One of the hottest topics in the internal communications space is employee engagement. Whether looking at past or present data, there are a lot of employee engagement trends to take stock of, especially as we move towards an increasingly digital world and workplace.
Even though employee engagement is something that companies deal with internally, the effects of lower levels transcend the office walls. Its impact on mental health and wellness, work/life balance, and employee advocacy make it something that we can’t stop talking about anytime soon.
If you’re an internal communicator, manager, leader, or HR professional looking to bring more cohesion to your organization through a people-first approach, then keep reading ??
What is Employee Engagement?
There are several definitions for employee engagement, but Forbes has one of the more succinct ones. According to Forbes, employee engagement is “…the emotional commitment one has to the organization and its goals.”
In other words, employee engagement is how attached or invested someone feels to the company they work for, and their role within the organization. Overall, employee engagement is related to higher performance and better business outcomes.
Three key drivers of employee engagement are:
- Committed and trustworthy managers and senior leadership
- Meaningful work in a role
- Positive relationships with co-workers
Employees are people first, and therefore need human support in the places they work. How they are able to relate to others informs how they view their role and its purpose – and that’s no small thing.
Employee engagement is how attached or invested someone feels to the company they work for, and their role within the organization. Overall, employee engagement is related to higher performance and better business outcomes.
General employee engagement trends
We think it’s worth outlining more broad employee engagement trends before we dive more into our three most prominent ones. Before focusing on how to make employees stay, it’s important to understand why they may be looking to leave your organization in the first place.
The top five reasons that people leave their jobs are:
- Insufficient or low pay (44%)
- Career path limitations (43%)
- Work that is no longer challenging (30%)
- Lack of work/life balance (28%)
- Lack of feedback or recognition (27%)
When workers are evaluating companies to join (that’s right – employers are also candidates), they’re looking for companies that put their people first. This can look like:
- A more “human” HR experience during the interview process
- Diversity and inclusion, gender equality, female empowerment
- Workplace wellness and a focus on good mental health
- Challenging work with opportunities for career growth
If you’re not fostering a human approach from the outset when sourcing new talent, your organization will likely be taken out of the running as quickly as it became an option.
How engaged are employees today?
According to Gallup, only 34% of employees in the United States are considered to be “engaged” at work. In contrast, 13% are considered to be “actively disengaged” and the remaining 53% are “not engaged” at work.
- Engaged employee = Involved at work, committed to their role, and enthusiastic about the overall work experience
- Actively disengaged employee = Unhappy with job, let overall unhappiness push them at work, and spread negativity to co-workers at work
The largest cohort in these employee engagement trends (i.e. the not engaged employee) is fine just showing up to work and doing the bare minimum. In general, they’re satisfied and have no cognitive or emotional connection to their role or the workplace itself. Due to their lack of attachment, they’d accept another role for a slight pay raise.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
High levels of employee engagement need to be a top priority for organizations and their leaders. Not only is it good for employees, but it’s also excellent for business.
In fact, organizations that are considered to be the best for employee engagement achieve earnings-per-share growth of about 4x more than their competitors. The numbers show that focusing on employee engagement trends makes good business sense.
Five things to consider for improved employee engagement:
- Offering tangible employee benefits (e.g. unlimited vacation, retirement plans)
- Recognizing employee accomplishments
- Creating a culture around professional and personal development
- Company-wide internal communications
- Planning socials to foster relationships between co-workers
As you can see, employee benefits don’t always have a monetary figure attached. To get things off the ground, some investment from the organization is required; the return is always worth it.
How Non-Monetary Benefits Boost Employee Engagement
With Gen-Z taking up more space in the workforce and Millennials being an interesting cross-section of ages, non-monetary job perks are becoming more important than ever.
When it comes to work, employees are looking for more of an experience than a job. Employees are also looking to make an impact through their role, and expect to see more corporate social responsibility.
