The topic of employees feeling a connection to their organizations is deeply rooted in their emotions. This emotional connection makes employees take ownership of their work and motivates them to perform at their best. While the reasons why employees feel a connection to their workplace may differ (from camaraderie between co-workers to the feeling of contributing towards a noble goal), the effect is the same: The organization and the employee grow at a faster pace than their contemporaries.
But having the employees feel a connection with their organization is not a one-time activity; it needs active deliberation from the managers, leaders, and the HR team. The influx of new generations into the workforce brings new sets of trends and practices for companies to adopt, and organizations need to constantly improve the ways they engage with their employees. This article sheds light on a few of these.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement can be defined as a workplace approach that allows all members of an organization to give their best each day. Well-engaged employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values. They are motivated to contribute to the success of their organization, which also provides them with a feeling of pride.
The basic tenets of employee engagement are trust, integrity, and two way communication between an organization and its members. Engaged employees increase the chances of success by contributing to organizational and individual performance, productivity, and well-being.
Why is employee engagement so important?
Employee engagement helps create a better work culture, reduces staff turnover, increases productivity, builds better relationships at work, and impacts company profits. At the same time, employees who are engaged at their workplace are happier.
From an employee’s point of view, being engaged on the job plays an important role in their overall satisfaction and experience. They become more energized and efficient and contribute more beyond what is expected of them. From an organizational point of view, employee engagement matters due to the impact it has on business operations and profitability – but it’s important in helping leaders understand employee needs, identify how morale can be improved, and make the work environment better accordingly. When employees know that management is concerned about their growth as a whole person and not just an employee, their efforts are more productive, while their demeanor is more satisfied and fulfilled.
10 Latest Employee Engagement Trends for 2022
Here is a list of 10 Employee engagement trends that are most likely to define employee engagement in 2022. These employee engagement trends point towards a happier, productive, and engaged workforce while keeping high returns for organizations. As expressed previously, organizations can do well by focusing on the well-being of their employees and customers, and the trends reflect the sentiment.
1. People-first culture
The culture of an organization determines how it fares in the long term, and it evolves when leaders nourish it. Employee engagement trends come and go, but the focus on people is essential for organizations. It is truer now because the era of people working for paychecks and not really thinking about the impact of their organization is long gone. People in the workforce today want their organization to stand for something and be a positive influence on the community. Having a well-defined vision, mission and values is the first step toward achieving that. With proper nurturing, a people-first culture can bloom and make every individual employee feel cared for and respected by the peers in the organization at all levels.
2. Work-life balance
In this era of instant messages and any-time access, it is hard for employees to switch off and focus on other aspects of life. While it was seen as something that the employee should manage, the view has changed quite a bit over the last few decades. Nowadays, successful organizations actively try to help their employees maintain a good work-life balance. Embracing flexibility where employees are given a chance to choose and alter their schedules is going to catch attention in 2022. As most job functions don’t require the physical presence of employees, it makes sense for them to work from wherever they are. Ensuring work-life balance is a highly effective employee engagement trend, as the results of numerous surveys present a positive effect. A survey by FlexJob shows that 75% of employees experience greater productivity at home, as they encounter fewer distractions (74%) and reduced commute stress (71%).
3.Cloud to the fore
As the working environment keeps getting fragmented, cloud technologies that help employee experience to be more seamless will gain higher interest. With tools that simplify employee recognition and rewards, benefits, performance management, and more, teams can deliver quicker and better results. Cloud can be the backbone that supports the tools necessary to keep up with employee engagement trends.
4. Embracing AI and ML
Employee engagement tools at the disposal of HR personnel have become efficient and sophisticated, thanks to AI and ML. Organizations that have used AI and ML in various work functions receive a good return on their investment, as HR leaders can make quick decisions based on data, analytics, and logic. These new processes can devour through the largest employee engagement databases and gather insights that help managers understand what drives productivity in their teams.
