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Employee Engagement in North America

veronica bazFollowing is our first guest post from one of our newest board members, Veronica Baz.  She was formerly the General Director of the Centre of Research for Development (CIDAC), one of Mexico's most prestigious thinks tanks, where she developed new strategies to allow public policy proposals to have a greater impact on national decision-makers.  She founded, one of the most visited sites in Spanish regarding job search, career path, and work skills.

 The Workforce Institute recently launched a report titled Is Employee Engagement the Driver for Business Success?  The survey behind the report was carried out among companies with more than 600 employees that have operations in Mexico. The report compares the survey findings in Mexico with the survey results in the Unites States and Canada.

It was interesting to see that the problems that large companies face in Mexico regarding human capital in their operations are very similar across all North America. Despite the very different geographical and social context, employees in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada struggle with technology, lack of recognition from supervisors, and administrative tasks.

Two of the findings I found most thought-provoking were associated with technology and the mismatch between employees' expectations and companies' HR strategies:

  • Employees are struggling with technology, treating it as an end in itself. Technology requires much more human work than is usually assumed. The survey identified that employees often consider technology to be an obstacle, either because it is obsolete or because it needs significant human effort for it to work properly. 42% of employees in Mexico and 49% across the three North American countries considered that technology was an obstacle in their daily jobs.
  • There continues to be a mismatch between employees' expectations and companies' HR strategies:
    • Problem 1. Not enough recognition and ownership. The survey confirms that recognition is a significant factor that has not been appropriately valued. We know that employees seek recognition and that salary is not the main reason why they leave a job. But the survey reveals just how few employees feel sufficiently recognized. Employees also tend to consider that CEOs are not concerned about their employees but rather almost exclusively focused on profits. Only 47% of CEOs in Mexico and 42% of those in the U.S. considered “human capital” as a main asset in their company.
    • Problem 2. Managers consider that employees need to be more committed to the business. But unless they feel recognized, this will not happen by itself.
    • Problem 3. Human Resource departments are perceived as not doing enough to solve any of the above problems.

In light of these perceptions, it is reasonable to question the current role and purpose of Human Resource departments. At the same time, the reality is that, at least in Mexico, rotation in HR departments is already high and HR staffers tend to be more concerned about everyday priorities such as dealing with red tape, labor laws, lawsuits, and finding talent fast enough, than taking care of the existing workforce or truly re-thinking their organizational function.



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