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Written by: David Bator

Would you make a crucial business decision without consulting any data? Not if you're smart. Employee performance management strategies are critical to an organization's success, so they require the same careful, well-informed consideration. That's why it's essential for HR and managers to have access to the information they need to drive engagement and motivate their teams.

Employee engagement fuels business outcomes

Studies continue to demonstrate that workers who are more motivated and passionate about their jobs are more productive, effective and loyal to their companies. This can increase profits and reduce costly turnover rates.

According to Human Resource Executive Online, recent studies indicate that good management and employee engagement are becoming even more important as the job market improves and workers gain confidence in career mobility.

"Many managers who thought they could take advantage of people when times were tough are going to find out the hard way that when better opportunities come around, people will flee," Atlanta-based management consultant Aubrey Daniels told HRE Online.

The source noted that strategies like providing career development opportunities and closely monitoring satisfaction will be critical in the coming year.

Data-driven initiatives are key

A study by Right Management revealed that over half of HR managers admit their engagement programs are ineffective, Benefits Canada reported. Many managers rely on traditional methods or current  trends to try to motivate their employees. However, each company is different and requires unique strategies that target its workers' preferences to be effective. By collecting and analyzing information about business operations and employee opinions, supervisors can develop optimal programs.

"We are trying to inform the intuition of our managers - to temper their instincts with analytics," Leerom Segal, co-founder and CEO of Klick Health, explained to HRE Online. "When you do that, you get decisions that are based on data."

The trick for HR professionals and managers is to effectively use the data analytics that are now available through advanced technological tools, Lee Webster, director of HR standards at the Society for Human Resource Management, said in a panel discussion at Georgetown University.

Once-a-year strategies are insufficient

Many ineffective engagement strategies focus on one-time initiatives that supervisors conduct and then forget a couple weeks later. For example, soliciting feedback with an employee survey is one thing - implementing effective change based on the results is quite another. Managers need insights they can use to sustainably shape the trajectory of their company culture and fuel the performance of their teams in anes that feel m ongoing fashion.

"Employee engagement should be a mindset, not a program that starts and stops when morale is bad," said Scott Ahlstrand, Right Management's global practice leader for employee engagement.

HR experts told HRE Online that more frequent discussions about employee performance and job satisfaction are far more effective than annual performance reviews. Workers tend to appreciate approaches that feel more like career coaching and guidance than evaluations that focus on events long past. Surveys and other performance metrics can be used to gather information, which can fuel these discussions and guide effective changes to improve productivity and culture.

That's why HR professionals and supervisors should have ready access to engagement and performance data year-round. They should be able to access reports and insights for informal check-ins, on-the-go discussions and impromptu brainstorming sessions, allowing them to focus on culture as an integral part of running the business. To encourage more hands-on involvement and better communication with team members, managers should be empowered by tools that allow them to leave the office without leaving behind their data. Using employee engagement software across multiple devices gives them the advantage of mobility.

David Bator is passionate about programs that move people. David leads TemboStatus and works with growing companies everyday to help them bridge the gap between assessing employee engagement and addressing it with action. For the last 15 years David has worked with the leadership of companies large and small to build programs that leverage strategy and technology to deliver extraordinary value for employees, customers and partners.