Trends & Recommendations
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Employee engagement is a hot topic these days. “Quiet quitting” and “bare-minimum Mondays” has officially entered the new lexicon and worked their way into daily culture. Such a cultural spotlight one engagement makes sense. So much has changed across workplaces as a result of the pandemic from the rapid increase of distributed work to mass restructurings driven by the subsequent economic downturn—all of which has had a drastic impact on employee engagement.
While some believe workplace engagement is just going through a phase, it’s becoming clear that the pandemic was just a tipping point—a fundamental shift has been brewing for years.
Younger generations are reshaping employee engagement, bringing a fundamentally different perspective of work. Though much of the attention in the media has been on a desire for greater work-life balance, younger employees equally desire to make an impact and bring immense passion and innovation to their work. They seek meaning and purpose in their work, they seek connection. Yet research shows these needs are still not being met.
So, what are the key employee engagement challenges organizations face today, and most importantly, what can you do to maximize engagement?
What Is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement describes to what extent employees are invested in their work and the success of the organization. Organizations go to great lengths to measure and influence engagement given the immense impact it has on an organization’s success.
At its core, employee engagement is a choice that each employee makes every day. From the human perspective, it’s our willingness as people to apply ourselves toward achieving positive outcomes for the organization we work for. It’s visible through our actions and it encompasses our energy, intellect, intent, and behavior. We as individuals decide to what level we are willing to engage.
The key attributes of what highly engaged employees look like include:
1. Emotional Connection
More than just doing the job, engagement necessitates an emotional connection between employees and their work.
Engaged employees are passionate about what they do, they find meaning and purpose in their roles, and genuinely care about the success of the organization. This emotional connection drives their motivation and fuels their commitment to go above and beyond.
2. Intrinsic Motivation and Enthusiasm
Engaged employees see a “why” behind their work. Engagement is characterized by employees with a high level of intrinsic motivation and enthusiasm. Engaged employees are problem solvers who bring their energy and creativity to the workplace. This intrinsic motivation enables them to consistently deliver high-quality work and contribute to the organization’s overall performance.
3. Align to Organizational Goals
They understand and align themselves with the goals and values of the organization, seeing their work as contributing to the larger purpose and mission of the company. This alignment fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility, as employees feel they are integral to achieving organizational success. Because of this, engaged employees actively seek ways to make a meaningful impact and drive positive change within the organization.
Employees want to make an impact. When employees are engaged, they are more likely to go the extra mile, display higher levels of productivity, and demonstrate greater commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. They are impact focused. In turn, their enthusiasm and dedication ripple through the organization, inspiring their peers and positively influencing overall team and company performance.
5. Growth and Development
Engaged employees thrive in environments that support their professional advancement, provide learning opportunities, and encourage personal development. Organizations that invest in their employees’ growth and provide clear paths for career progression foster a sense of loyalty and commitment.
Employees are not lone islands. They seek collaborative work environments where teamwork, trust, and supportive relationships are encouraged to prosper. They actively seek opportunities to collaborate with colleagues, share knowledge, and contribute to a positive and inclusive workplace culture.
The Importance of Engaged Employees
Think about it: engaged employees are the lifeblood of a thriving organization. They go above and beyond their job responsibilities and are committed to the success of the organization. But why is it important? Why should time, money and resources be spent to ensure employees are connected, motivated, and feel supported?
Increased Productivity and Performance
Engaged employees consistently demonstrate higher levels of productivity and performance. Beyond individual performance, engaged employees are the sparkplug for organizational performance.
Enhanced Employee Satisfaction and Retention
Employees experience higher job satisfaction and are more likely to remain with the organization when they’re engaged. This is because they feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their work, leading to higher levels of loyalty and reduced turnover rates.
Improved Customer Experience
Did you know that engaged employees have a direct impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty? Customers notice and respond positively to their enthusiasm and commitment to service. Engaged employees create memorable experiences, build strong customer relationships, and ultimately, drive business growth.
Higher Innovation and Creativity
Engaged employees are also more likely to contribute innovative ideas and solutions to the group because they feel valued. Since they feel empowered to share their insights and take risks, they drive continuous improvement and foster a culture of innovation.
A Stronger Culture
Finally, engaged employees contribute to a positive and inclusive organizational culture. They embody the values and mission of the organization and serve as ambassadors both internally and externally. In doing so, they inspire and motivate their colleagues, creating a ripple effect that permeates the entire organization and attracts top talent.
The Challenges of Employee Engagement
Today’s dynamic work environment does not make employee engagement easy. Building and maintaining high levels of employee engagement is a complex endeavor and the nuances and factors in current work settings provide additional obstacles.
While there are many barriers to high employee engagement, recognizing the challenges that apply to your specific organization is the first step toward implementing strategies and utilizing tools that can address them.
Remote and Hybrid Employees
The rise of remote work has introduced new challenges in fostering employee engagement. When employees work from different locations, there can be a sense of isolation and disconnection from the rest of the team and the organization.
Diversity of Needs
Many organizations operate with diverse and multicultural teams, which can present communication and engagement barriers. Differences in language, cultural norms, and working styles are natural, which require organizations to recognize that engagement needs may be different.
