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Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: Strengthening Employee Engagement

Is your workforce recognized at an acceptable rate? According to Gallup’s analysis, probably not. In a recent survey, they found that only 1 out of 3 U.S. workers feel they received adequate recognition in the past seven days. Even worse, employees that aren’t recognized at a satisfactory level are twice as likely to leave their job compared to those that are. Why should you care? Because 70% of workers say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated and companies with the most engaged employees report revenue growth at a rate of 2.5X greater than their competitors with the lowest levels of engagement.

It’s clear that an effective employee engagement program that makes recognition timely and ubiquitous can help your company reach new heights. Take Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) for example.

With a commitment to serving with excellence and dedication, Horizon BCBSNJ has worked to deliver quality health insurance to the people and businesses of New Jersey for over 80 years.

“Our Promise” as defined by Horizon BCBSNJ

“Our Promise” as defined by Horizon BCBSNJ

This commitment to dedication and enrichment isn’t limited to external recipients. HBSBCNJ understands that their success as a business would not be not possible without an engaged and committed workforce. Because they place such an emphasis on the well-being of their employees, they have historically scored high on employee engagement surveys.

But in 2013, seeking to replace their manually facilitated employee recognition program with a streamlined, automated solution, Horizon BCBSNJ partnered with Achievers to offer their employees an unbeatable platform that would better leverage the modern workforce’s affinity for frequent, specific recognition to obtain key business objectives.

Horizon BCBSNJ debuted their employee engagement and recognition program, Step It Up, to more than 5,000 employees across four locations and saw almost universal adoption from the get-go. The program reached a 90 percent activation rate by year’s end, with that rate further ballooning to the 97 percent it sits at today. In addition to the extremely high activation rate, Horizon BCBSNJ saw other positive results, such as:

  • A 6 percent increase in overall employee engagement scores
  • A 14 percent improvement in engagement survey results related to employee recognition

Gallup states that recognition “might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers.” Horizon BCBSNJ is not missing out on this massive opportunity for management; their leadership team is among the most active users on Step It Up, solidifying the employee engagement and recognition program as a very important pillar of their employee strategy.

Furthermore, with trackable data flowing through the system, Horizon BCBSNJ’s HR team has a better understanding of concepts that used to be a guessing game, such as employee morale, and can swiftly pinpoint the cause of any decrease.

The results realized at Horizon BCBSNJ is proof that any workforce can benefit from an effective employee engagement and recognition program, even one that is already engaged. To learn more, access Horizon BCBSNJ’s Case Study.

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About the Author

Iain FerreiraIain Ferreira is the Content Marketing Manager at Achievers. He lives in San Francisco. You can view his Linkedin profile here.





Employee Engagement

Why Your CEO Doesn’t Care About Employee Engagement (Yet)

It seems that we can’t turn around today without having a conversation that touches on employee engagement. Yet despite all the attention, it hasn’t really moved the needle. In the time that Gallup has been measuring engagement, it hasn’t changed–engagement levels are hovering right around 30 percent. At the same time, Google data shows that there’s been a steady climb in searches and interest in the topic for the last five years.

But to what end? Many companies are trying to improve this measure with little or no success.

I’m going to offer two answers to this question that not only illuminate the problem, but give you some options to consider as you try to combat the problematic issue of disengaged employees.

Engagement Should Not Be an HR Program

The first response many leaders have when they get that annual feedback survey from employees to say, “Oh, no! Engagement is down. Let’s create a program to push engagement up!”

Good luck with that.

The truth is that employees are probably tired of your “programs.” Programs begin and end. A great employment relationship does more to drive engagement than a one-size-fits-all program that’s going to last a few weeks and fade into memory. Plus, as long as the company is meeting the basic elements of an employee’s needs financially, other factors come into play for influencing the level of engagement, according to motivational theory.

A large chunk of money isn’t even going to work, even though many companies can’t afford to offer that to each of their staff. More money has been shown to reduce dissatisfaction, but it doesn’t drive happiness or increased satisfaction for the employee.

The challenge is to see engagement not as a one-off activity, but as a holistic view of the employee experience. Being able to tie each of those disparate activities together into a cohesive experience that employees are proud of is a key element to ultimately driving engagement numbers. That means everything from the first moment the person applies for a job all the way through to managing work schedules, getting performance reviews, and beyond.

Every opportunity for interaction with the organization is either a plus or a minus in the engagement column, and while we can’t expect to win every battle every time, the goal is to keep that number going in a positive direction over time (and reaping the rewards of that increased engagement, which we’ll talk about below).

Engagement Should Not Be the Ultimate Outcome

Some leaders check engagement scores as if they were the latest sports scores, hoping for good things but feeling no control over the outcome. In reality, engagement is not the outcome we are shooting for–we are looking for something deeper and more meaningful. It’s time to change the way we think about this HR metric, because it needs to become a leading business metric. Consider the following examples of how engagement can lead to increased value for virtually any company:

  • Innovation. Companies everywhere are trying to create more innovative atmospheres for employees. But what if the answer isn’t open office space but a higher engagement score? Innovation is a key outcome of engagement. Research by Gallup found that 61 percent of engaged employees feed off the creativity of their colleagues, compared to a mere 9 percent of disengaged employees. In addition, it found that 59 percent of engaged employees believe their job brings out their most creative ideas, compared to only 3 percent of disengaged employees.
  • Retention. The only thing better than engaging our employees is keeping them around to deliver excellent results over time. Towers Watson research points out that retention is tied in with many of the factors that play into employee engagement, such as career advancement opportunities, confidence in senior leadership, and a manageable amount of work-related stress. Manage those factors well, and employees will stick around and produce results.
  • Revenue. In a discussion of concrete impacts, we would be remiss if we didn’t touch on the one that matters most to many organizations: the bottom line. There are several pieces of research that demonstrate the link between engagement and financial results. According to Towers Perrin research, companies with engaged workers have 6 percent higher net profit margins, and Kenexa research points out that engaged companies have five times higher shareholder returns over five years.

Each of these points helps to paint a more nuanced picture of employee engagement, establishing it not as a standalone program or an end result, but as a holistic journey towards greater business results. And that, ultimately, is how we can get the CEO, the leadership team, and the rest of the company on board with the idea of promoting and supporting engagement as a long-term business strategy.

Want to learn more about this topic and dig deeper into the concept? I’ll be leading a session titled Stop Measuring Engagement For Its Own Sake at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 event in New Orleans and I’d love to have you join me for the discussion.

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About the Author
Ben Eubanks
Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research
Ben Eubanks is a human capital management industry analyst who helps companies and vendors with strategy, content, and more. Ben has over seven years of tactical and strategic experience spanning all areas of HR and he is a nationally-recognized author and speaker on trends and best practices in human capital management. Ben is the principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory where he oversees the development of research, assets, and insights to support HR, learning, and talent vendors across the globe. Ben also co-founded the HRevolution conference for HR and recruiting leaders and is one of four members that holds this annual event, attracting hundreds of attendees from around the globe since its inception.