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Employee engagement biggest obstacle for 2018

?Engagement topped the list of topics causing the most concern for the year ahead

In Cascade's survey of 447 HR directors, 44% said their biggest hurdle for the coming year would be engagement, followed by staff retention (36%), absence management and recruitment (33%), and succession and planning (26%).

2018 HR Landscape: What’s In Store? found little has changed from 2017 when 39% of respondents said they were worried about employee engagement.

Oliver Shaw, chief executive of Cascade, said that the figures should not necessarily be a cause for concern, however, as HR professionals are well-equipped to face the difficulties ahead. “There can be no doubt that 2017 has been a very challenging and difficult year for the entire business community… the changing landscape will certainly keep everyone on their toes,” he said.

“But let’s face it – there is never a time when organisations do not encounter external pressures of some sort. It’s how companies deal with it that is important.”

Shaw went on to cite figures from the study revealing that HR’s biggest challenges were similar to the areas where they felt they performed well, with 26% of respondents stating their teams “excelled” at employee engagement.

However, Christoph Williams, talent and performance manager at Sony Europe, warned that employee engagement is a pervasive problem in HR.

“I’m not at all surprised that employee engagement has come up as the top concern for HR. It’s an all-encompassing issue that branches into other problems; when employee engagement goes down turnover goes up and retention goes down,” he told HR magazine.

“To me there are several areas leading to low engagement," he continued. "Managers are being asked to take on too much and are not able to focus on leading their teams, too much emphasis is being placed upon colleagues working as individuals rather than as a team, and there’s been too much emphasis on efficiency rather than rewarding work.”

Williams went on to explain that while employee engagement is a complex issue, a focus on personal fulfilment is needed to start to address the problem. “Research has long shown that paying employees large sums of money is not enough to keep them happy at work," he said. "Employee engagement has to start with an understanding of the psychological impact a job has on an individual.”