 percent and the percentage of Actively Disengaged employees fell to just eight percent.
In 2010, HR Solutions also started using the PEER® Pulse survey, which was administered several weeks later. The purpose of PEER® Pulse is to determine what employees thought about PEER®. Sixty-seven percent of employees found that PEER® was useful to them, and 83 percent of employees said they would recommend PEER® to a colleague. What is incredible is that a full 100 percent of employees responded that their PEER® results were exactly what they expected. This data shows that after taking PEER® in 2009, employees gained a better understanding of the different levels of engagement, and could clearly see where they fell. PEER® was really working – not only did scores improve, but employees were doing just what the initiative intended: taking control of their own level of engagement.
Other organizations should look at the results that PEER® has produced and see that the way to see a dramatic improvement in employee engagement is to let employees take on some of the responsibility for their own engagement. Relationships are seemingly not functional when one party has all of the responsibility and power, whether it’s a friendship, marriage, or business relationship. It’s time to really give employees the power to improve their own engagement in the workplace.
Rick Lovering, Vice President, Human Resources & Organizational Development, AtlantiCare