Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Economy is Back... Now What?

The word is out! The economy is back with new optimism blossoming in the corporate world, as evidenced by higher budgets, new employee focused initiatives, and record breaking years expected in hotel bookings among other things. Gas prices and unemployment are down, GDP and real estate are back up to 2008 levels, and U.S business travel spending is projected to top $310 billion in 2015.

Spending on Incentive Travel programs is also on the rise, according to the Incentive Research Foundation. By the height of the recession in late 2009, Pulse Surveys from the IRF showed over 80% of planners were decreasing their incentive travel budgets either moderately or significantly, with virtually zero growth from any side of the market. In the fall of 2014, research showed 50% of planners increasing their budgets, with 25% of them maintaining budgets of over $4,000 per person heading into 2015.

I have spoken to many companies of late who are just beginning to get approval for employee engagement strategies. For those who are just starting on this journey, you have lots of catching up to do! This field is beginning to emerge as a real discipline with many HR executives looking to figure it all out. Now that the economy is back, what are you doing to do to hold on to those stellar employees that sweated through the down times with you? If you did not keep them engaged during this time (and over 70% of companies did not), what are the odds that they will be looking for greener pastures now that with opportunities abound with all the growth happening or predicted to happen?

Employee and enterprise engagement is not just the latest trend. In fact The Engaged Company Stock Index has outpaced the S&P 500 Index by 34% since it was launched in October of 2013. This Index might well be some of the most compelling evidence we have that engaging employees can affect corporate profits and hence lead to mid- to long-term share price performance. A recent survey of CEOs by Price Waterhouse Coopers found that 90% consider customer engagement a top priority this year, and 80% hold the same view for employee engagement.

Where to start:

• FIRE Light Group's Engagement Framework and Resources pages.
• Get the Engagement Textbook and/or do other research to beef up your basic knowledge.
• Figure out where you are on the engagement continuum – what systems are in place to implement a plan.
• Find partners that can help you move your organization along this continuum. Engagement is not typically a job that has been hired into the corporate infrastructure, you may need to hire experts in the field to help you implement an effective program.

The business case is there, engaging your employees and distributors results in greater profits and happier workers. So what do you resolve to do in 2015 to capitalize on this new opportunity?


Sandra Daniel
President and CEO, FIRE Light Group

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