Organizations are constantly changing. That said, the past few years have pushed many organizations into overdrive. There is so much change in motion, that employees become numb to it and confused by what’s behind all of it. It makes engaging in work harder when everything is in constant flux.
Lack of Communication and Feedback
Communication breakdowns and insufficient feedback channels can significantly impact employee engagement. When employees don’t receive regular and constructive feedback, they may feel undervalued or uncertain about their performance.
Limited Recognition and Rewards
A lack of recognition and rewards can contribute to decreased employee engagement. When employees’ efforts and achievements go unnoticed, they may become disengaged and unmotivated.
Employee Engagement Strategies
The good news is engagement is rooted in human behavior, which means it can change. Leaders cannot force employees to engage, but the actions they take do have an immense impact to what extent employees choose to engage.
The following strategies are not a panacea of everything to consider. 100,000 engagement conversations to date on the Imperative platform have provided key insights into employee perspective into what employees need to thrive. Here are our recommendations:
- Develop Managers to Support Teams: Studies show the biggest influencer employee engagement is the direct manager. There is substantial focus on managers driving productivity, yet many managers struggle to develop the foundational trust and rapport with their team members to be a positive influence on employee engagement.
- Keep it Simple and Over Communicate: The root of disengagement for many employees has roots in poor communication. Employees struggle to understand the why behind the constant drumbeat of new strategies and changes that impact them. Leaders need to ensure messaging around key strategies and changes is easy to understand and consistent. Show how the big strategies connect together. Lastly, communicate multiple times in multiple ways. Announcing a big change at a town hall expecting employees to get on board won’t move the needle.
- Listen: Employees will tell you how to best engage them if you really listen. Annual or even quarterly engagement surveys are a great place to start. But by themselves they often only tell part of the story. A good listening system captures employee sentiment in the flow of daily work. Conduct focus groups and capture one-on-one feedback to gather insights and demonstrate that employee input is valued.
- After Listening, Get Curious: There is a well-known saying that to really understand something you need to go three levels down in your questions. That holds true with employee engagement. To understand the real barriers to engagement, leaders need to dig in and segment by employee populations.
- After Getting Curious, Act: Often the barriers to employee engagement will come down to foundational things: lack of trust, lack of connection, lack of perceived opportunity, lack of feeling valued. These are not easy to resolve unless leaders take all that curiosity and develop action plans that address the root of the real problems hindering engagement. Communicate those plans and update employees regularly on progress.
- Celebrate Positive Behavior: Cultivate a positive and inclusive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and supported. Encourage collaboration, foster teamwork, and promote a culture of appreciation and recognition.
- Provide Employee Growth Paths: All employees want to grow. Many want to advance. Both are especially critical for early career and high-potential employees. They expect these and if opportunities do not present themselves, they take their talents elsewhere. Sadly, these are often some of your highest engaged employees and strengthen engagement culture across the organization. Structured and formal career planning programs are becoming increasingly popular, filling a critical need.
How Imperative Helps Improve Employee Engagement
At Imperative, we understand what drives employees to engage and the critical role that engagement serves in organizational growth. Our software platform helps employees connect to their purpose, to their jobs, the organization, and each other through meaningful conversation about work. With hundreds of thousands of users and proven out in many of the world’s biggest brands, we know it works.
- Making Work Personal to Employees: Our platform provides a holistic approach to employee engagement, addressing the diverse needs and preferences of your workforce. From remote employees to on-site teams, our software ensures that everyone feels connected, valued, and engaged.
- Configurable & Flexible: Imperative provides everything you need to get started quickly while being able to tailor fit conversations and personalize actions based on your audience and program goals.
- Actionable Insights and Analytics: Imperative’s employee engagement software goes beyond mere surveys. We provide powerful analytics and actionable insights that help organizations make data-driven decisions. Our platform measures key engagement metrics, allowing you to identify trends, spot areas of improvement, and tailor engagement strategies for maximum impact.
The Imperative Difference
We can’t stress this enough: choosing the right employee engagement software is crucial for making progress on the goals you care about. With our platform, we can help you achieve your goals and guarantee better engagement for everyone:
Comprehensive Employee Lifecycle Approach
Our platform covers the entire employee lifecycle, from onboarding to development and retention. By addressing engagement at each stage, organizations can create a cohesive, consistent, and engaging employee experience.
Flexible and Intuitive User Interface
We understand that a user-friendly interface is essential for widespread adoption. Our software offers a seamless and intuitive user experience, enabling employees and managers to effortlessly navigate and leverage its features.
Integration and Customization Capabilities
Imperative’s platform integrates seamlessly with existing HR systems, such as performance management and learning management systems. Our software is highly customizable, allowing organizations to tailor engagement initiatives to their unique needs and culture.
Create a Better Work Environment with Imperative
Prioritizing employee engagement is vital for organizational success today. With Imperative’s powerful employee engagement platform, you can drive a culture of engagement, empower your workforce, and achieve outstanding business outcomes.
Our holistic solutions, combined with continuous feedback, robust analytics, and employee recognition features, position us as the ideal partner for organizations seeking to boost employee engagement and elevate their workplace culture.
Let Imperative help you unlock the potential of your workforce and create an engaged, motivated, and high-performing team today.
Talk to someone on our team and explore how Imperative can transform your organization’s employee engagement journey.