Written by Heidi Wadsworth | 10th May 2022
We know that engaged employees are more motivated, willing to go above and beyond and less likely to leave a company – a great combination for success.
But today you might find employees are less engaged than they were before the pandemic. Now people have had time to reflect, they may be rethinking their job or career.
Here’s why employee engagement is more important now than ever before:
Employee retention is challenging
When employees don’t feel challenged at work or supported by their team or employer, they may show signs of disengagement. Over the course of the pandemic, many employees have experienced this and are looking for work elsewhere.
The link between low engagement and increased job moves is no coincidence, a January survey of 1000 UK workers found that almost a third (29%) are considering moving to a new job this year and a recent study by Qualtrics of 13,000 employees found that employee engagement in the UK is currently sitting at just 50%.
It’s no surprise then that 41% of employers have faced increased employee turnover or difficulty with retention over the last six months according to CIPD.
A focus on employee engagement is vital to make sure that you understand what drives or hinders it for your employees – this will be different for every organisation.
To prevent employee burnout
Employee burnout has been described as an epidemic of the past two years. In fact, burnout has sky-rocketed since the pandemic, with 75% of workers considering quitting their jobs for this reason.
Burnout is especially dangerous for managers and employers because it affects your most engaged, highest performing employees. You can’t burn out if you don’t care about your work in the first place.
This has been driven not only by the response to the pandemic and the stress it has placed on us all, but also because of the idea that we should not be ‘living to work’ but also taking time to be with family, friends and doing non-work related activities.
It’s important for managers to look at what they can do to reduce burnout and support and engage employees.
To rebuild relationships
The relationships between line managers and employees changed during the pandemic, with businesses going through so much change, employees may have a tough time relating to their managers, and vice versa. Employees may not feel supported or appreciated, and as a result disengaged with the company, making them more likely to leave.
Relationships between colleagues have suffered too. Spending less time socialising may have had a negative effect on your team’s drive and work ethics, and engagement. Social interaction is strongly linked with engagement – a global Gallup survey of over 15 million employees indicated that those with a “best” work friend are more likely to be engaged in their jobs.
You therefore need to look at how you can rebuild these relationships, especially if your teams are split across different locations.
Has the novelty of hybrid working worn off?
Despite the challenges, many employees have shown resilience and productivity with home working during the pandemic and even now with hybrid working. But research shows that the honeymoon period of home working may be coming to an end. A BBC report found that hybrid working can be exhausting and 80% of managers asked said this set up was draining for their people.
Carrying work back and forth between home and the office may make workers struggle to switch off. It can disrupt their routine and the boundaries between work and home.
There was a feeling that hybrid working would be the best of both worlds, but people may be feeling less positive about it as the year has gone on which could be contributing to low levels of engagement.
Why is motivation important?
It goes without saying that motivation and engagement go hand in hand.
Employees whose motivation is particularly low may show up as working at a slower pace, avoiding tasks or spending time on their phone. But most of all, they are unfocused and aren’t putting any energy into work. This can not only have an effect on company culture but also prevent your business from reaching its targets if employees aren’t productive.
This could be for a number of reasons but may have something to do with changes that happened during the course of the pandemic.
A motivated employee, on the other hand, is enthusiastic, driven and takes pride in their work. They accomplish tasks quickly or on time, take action and want to do a good job.
You may already have gained many useful insights on what motivates your team from the pandemic, but if one thing is clear it’s that most employees value some options for flexibility in how, where and when they work. Factors affecting motivation, engagement and job satisfaction will be different for each individual and flexing your approach accordingly will help to get the best from everyone.
Keep an eye out for our next blog with some helpful advice on how you can engage your people.