The five most popular non-monetary benefits are:
- Flexible work hours and telecommuting
- Paid vacation days
- Opportunities for collaboration
- Stand-up meetings
- Chances to be highly engaged with the customer
How to make changes to organizational culture
As early as the interview stage, allow candidates to meet members of the team. Don’t just limit interactions to employees on their direct team, but also give them time to ask questions of newer and more tenured employees in different departments.
Employees considering a move to your company in today’s job market crave knowing how it feels to work at a company before they sign on the dotted line. It also shows that as an employer, you’re not afraid to be transparent or held accountable.
Top six programs for improving company culture:
- Health and wellness
- Learning and professional development
- Work/life balance
- Play and fun
- Meditation and mindfulness
According to the 2019 LinkedIn Workforce Learning Report, a whopping 94% of employees would stay with a company longer if they invested in their learning and development.
Additionally, 27% of Millennials and Gen-Z employees say that the top reason they leave is a lack of opportunities for learning and growth.
As an employer aware of these employee engagement trends, be open to meeting this need in some fashion. If sending your employees to pricey conferences or in-person classes is not quite in your budget, then opt for looking at other options – like online courses.
How to Focus on Diversity and Inclusion for Employee Engagement
There’s a ton of literature out there on bringing your “best self” or your “full self” to work. However, this is only possible when your organization proves to be a safe, diverse, and inclusive space.
Identity cover is a phenomenon that entails employees hiding the most important parts of themselves at work for fear of negative consequences. This could be anything from not feeling like there is room for you to pray, to feeling pressure to work late instead of picking up your kids.
When your employees don’t know how they’re supposed to feel at work, or what’s expected of them as a part of the organizational culture, they are more likely to look for work elsewhere. As an employer, you must make a conscious effort to know who you have working for you.
Three ways to do this include:
- Sending out employee pulse surveys for more instant feedback
- Starting a focus group with third-party facilitators to avoid inherent biases
- Mandating that managers schedule 1-1 conversations with their team members
Keeping the lines of communication open at the team level will promote a company-wide attitude around direct and transparent communication. If everyone sees that conversations are happening with managers and other leadership, barriers will start to break down.
How to Improve Employee Retention Rates
When employees leave an organization, whether by their own choice or through a business decision to scale back, loss occurs in different areas of the business.
Former employees walk out with a great deal of institutional knowledge, and depending on their relationships with fellow employees, the remaining team may experience lower morale. If they’re distracted by sudden changes to the business, productivity is also going to suffer.
According to a BambooHR study of 1000 employees, 31% (or 310 people) quit within the first six months at a new job. Their top three reasons are:
- Lack of clarity around job expectations
- Less than stellar leadership
- Poor onboarding structure
First impressions matter. From day one, new employees need to feel like you’re doing everything you can as an organization to set them up for success in their role. If they don’t feel supported, they’re not going to trust you, and then they’ll be out the door.
Other noteworthy statistics to remember around employee engagement trends:
- Over 25% of employees are considered to be a high-retention risk, and more than 70% of these individuals believe they’ll have to leave their organization for career growth
- Highly engaged employees are 75% less likely to perform a job search
- 35% of employees said they’d search for a new role if they did not see a raise within their first year at a company
- 44% of employees say they would consider taking a job with a different company for raise of 20% or less
- 41% of employees listed job security as most important reason to stay in company
- 50% of employees in the United States alone believe that if they were let go, they would be employed again within 6 months
- 65% of employees are confident they can find better position that also pays more
- 25% less turnover happens in organizations that support remote work
- Strong management transparency leads to 30% better employee retention
- 46% of HR leaders say employee burnout is responsible for up to 50% of annual workforce turnover
Employee Engagement Trends: Mental Health
According to a study by Gallup, 62% of engaged employees feel work positively affects physical health. Unfortunately, workplace loneliness levels are increasing. Employees feel a lack of camaraderie and support, and therefore less connected to their companies and roles.
When employee morale is low, employees go through a period of disengagement and often start looking for a new job. To combat this, a lot of companies are providing wellness programs to help their employees lower stress levels. These include:
- Stress management classes
- On-site meditation sessions
- Massage chairs
How leadership contributes to job stress
Quite frankly, the leaders that cause the most stress and mental anguish are those that choose to be absent.
