The COVID-19 pandemic has enforced many changes to workplace policies. While many lost their jobs, the ones who still had their jobs were stressed out, juggling multiple responsibilities and uncertainties. The negative impact on employee mental health and overall wellbeing has become one of the major reasons for workplace disengagement.
While many employers have taken adequate measures to ensure employee wellbeing during the pandemic by offering suitable workplace benefits packages, some companies just haven’t gotten to that point yet. Sadly, employees who were looking up to their employers for help were disappointed, and many were planning on quitting their job to find a much better employer who was pro-employee.
Achievers Workforce Institute had conducted a survey on 2,000 employees in early 2021 to study employee engagement and retention, in the post-pandemic scenario. A major section of the respondents (37%) were of the 35 – 44 years age group, followed by 24% of the 25 – 34 years age group. The other age groups made up the remaining respondents.
Here are some key brief insights of the Employee Engagement and Retention survey report.
More than half of the employees are looking for a new job
When questioned if they were planning on looking for a new job in 2021, a huge 52% of the respondents said ‘Yes’. It was a high jump from the 35% in 2019 and 2020. While 35% said the workplace benefits and compensation package was the main reason for them to look for a new job, 25% said they wanted to have a better work-life balance. 16% said lack of recognition was the reason, and 8% wanted to work with a company with better workplace culture.
When questioned about the main reason why they would stay with their current role and employers, 23% chose work-life balance, 21% said recognition at the workplace, and 19% said the corporate benefits package.
These stats are enough reason to prove that offering the right workplace benefits package and supporting employee work-life balance is crucial for recruitment, retention, and employee engagement.
Only one in every five employees were engaged at work
Plenty of studies prove the impact and importance of employee engagement for workplace wellness and business growth. Strong employee engagement is the basis for higher employee retention rates. According to the survey, only 21% of the employees were engaged at their work and were going to stay with the company. While 14% were disengaged in 2020, the numbers rose to 24% in 2021. While 24% in 2021 (35% in 2020) agreed that their employers can do much better at boosting employee engagement, 15% in 2021 (6% in 2020) said they were completely disengaged at work and were actively looking for other opportunities.
Employee engagement is not something that can be achieved by offering a few incentives or free lunches. In addition to suitable rewards, incentives, and workplace benefits packages, employees are expecting more from their employers. Almost 66% of the respondents agreed that workplace culture played a huge role and they would be more engaged if it was improved. Also, 52% said workplace diversity and inclusion was a crucial factor for them to stay engaged at their workplace. While 22% said that lack of professional growth hindered their workplace engagement, 20% said they felt disengaged as their employers were not recognizing or appreciating their efforts.
Employee Recognition Drives Employee Engagement
Many studies have shown that employee recognition and appreciation are directly proportional to their workplace engagement and productivity. The more the employees are recognized for their efforts, the higher their workplace engagement is likely to be. When questioned about how good their employers were at recognizing employee efforts, only 16% said they were recognized frequently by their employers, and 20% felt the underappreciation and lack of recognition from the management were hindering their workplace engagement. While 40% said they were okay with the way their employers recognized their efforts, 69% said their relationship with their managers would improve if they were recognized and appreciated often.
Sadly, 34% of the respondents did not feel valued by their employers, and the Gen Z employee group (43%) was more likely to feel they were undervalued. Also, 80% of the employees felt a workplace culture that appreciates and recognizes employees was very attractive to work for. It was not very surprising when 85% of the respondents said they would be motivated to work harder if recognized and appreciated at the workplace.
Acting on Employee Feedback
While seeking employee feedback is crucial to understand their interests, health and wellbeing needs, and concerns, it is more important for employers to address them accordingly. Although 60% said that their employers sought their feedback about many crucial issues at the workplace, only 16% said that the management actually worked on addressing the issues.
Almost 19% (in 2021) said their employers were horrible at addressing the feedback they had sought from employees and that they never did anything about it. However, it was a considerable improvement from the 23% recorded in 2020. Although only 16% (in 2021) agreed their employers were doing an awesome job at addressing employee feedback, it was an improvement from 9% in 2020. Only 34% felt their employer was ok at implementing actions in line with the employee feedback.
In addition to the above factors, the current remote working scenario has stressed almost 51% of the employees thinking their employers might doubt their productivity. This stress contributed to the burnout of almost 44% of employees, as they have been either starting work earlier on their workdays or working overtime to ensure their employer does not doubt if they are working or not while working remotely.
How Employers Can Boost Workplace Engagement and Retention?
The study also offers some recommendations to the employers, which when followed the right way, can ensure higher workplace engagement and reduce employee turnover rates.
> Implementing the right Corporate Wellness Technology
A comprehensive employee wellbeing and engagement platform incorporated with the right corporate wellness technology can bring together all the required tools, resources, activities, and other modules to ensure high employee engagement. Right from providing suitable educational resources, online interventions, wellness challenges, tracking features, and more – a robust wellness platform must offer it all to boost employee engagement.
> Address the Concerns Sought in Employee Feedback
While many employers are conducting polls and employee pulse surveys to know the workforce interests and concerns, most of them do not address or take any action. This discourages employees from participating in surveys or giving feedback, as they feel nothing will be done for it. Employers can incorporate tools in the wellness platform itself while seeking employee feedback to support the HR admins and managers to take suitable actions. Employers can also provide options for employees to suggest suitable actions to address their concerns, and also provide them with regular insights about the developments.
> Driving Work-Life Balance
A flexible working culture that supports employee work-life balance is a crucial factor for workplace engagement and retention. In addition to their work responsibilities, employees also have personal obligations like child care, elder care, and other extracurricular activities. Sometimes, they may be struggling to handle all their tasks, stressing them out, in turn, impacting their engagement and productivity. Employers must ask employees if they are able to balance their work and personal life. They can ask them what they need or are looking for to have a proper work-life balance. Simple actions like not having to work overtime, shutting down work after working hours and on weekends, taking vacations, and remote working options can go a long way in promoting work-life balance, driving employee engagement and retention.
A Workplace Culture that Drives Employee Recognition
Recognizing employees for their efforts and appreciating them is one of the easiest ways to drive engagement. A workplace culture that supports employee recognition through a robust employee wellness platform can be a good employee engagement strategy. Studies show that monthly employee recognition activities can improve workplace engagement rates well. Just sending ‘Thank You’ cards or other simple peer-to-peer recognition methods are economical ways to drive employee engagement and build a positive workplace culture.
Having a great workplace culture drives employee engagement, workplace wellness, and business growth. Implementing the right employee engagement strategies, including well-designed corporate wellness programs, can help achieve it all.
As employers and HR leaders are facing challenges right now with the current uncertainties, it is high time they prioritized factors that drive employee engagement, retention, and overall satisfaction at their workplace. As employee engagement increases and turnover rates decrease, it reflects better business growth and overall workplace wellness.