Daily Archives: November 11, 2011

Aon Hewitt: Global Employee Satisfaction At Tipping Point.

Workforces worldwide are reaching their tipping point as employee satisfaction, or engagement, continues to be sluggish and remains at the lowest level since 2008, according to analysis recently released by Aon Hewitt, the global human resource consulting and outsourcing business.

At the end of the third quarter, Aon Hewitt analyzed its Employee Engagement Database of more than 5,700 employers, representing five million employees worldwide. The findings reveal an engagement level of 56 percent thus far in 2011, which is the same as 2010, but lower than 2009 (60 percent) and 2008 (57 percent). Traditionally, engagement levels between 65 percent and 100 percent represent a high-performing culture; 45 percent to 65 percent indicate the workforce is indifferent to organizational success or failure; and anything lower than 45 percent represents a serious or destructive range.

According to Aon Hewitt, the largest drop in engagement this year is employees’ perception of how companies manage performance. Workers worldwide believe their employers have not provided the appropriate focus or level of management that would lead to increased productivity, nor have they connected individual performance to organizational goals.

“A significant number of employees are not motivated enough to provide extra effort beyond the job requirements and many anticipate leaving their employers in the near future,” said Pete Sanborn, Talent and Organization Consulting global practice leader for Aon Hewitt. “This is critical, as our research continues to show a strong correlation between employee engagement and financial performance, even in turbulent financial times. For example, in 2010, organizations with engagement levels of 65 percent or greater outperformed the total stock market index and posted total shareholder returns 22 percent higher than average. On the other hand, companies with engagement of 45 percent or less had a total shareholder return that was 28 percent lower than the average return in 2010.”

Engagement Drivers

Aon Hewitt further analyzed this 2011 data and measured satisfaction scores for key drives of engagement, with its benchmark database. This revealed that Managing Performance (the way we manage performance here keeps me focused on achieving this organization’s goals) dropped nearly 8 percentage points globally thus far in 2011, with a global satisfaction score of 44 percent. Regionally, Managing Performance inLatin America is at 55 percent, followed by the U.S. (50 percent), Canada (49 percent), Asia Pacific (49 percent) and Europe (36 percent).

Engagement scores connected to Managing Performance also are low. For example, Career Opportunities (my career opportunities here look good) has a 42 percent global satisfaction level, Recognition (appropriate recognition beyond pay and benefits for an employee’s contribution) is at 40 percent globally, Tools & Resources (contribution of tools and resources toward employee productivity) is at 51 percent worldwide, while Senior Leadership (evidence of effective leadership from senior leaders) has a score of 48 percent globally.


Engagement Driver Satisfaction Scores for the First Nine Months of 2011
Category Global Asia Pacific Europe Latin America Canada U.S.
Career Opportunities 42% 48% 33% 51% 48% 50%
Recognition 40% 46% 34% 45% 45% 48%
Tools & Resources 51% 57% 46% 58% 50% 54%
Senior Leadership 48% 54% 39% 62% 57% 54%

“Our analysis suggests that even at the height of the recession, employees felt a greater connection to their work and role in achieving organizational success than they do now,” said Sanborn. “This is a harsh reality, but also an opportunity for those employers willing to invest in specific areas that will have the largest impact on employee engagement. While there is an expense in doing so, the return on investment can be well worth the effort.”

Following are universally applicable best practices for improving and maintaining engagement:

  • Create a strategy for improving employee engagement based on data with specific goals
  • Communicate a clear “employment deal” that links the success of the company to employees
  • Display authentic leadership; be consistently open, honest and transparent
  • Invest in improving the capabilities of middle managers

HR Official Wins Own EEOC Equal Pay Case.

Memo to the CEO: When it comes to pay parity, don’t mess with a human-resources pro, because it could get even messier in court.

Maybe Amtrak should have taken that advice when paying human-resources director Sheila Davidson, now director of workforce development at Amtrak.

A federal court in Philadelphia approved a consent decree requiring Amtrak to pay Davidson $171,483 in back compensation, damages, and attorney’s fees.

Amtrak also agreed to boost Davidson’s annual salary by $16,505.

HR people “are aware of their rights,” said Philip Kovnat, the attorney who handled the case for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In the decree, approved by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, Amtrak denies discriminating against Davidson and retaliating against her after she complained.

Calls and e-mails to Amtrak’s attorney in this case were not returned. An Amtrak spokeswoman declined to comment.

That a gender pay gap exists between men and women is well-known. In 2010, women earned an average weekly salary of $669, while men earned $824 – a 23 percent difference – according to a recent report from the U.S. Labor Department.

But proving that gap in an average workplace is difficult. Many employees have no idea what their colleagues in the next office earn.

Not Sheila Davidson.

“She knew exactly what everyone was making in the company,” Kovnat said. He said it was not uncommon for human-resources people to file EEOC complaints.

Davidson’s issues began in 2007 when Amtrak changed its corporate structure. In 2000, eight years after Amtrak hired her, Davidson became responsible for human resources in one region. A male colleague handled the neighboring area.

Her region had been larger, but the two were paid the same, Kovnat said, because pay was based on job title, not the number of personnel for which each was responsible.

After layoffs, attrition, and other downsizings, positions were reshuffled. Davidson moved into her current job – director of workforce development – and her male colleague became responsible for his territory and hers.

It sounds like a bigger job, but the joined territory had fewer people in it than hers did at its height, she said.

Even so, the lawsuit said, he got a raise – a significant one.

The raise in the settlement puts her on par with her colleague. She’ll earn $116,439 a year, up from $99,934.

Kovnat said Davidson tried to resolve the issue internally, and when that didn’t work she went to the EEOC – and she knew exactly how to do it. Davidson, a human-resources professional with 25 years’ experience, had handled EEOC discrimination complaints for Amtrak for eight years.

As part of the decree, three top Amtrak executives will have to spend four hours in training on complying with federal antidiscrimination laws on pay and retaliation.

After she turned to the EEOC, Davidson “has been very much ostracized and excluded and there was a general atmosphere where she was seen as a pariah,” the EEOC attorney said.

The lawsuit, filed in February, said she was excluded from senior staff meetings.

Source:  Jane M. Von Bergen, Philly.com.


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