Don’t be a leader that leaves your employees without any sense of direction, provides little or no feedback on what they’re doing well and where they can improve, or fails to show concern for others.”
In short, if you want your employees to perform at their best, you also have to be willing to perform your job duties as a leader. Encourage and promote work/life balance, treat your team members fairly, keep an eye on employee engagement levels, and hold yourself accountable to them.
Three statistics to keep in mind as a leader:
- 80% of adults struggling with depression reported some difficulty with work, home, and social activities
- 72% of today’s employees want employers that support mental health and well-being initiatives
- 83% of workers regularly experience stress at work
Employee Engagement Trends: Remote Work
When internal communications professionals are asked, “What trends do you anticipate in employee engagement?” A lot of them respond with “working from home.”
At present, 75% of workers say they are more productive at home. The main reasons they cite are less distractions, lowered commuting stress, and fewer office politics to navigate.
Since the year 2005, Work From Home has increased by 103%. With that figure in mind, having a policy or protocol in place is a must.
To ease into it, there are three things you can do to facilitate remote work:
Be clear about your expectations as a manager.
Although flexibility is one of the biggest factors that makes remote work appealing, setting busy hours can be worthwhile. Essentially, this is time that you can expect a prompt response time or heavy collaboration with your team.
Emphasize meeting presence.
If the team members in the brick and mortar office are having a meeting, there is no reason to exclude remote workers. There is a ton of tech available, like Zoom, that makes it easy for telecommuters to be in the room when issues and ideas are being discussed.
This alleviates feelings of isolation and exclusion for remote workers. It enforces connection with teammates, and also allows remote workers to participate in real-time, rather than getting information retroactively.
Reward your remote workforce.
There may be the misconception that because they don’t have to commute, and don’t even have to get dressed and make themselves presentable for the office, that remote workers aren’t working nearly as hard. However, they’re usually working more hours than their brick and mortar employees in lieu of not having to leave the house.
With this in mind, it’s important to reward your employees and their hard work. If they’re hitting their goals, acknowledging this is a great way to let them know that you’re just as mindful of their work as those who you see in person every day.
At present, 75% of workers say they are more productive at home. The main reasons they cite are less distractions, lowered commuting stress, and fewer office politics to navigate. ”
How to lead a remote workforce
As a leader for a remote workforce, be mindful and empathetic in your leadership approach. Even if they don’t ask for it, your remote team members will require more attention in order to feel immersed in the team.
Remote workers are known to be more productive when they work for an understanding and compassionate leader. It doesn’t take much; presence, integrity, and honour.
Don’t be afraid to hold remote workers accountable. Having standards around performance will only make them feel more included. Make sure that the feedback is flowing; it’s not a nice to have. Whether remote or not, employees that receive little or no feedback end up being highly disengaged.
Slacken up your hold on the clock and be open to flexibility. For remote workers, work/life balance is more of a work/life blend.
If they already don’t have to be at an office between certain hours to accommodate for life’s happenings, there’s no reason that the hours they do work should be fixed. However, as we said earlier, setting busy hours may be ideal.
As long as expectations are set and they’re delivering the outcomes you’re hoping for, you can continue to trust them. If not, then you may have to set some more rigid boundaries.
One of our customers, Exemplis, has an entirely remote sales team. Their internal communications team uses ContactMonkey to send out meaningful content and evaluate employee engagement with their communications.
They’re seeing an average open rate of 70% on weekly communications, and their remote team members feel more involved in the organization.
How to be an effective digital workplace
If you’re thinking about hiring remote workers or allowing your current employees to work from home, you’re already taking a step in the right direction. Not only are you widening your talent pool significantly, but you’re also reducing your overhead costs.
If you offer remote work opportunities, you’re making yourself more attractive to prospective employees. They’ll gain flexibility in their work, save time from not having to commute to a brick and mortar office space, and in some cases, save on child care costs.