5. Enabling HR to be human first
The amount of paperwork that HR professionals have to manage is mind-boggling. The gravity of the situation has reduced thanks to digital records, but maintaining and managing them can get tedious – and time-consuming. With the advent of efficient AI and ML programs to manage various functions, HR team members can actually take time and add a compassionate touch to employee engagement interactions without worrying about routine work getting backlogged. The workforce demands it, too, as 92 percent of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to have highly engaged employees and elevate the employee experience.
6. Drive for diversity and inclusion
The push for diversity in the workforce reached a fever pitch a few years back, and rightly so – but it has cooled down to a great extent as organizations have understood the tangible and intangible benefits of having a workforce that represents their target audience (or community) as a whole. A survey by EY shows that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity have a 35 percent advantage in financial returns over the average in their industry.
7. Equality in all matters
The focus on women in the workforce has made successful organizations ensure proper policies are in place to eliminate discrimination, harassment, and other unsavory aspects faced by women or sections of the workforce. Sometimes these issues are so prevalent that they are often considered accepted norms, but the views are changing fast. In order to provide a safe working environment, organizations have to address the injustices meted out in the past. This requires HR to effectively engage employees, where leaders and managers show their support by creating a safer and balanced work environment. This way, organizations can lay the foundation for a growth-oriented culture.
8. Trust, loyalty, respect
Word of mouth has an amplifier in the form of social media – and organizations that are not transparent or engage in activities that push accepted norms will pay heavily. With 41% of job seekers, trust employee reviews more than any other source when considering potential employers. To be rated highly, organizations will look into methods to improve employee engagement and make their lives smooth – like conducting training or organizing one on ones with leaders to give a clear idea about career development opportunities – and providing benefits that ease their personal life. When organizations retain employees for longer periods, loyalty and productivity rise up.
9. Help employees grow
Organizations that have training and development initiatives don’t have employees falling all over the counter to get in the next training session. If anything, the scheduled sessions induce groans – and a good idea goes down the drain. The other option, letting employees decide what they want to learn, wouldn’t have much success either.
The trend is shifting towards using AI and ML tools to identify gaps – and use managerial intuition (gleaned through one-on-ones and other interactions) to ensure a proper L&D strategy is developed. By involving employees to get suggestions and finding the best way of helping them, HR teams can simplify the jobs of managers. Apart from the growth in understanding, the career growth of employees can be charted using specialized tools too. As long as the process is transparent, employees will strive for growth that is visible and consistent.
10. Workplace wellness
Including health and wellness benefits can’t help programs that have low employee engagement – especially in the WFX (work from anywhere) era. In fact, only 14% of companies have identified a culture of health, while 60% of them offer employee health and wellness programs.
The trend will ensure that organizations use tools to ensure employees are availing benefits to help them recover and establish rules that clearly demarcate between the work and personal life of many employees.
How can employees engage in 2022?
Focus on employee health and creating a stress-free work environment is increasing, and organizations are finding ways to ensure many employees have manageable workloads. It makes economic sense, too, as evidenced by a loss of over 70 million working days every year. Employers and managers can help their team members understand and respond timely to stress symptoms like fatigue, sleeplessness, aches, anxiety, etc. When leaders address the issue and create awareness, identifying the factors triggering stress becomes easy and can nudge everyone in the organization to work towards creating a healthier work environment. Tools that measure employee engagement effectiveness can also shed light on the needs that should be taken care of. Even so, many organizations lack employee health initiatives.
A healthier work environment that also challenges employees to be better is what the goal of most job seekers is. An established employee recognition culture also plays an important role. A survey by Randstad shows 43% of job seeker-respondents left their previous job because of limited growth opportunities, and 30% of them cited a lack of challenging work as the reason to look out. While compensation plays an important role, organizations are increasingly trying to balance the monetary aspect with non-tangible benefits like unlimited vacation time and others. Employees can be vocal about their needs and then get their employers to meet them when it makes business sense.