Engaging Employees Is Still One Of The Biggest Challenges For Any Business

What does it take, and why does it matter?

Most management experts agree that engaged employees are productive employees.

That sounds good, but it could be bad news for many Hong Kong businesses. Because, according to statistics from the global HR consulting firm Mercer, overall engagement levels in Hong Kong are some of the lowest in the Asia Pacific region – even lower than Mainland China or India.

The question is how much does it matter? And the answer is quite a lot!

Research by Gallup suggests that a more engaged workforce can lead to higher sales (20%), higher profitability (21%), and even higher stock prices (30%). Gallup reports that staff in engaged workplaces are 17% more productive than their peers, and exhibit 41% less absenteeism.

Other sources suggest that engaged employees can be up to 87% less likely to leave the organization. The cost of replacing an employee can range from 20% of annual salary for a mid-level manager all the way past 200% for a CEO or senior leader.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A joint study by Mercer and six other entities showed that un-engaged employees are costing United States companies up to US$550 billion a year. The jury is still out what it might be costing Hong Kong.


Why Aren’t More Employees Engaged?

What is employee engagement? In simple terms it is a measure of someone’s attitude at work. By tracking metrics such as satisfaction and happiness, it tries to pinpoint how staff think, feel and act in terms of helping their employer meet their goals.

Organizations have been measuring engagement for years, and annual or bi-annual surveys have become standard for the majority of global firms. But it isn’t producing companies packed with highly fulfilled and productive workers. So why aren’t engagement levels improving?

The reason is there are a several serious disconnects.

Disconnects Between Targets And Real Change

Firstly, in many cases employee feedback is only collected through the annual engagement survey. Unfortunately, such surveys are often far more focused on executive presentations, hitting targets, and comparing metrics than on actually improving organizational behaviour and engagement.

Furthermore, many executives don’t know which employee experience targets to aim for. They might be fixating on how their engagement scores compare to high performing competitors or getting a ‘Best Employer’ badge, while prospective employees are searching social media for reviews on what it’s actually like to work there.

Disconnects Between Feedback Data And Business Results

The inherent challenge of linking annual engagement survey data to business metrics like revenue, productivity, and profits only compounds the focus on targets over change.

According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, nearly 80% of executives rated employee experience as important, but only 22% judged their own companies as excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.

Connecting employee feedback data to business outcomes is possible, but challenging, and the listening mechanisms used by organizations greatly impact their ability to do this.

Disconnects Between Employee Surveys And … Employees

The classic engagement survey comes around once a year. Which means it is unlikely to measure employees’ views at times that are most relevant to them. This, combined with often lengthy messaging and communication around the survey event, means that these surveys are frequently perceived as driving the agenda of the organization rather than reflecting the experiences of employees.

Analytics Is Changing The Picture

These disconnects have resulted in an industry standard that doesn’t generate the results that it should. And yet, too few companies move beyond it. The primary reason for this is probably confusion about the availability of meaningful alternatives and how to better measure and manage the employee experience.

The good news is that operational data about employees are becoming more and more accessible. This has led organizations to invest in analytical systems to facilitate data-driven decisions. One of them is Qualtrics – an employee engagement software platform, which SAP acquired in November last year.


Qualtrics makes it easy to understand every experience that matters to employees and automatically deliver real-time insights to their managers so they can take action. Employee feedback automatically maps to the organisation’s org chart so everyone can see the insights that matter most to them.

Ultimately, the data mapping between operational and experience data could provide the missing link to connect employee experiences and business decisions.

The experience data collected at these moments can bolster an organization’s ability to create consistent and valuable experiences. And those experiences create engaged, happy, and productive employees.

Download whitepaper of SAP Qualtrics Employee Engagement: https://www.sap.com/hk/cmp/dg/hk-qualtrics-ex19/index.html

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