Are employee engagement initiatives working - at all?
Since the onset of the pandemic, the importance of employee engagement has skyrocketed with changing needs among both employees and employers. The hybrid work model, which has become the norm across many large enterprises, requires organisations to adopt tools and practices in line with this evolution.
Numerous HR teams today are trying to find the right way to implement, analyse and act on employee engagement in the hybrid workplace, which will, in turn, help their organisation meet larger business goals.
However, 40% of the organisations say their employee engagement initiatives are failing due to a shortage of people who can devote time to the process, according to a survey by Leena AI, a technology solution transforming the employee experience.
Nearly 27% of organisations said that there was an inherent lack of interest from the leadership towards employee engagement initiatives, and thus, no clear goals were set out for its strategy, it added.
The report, Employee Engagement & Hybrid Workplace Report 2022', sheds light on employee engagement across 250 plus enterprises globally, including in India and the US, and highlights the challenges organisations face in terms of employee engagement like unclear definitions and goals for its strategy, lack of knowledge of which tool to use, lack of resources to devote time to employee engagement, and lack of knowledge of how to measure the ROI of employee engagement.
Present state of employee engagement
As per the survey data, nearly 75% of organisations said that their employees were not engaged in the workplace. Only a small percentage, 3% of respondents, categorised their employees as actively engaged.
Interestingly, 60% of medium-sized enterprises consider employee engagement a business strategy while for more than 60% of small businesses and over 50% of large businesses, employee engagement was an ad hoc initiative and not part of business planning.
How are organisations conducting employee engagement?
Annual surveys are still the norm!
More than 50% of organisations are still conducting and relying on the age-old concept of annual employee engagement surveys, as per the survey.
Nearly 25% of organisations stated that they had implemented quarterly employee engagement surveys.But monthly employee engagement initiatives are still a far-fetched idea with only 8% of respondents following it.
In India and the rest of the world, there is a growing need for an active listening model in the workplace, where shorter and more frequent pulse surveys have become the norm. In a hybrid work model where employees are often interspersed, continuous listening has proven to be paramount, the survey said.
HR: Owner of employee engagement initiatives?
As many as 70% of organisations said that the human resources (HR) team owns employee engagement initiatives, while only 8% of organisations concurred with the involvement of mid-level managers.
While the HR department is indispensable in shaping an organisation’s culture, it alone cannot be held accountable for employee engagement, the survey stressed.
As of now, particularly since remote working has become the norm, employee engagement efforts are siloed in most organisations. It has been observed that organisations wherein CXOs lay the groundwork for creating a more positive work environment tend to witness increased employee productivity.
Role of technology
The increased frequency of employee engagement surveys has also led to the need for advanced tools and technological practices in the workplace.
As per the report, more than 50% of the respondents admitted the usage of simple surveys and feedback forms to gauge employee engagement, while 25% claimed to rely solely on manual methods.
A significant number (30%) of organisations also acknowledged the need for technological tools to discern employees’ wants and needs, i.e., possible areas of improvement in their respective organisations, actions that their workplace could take to promote inclusivity and mental well-being, and so on.
In addition, 25% of organisations also expressed an interest in wanting to understand the trend of engagement scores over a specific period.
Rewards and recognition = Employee engagement?
Rewards and recognition remain one of the most popular and high-impact strategies in the hybrid work setting.
According to the report, almost 50% of the respondents admitted to relying on this method to engage their respective employees.
However, from the total pool of respondents, only 10% saw merit in including employees in primary decision-making processes as an engagement method.
Additionally, only 20% of organisations have implemented a detailed onboarding process designed to align new employees to the organisation’s mission and vision in a hybrid work setting.
Employee engagement to attract talent
According to the survey, organisations of all sizes believe that employees of all levels and segments need to be engaged in order to enjoy a long-term association.
About 51% of IT and software companies use employee engagement to attract talent, followed on close heels at 50% by the media and entertainment industry. About half (50%) of the media and entertainment industry also use employee engagement to create an employer brand.
42% of IT and Software sector organisations also use employee engagement to improve employee experience in a hybrid work model.
Organisations across different industries know what employee engagement can do for them - from getting access to better talent to retaining them. Their goals might be different, but their destination is the same.
“While the pandemic brought about some uncertainties, it also facilitated in shifting our focus to the core of every organisation i.e. its employees. It is interesting to observe whether organisations manage to engage their employees regularly and actively. For a while now, employee engagement has been considered a secondary activity conducted on a need-only basis. However, in the post-pandemic world, employee engagement's importance has skyrocketed with the changing needs of both employers and employees. Today, organisations must implement an effective HR strategy to build a positive work environment and retain valuable talent,” said Adit Jain, co-founder and CEO, Leena AI.
Have employee engagement initiatives helped?
Close to 30% of organisations have witnessed an increase in employee satisfaction as a result of their employee engagement efforts, and nearly 20% of organisations report an improvement in employee productivity, as per the survey.
Furthermore, over 10% of organisations said that the attrition rate in their organisation has gone down as a result of their employee engagement efforts and close to 10% of organisations said that employee absenteeism has decreased.