Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of burnout, and millions leaving work, employee engagement has been a prevalent topic within businesses.
In an attempt to get a clearer picture of the efforts of businesses to move to hybrid and remote systems of work, insight group XpertHR has spoken to 220 organizations that represent 460,000 employees.
The research found that 40% of organizations said that their current level of employee engagement was only ‘reasonable’, while 9% described their level of engagement as poor.
Additionally, 35% of respondents identified remote working as one of the main challenges for their organization in maintaining or improving engagement.
The reasoning behind this lack of engagement varied between businesses and included a loss of cohesion among teams, diminished social interaction, and staff disconnecting from work.
Evidently, there are a variety of concerns for those surveyed, and after looking at the data uncovered, XpertHR offered strategies that could help employers retain and engage staff.
How to engage employees
On the back of the survey, XpertHR identified three areas for businesses to focus on, and the first is effective communication.
18% of HR professionals identified communication as one of the most effective initiatives for engaging employees. On top of that,11% said the most effective initiative was promoting a culture of listening to employees to facilitate authentic dialogue.
Remote working doesn’t kill frequent dialogue; businesses can rely on internal surveys, catch ups on regular calls and do virtual events. Of course, in a hybrid model, meeting face-to-face when possible can also help establish team relationships and promote a positive working culture.
The report also noted that companies need to focus on wellbeing.12% of correspondents attribute their better employee engagement to an improved rewards and benefits package.
In terms of implementing a policy, the likes of Aviva and CharlieHR have told UNLEASH that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Instead, companies need to allow flexible work, access to wellbeing initiatives and support, and time to switch off on an adjustable basis that suits each employee.
Finally, the report recommends that companies prepare for a return to the office.
Although returning to offices has been difficult for even the biggest companies as they juggle legal compliance and worker safety, 10% of those surveyed said increasing employee involvement in decision-making was an effective initiative for boosting engagement and pointed to the office as the best place to get this kind of interaction.
36% of those surveyed added that introducing a hybrid working model was the most effective initiative in improving employee engagement.
Looking at these findings, Noelle Murphy, senior HR practice editor at XpertHR, commented: “The call to return to remote working is not a welcome one for many organizations, ending for somewhat was the highly sought-after return to the office, to team building, collaboration and some normality, albeit something of a new normal.
“However, HR can play a key role in ensuring employee engagement sits at the center of the business response to remote working. Doing so offers an opportunity for businesses that did not fare well during previous calls to work from home where possible to recoup and improve their employee engagement levels.”
Murphy added: “As our survey shows, this improvement hinges on putting employee wellbeing at the heart of its approach, through facilitating authentic and collaborative conversations with all employees.
“But HR can’t do this alone – all people managers and senior leaders need to recognize the business need to take employee engagement seriously and commit to providing the time, resources, and space for all to deliver initiatives.
“Employers need to do all they can to retain key employees in an increasingly tight labor market – and good levels of employee engagement are without doubt central to this.”