Employee engagement – your 2023 priority
As 2022 came to an end, employee turnover was up. Whether it’s the impact of the Great Resignation, the haemorrhaging of employees by big tech companies (Twitter, for one), or a post-pandemic shifting of priorities, the job market has seen a surge in both the number of vacant posts and the number of job hunters. In fact, recruitment company Reed predicted 75% of UK employees would be job hunting as 2023 began.
Add to this the continuing media frenzy around so-called ‘quiet quitting’ – a phenomenon that basically translates as workplace disengagement. There are also hints of new buzzwords just around the corner (‘loud quitting’, ‘quiet hiring’…) all of which are really just new labels for old issues (loud quitting is talking about leaving a job in order to invite incentives to stay; quiet hiring is simply an employer rewarding employees who take on extra work or responsibilities).
Then mix in the long-term impact of COVID-19 on employee attitudes. Apart from the abovementioned Great Resignation, the pandemic saw a necessary shift to working from home which has continued in the form of increased hybrid and flexible working arrangements. That brings a fresh challenge for managers of scattered teams whose primary communication is via Zoom, Slack, etc.
All of which points in a single direction: employee dissatisfaction and disengagement. That’s shaping up to be the big challenge for employers this year. In fact, Gallup’s most recent “State of the Global Workplace” research reports just 21% of employees as “engaged”.
Engagement is increasingly critical because engaged employees:
- Don’t resign
- Go the extra mile
- Value the work they do
- Provide a better service / build a better product
By definition, engaged workers don’t ‘quit’, either literally or quietly.
What drives engagement?
The question then, is how can HR and managers engage, re-engage, or otherwise act to encourage employee commitment?
The common drivers of engagement to focus on include:
- Meaningful work – Does it make a difference? Is it valued? Are the values of the organisation attractive to its employees?
- Appropriate and fair compensation – This is baseline; if you’re not offering (in the opinion of the workforce) a reasonable salary and compensation package, other engagement efforts are likely to fail or fall short.
- Opportunities to learn and develop – There’s a big difference between workers who just feel like a cog in the machine and those who feel like they have a future in the organisation.
- Feedback – Do your people know where they stand? Do they feel appreciated for good work? Do they feel supported and motivated to improve their performance when necessary?
- Honesty and transparency – How open is the organisational culture? How open are (senior) managers and leaders? Do workers understand and have a stake in the company direction and performance? Put bluntly, do they care?
- Being listened to – Both as a workforce and as individuals, managers need to understand the employees they manage if they want to engage them. Nobody ‘disengages’ and resigns overnight. There are always signs of dissatisfaction which, if listened to, can often be addressed – to the benefit of both the organisation and the individual employee. Another way to frame this is that managers should take more of a coaching approach, supporting individuals to perform at their best.
- Rewards for extra input/effort – Yes, this is apparently now labelled ‘quiet hiring’ and is being framed as some kind of counter-strategy to ‘quiet quitting’. But really, this is just a good, long-standing practice to encourage engaged employees. If somebody goes above and beyond, show your appreciation, in both word and deed.
- Think about your approach to your long-term employees – If you want employees to stay, you have to accept that they’ll look at workers who’ve been in the organisation 10-20 years and ask themselves, Is that what I want? Is that how I want to be treated?
- Get used to flexible and hybrid working – Look at how you can offer greater flexibility to those that need or want it – It’s not going away; the future is flexible. (This People Management article summarises nicely the latest proposals for changes to flexible working rules in the UK).
None of the above is especially new or ground-breaking. The drivers of engagement have not changed. Basically, a good employer values employees, and employees value being valued. Although, in the wake of the pandemic, employees seem more willing to take action when they don’t feel valued. That throws the onus back on employers.
A suggestion: effectively demonising employees who are fulfilling their employment contracts as ‘quiet quitters’ is not an effective long-term strategy. If management and leadership want workers to do more, they need to do more too. It’s only fair.
Besides, on the topic of employee engagement, the CIPD has said, “terms of employment (for example, …development opportunities) are most closely related to overall job satisfaction and intention to quit.” And feedback gathered by UK-based HR community Culture Amp, employees who stay in the job are 24% more likely to say they had access to the learning and development opportunities they needed.
As we know at Maximum Performance, development opportunities are critical. For more information on how we can hlp you to address your specific organisational and business needs, give us a call on 01582 463460. We’re here to help.