The biggest reasons that employees aren’t always keen on remote work are feelings of social isolation and lack of work/family boundaries. Today, the most engaged employees are those that spend less than 20% of their time working remotely.
If you’re always working at home, a place that is representative of everything outside of work, the lines can be blurred. Working in public spaces, like coffee shops and co-working spaces, can help to alleviate this pressure.
The biggest point of hesitation for employers is rooted in having performance suffer if they can’t keep an eye on employees. However, the data shows that 4 in 10 remote workers spend more time working than their colleagues in the office; remote employees work about 46 hours a week.
Looking for a remote work position? Check out Jooble’s postings.
“Employees whose jobs require concentration or significant problem-solving often need focused time to think deeply about the task at hand. In a shared office full of potential interruptions, that can be hard to do.” – Golden
Employee Engagement Trends: Social Media
Well-run social media platforms that exist on behalf of a business can provide great opportunities in public relations, internal communications, external communications, recruiting, and collaboration.
How can social media generate positive employee engagement?
There are quite a few advantages to using social media for business, including improvement on your employee engagement levels.
Social channels open up new means of communications, give employee platforms to discuss ideas and ask questions, give leadership a space to post employee or company news, and make information delivery more interactive for internal communicators.
In short, when there’s a plan and a purpose in place, everybody wins.
Three ways that social media can feed into internal communications are:
- Providing leaders and their team members with a platform to give and receive praise
- Using multiple channels for internal communications (e.g. Slack messages)
- Presenting values and culture in a visual, approachable way
Although the majority of social media platforms are external, it’s definitely worth thinking about how they can work for you internally. Starting internally and then moving externally with your message could be ideal – just think about your goals ?
Does social media reduce employee productivity?
For everyone other than the individual or team responsible for its upkeep, company social media should feel like an accompanying piece. If you’re expecting your employees to be dialed into social media often (always liking and sharing for instance), it’ll throw the completion of daily duties off kilter.
Our advice: Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your employees. If you do, they’ll come to resent the company’s social media and dread every message you send reminding them to share company content.
Here are five ways to encourage employees to be brand advocates on social media:
- Make sure that the social media policy is easy to understand and readily accessible.
- When you ask employees to share content on social media, outline any goals and missions you have.
- Encourage employees to participate, but don’t make it mandatory. In fact, let them know that it’s okay to opt out.
- Allow for open dialogue around the content. Feedback can help improve future social media content.
- Share more third-party content than in-house content to show your awareness and connection to thought leadership in your space.
How an organization can use social media for recruiting
If you’re anything like us, you’re quick to check out a company’s digital footprint in your research phase. If their website looks slick with strong images and purposeful copy, you’re more likely to see what else they have to offer. You may also see what you can find out from their company social pages.
In our organization, our social channels have different uses. We use our LinkedIn company page to share our own content, other third-party content, and gather feedback on hot topics either through surveys or comments.
Our Twitter page is used to engage with others in the internal communications space, participate in industry-related chats, share content, and address customer concerns. We also use it to find new people to follow, and build topical lists.
When it comes to recruiting, however, our Instagram profile is the focal point. In our Stories, we mainly post about team-building activities, office dogs, the music we play, and quotes that motivate us. We also run a #meettheteammonday campaign that focuses on one employee at the start of every week.
If you go about it the right way, your organization’s social media can work to strengthen employer brand.
If you’re off to a late start, define what the company goals for social media are, and get a few select employees on board to encourage others to follow and participate as you build it out.
People want to work for companies that care about them as a human being, and not just what they can do for the business. Employees want to know who they’re working for, and be their authentic selves at work.
If life throws a curveball, they want to know that they can get support through work. When they’re ready for the next steps in their careers, they want to feel like their employer is invested in them.
If you make your people the priority, you will only see greater success in your organization. Your employees value transparency in their internal communications, and there’s no reason why you can’t give them what they want!
Paying attention to these employee engagement trends are a great way to stay ahead of the curve. Create, send, track, and measure internal emails with ContactMonkey – and gather employee feedback in real-time. What are you waiting for?
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