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Employee Engagement in JCPenney

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Human resource professionals juggle multiple responsibilities and do not have time to read long research reports, no matter how beneficial. Realistically, most HR practitioners will seek guidance from research findings only if they are presented in a clear, concise, and usable format. To address this issue and make research more accessible, the SHRM Foundation created the Effective Practice Guidelines series in 2004

The Foundation publishes a new report annually on different HR topics. Past reports, available from the Foundation, include Performance Management and Selection Assessment Methods. You are now reading the third report in the series: Employee Engagement and Commitment.

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A constant feature of today’s work environment is large-scale change. Organizations are forever changing the way they do business in response to growing international competition, a diversifying workforce, increasingly complex work environments, and shareholder pressures. Although these change strategies should accelerate an organization’s strategic and financial goals by streamlining organizational processes and offering cost saving solutions, this is often not the case because individuals find these transitions difficult to experience. Whether the change initiative comes in the form of restructuring, downsizing, implementing new technology, mergers or acquisitions, organizations are placing greater job demands on their employees. In this constant state of flux, individuals must adapt to their environment in order to survive and prosper. There is also a growing consensus that a key factor in determining the success of any organizational change involves employees’ acceptance of it and participation throughout the change process

Certainly, an individual’s ability to adapt to change is a key phenomenon for managers to understand and promote within their organizations. As such, individual adaptability is an important area of study. Extant research has consistently shown that change can be traumatic for individuals within an organization. Transformational organizational change is a significant life event for employees” and advance a model of adaptive responses to trauma that can be incorporated within an organizational context. Basing their research on patients dealing with coronary by-pass surgery, early stage breast cancer surgery and post-partum depression, they found that patients adapt differently to traumatic changes based on a number of variables. Although researchers in the field of trauma attend to both physical and mental aspects of the individual, most agree that the key to thriving after a trauma occurs at the mental level and is not dependent on physical recovery.

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Executives from around the world say that enhancing employee engagement is one of their top five global business strategies. Not only does engagement have the potential to significantly affect employee retention, productivity and loyalty, it is also a key link to customer satisfaction, company reputation and overall stakeholder value. Increasingly, organizations are turning to HR to set the agenda for employee engagement and commitment to establish a competitive advantage. Most executives already understand that employee engagement directly affects an organization's financial health and profitability

According to Gallup, just 33 percent of American workers are engaged by their jobs. Fifty-two percent say they're "just showing up," and 17 percent describe themselves as "actively disengaged"1; therefore, most employers have a lot of work to do to unlock the full potential of their workforce. Engagement and productivity can be affected by social cohesion, feeling supported by one's supervisor, information sharing, common goals and vision, communication, and trust. Employees want to feel valued and respected; they want to know that their work is meaningful and their ideas are heard. Highly engaged employees are more productive and committed to the organizations in which they work (Gallup, Inc., 2017). Many organizations conduct workforce surveys to measure levels of employee engagement within the organization and to analyze the relationships between employee engagement and key business outcomes. The results of such surveys can identify which engagement initiatives are achieving desired goals. Surveys can be helpful in gauging levels of employee engagement, but employers need to realize that employee engagement surveys differ from other employee surveys.

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Briefly, experience and education do not guarantee performance. People generally succeed or fail because of their behaviors and traits

Yet most companies favor technical skills over attitude in their hiring practices. A study by Leadership IQ found that 46% of new hires fail within 18 months and that 89% of these failures are due to poor attitude rather than lack of skills.

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Gallup, Inc. (2017). State of the American Workplace. Retrieved from

Quantum Workplace. (2012). The Six Forces Driving Engagement. Retrieved from|ae58ac43-c084-4278-9853-b4b92f5ef030

Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc. (2018). Employee Engagement: It's Time to Go 'All-In'. Retrieved from

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