Understanding what’s impacting employee engagement in your organisation can be a difficult task—especially as the world of work continues to change in the face of adversity.
But employee engagement is critical to organisational success. So we need to understand how engaged our people are, what they’re missing and how we can do better.
As one of Hive’s People Scientists, I work closely with customers of all different sizes and industries. I see the similarities and differences organisations everywhere are experiencing first-hand when it comes to employee engagement and there are several themes that come through no matter the organisation, industry or sector.
So today I’m going to share the top five key themes we see that are impacting engagement right now, why that is and share some of our action planning advice to help you overcome the most common challenges…
1. Employee wellbeing
Employee wellbeing has always gone hand-in-hand with employee engagement; happy and healthy employees are more present and engaged with their work, whereas poor wellbeing results in less productivity and disengagement. Both mental and physical wellbeing are key influencers in any positive employee experience, with people expecting more support from their employers than ever before.
One of the key factors influencing employee wellbeing right now is work-life balance. We see it time and time again; if employees are able to maintain a healthy work-life balance it allows them to switch off and rest and recharge after work, which is essential for our mental wellbeing. A lack of work-life balance, on the other hand, will likely cause your people to go and look for it elsewhere!
Actionable advice from People Science: provide the resources needed to thrive
Many employees express the need for the right resources needed to thrive. That might look like proper staffing levels, access to the right tools and equipment and sufficient time to handle work demand so employees don’t feel overwhelmed or overstretched.
💡 Hive use case
Thirteen includes a series of mental-health-related questions in their baseline surveys via Hive to get a sense of how their employees are feeling. When reviewing their results, they get their Mental Health First Aiders to follow up with those who scored below a 7 out of 10 on those mental health questions via Hive Messenger—giving people a confidential channel to open up about a difficult topic and gather insights on how they can better support their people.
2. Learning and development
Investment in your employees and their development helps individuals feel valued—providing people with opportunities to develop their skills and progress their careers ultimately drives employee engagement!
Prioritising learning and development is mutually beneficial. Your people become more engaged, confident and productive, while your organisation benefits from increased productivity, employee retention and organisational success—it’s a win-win situation.
Actionable advice from People Science: improve your 1-2-1s
A good place to start would be encouraging regular 1-2-1s and providing a structure for managers to follow. This could be introducing a structured development pathway, training for performance conversations or check-ins to keep track of their progress.
💡 Hive use case
When Travelodge was seeing a rise in employee turnover, they consulted with Hive’s People Science team on a new surveying approach. Armed with a new employee survey question set designed to target attrition, they were able to uncover the key drivers of employee turnover. One of the key insights was that their development programme wasn’t accessible to everyone—but people really wanted to progress. By listening to their people and changing the eligibility criteria of the programme, they were able to achieve an organisational-best year-on-year decrease in employee turnover.
It’s long been proven in research that leadership massively impacts employee morale, retention and engagement. Confidence and trust in leadership enhance employee engagement, whereas a decline in employees’ perception of their leaders can quickly lead to a drastic drop in engagement levels.
Right now, we’re seeing that people are thriving in their organisations when leaders are supportive, visible and approachable. Leaders are viewed as role models, so their behaviours are crucial. They set the culture from the top-down (intentionally or otherwise!) so they need to demonstrate and practice organisational values—meaning leaders need to practice what they preach.
Actionable advice from People Science: improve connections between leaders and employees
A good leader is someone who is able to motivate and inspire others—to achieve this, leaders need to become more visible, involved and open to building a rapport with employees to gain their trust.
There are plenty of ways to do this. Leaders can aim to have one-on-one check-ins with employees to help build connections, ultimately helping them to understand their people more (like their needs or the challenges they face) and allowing them to more effectively support their teams.
💡 Hive use case
FSCS rebranded Hive Open Door to “Direct Line to Caroline”, allowing their people to confidentially submit their ideas, questions or concerns directly to their CEO, Caroline Rainbird. Caroline was then able to respond to submissions via Hive Messenger, creating a stronger connection with employees and closing the feedback loop.
As always, communication emerged as a key driver of employee engagement. More specifically, people want more two-way communication, not just top-down comms.
Leaders play a key role in making sure essential information is communicated clearly and promptly to keep their people informed. These comms help inspire confidence in leadership and the future direction of the business; sharing wider organisational plans and goals helps people feel involved in the organisation’s mission and vision, boosting engagement and their contributions to those goals.
And it’s not just about hearing from leaders—employees want their voices to be heard too. They want to be able to contribute their thoughts and ideas, as well as express their concerns about their role or the organisation as a whole.
Actionable advice from People Science: include employees in decision making
When organisations provide employees with the space to give their opinions and share their ideas, it helps employees feel valued and more a part of the organisation—facilitating their sense of belonging—and provides a boost in employee engagement.
Make sure your people have the right channels to speak up at any time, on any topic. And remember that not everyone feels comfortable voicing their thoughts, so confidential channels are key to uncovering powerful employee insights.
💡 Hive use case
Henry Boot ran a future of work survey via Hive Surveying to understand what their people wanted from the future of their organisation. One of the key insights to emerge related to their ways of working and the desire to have better work-life balance. Thanks to those results, they implemented a new agile working framework that allowed their people to work flexibly in ways that suit them—improving their employee experience and wellbeing in one go.
Connection is a basic human need and a key component to building an engaged workforce. With the recent shift in the way we work and more people opting to work hybrid or remote, feeling connected at work is more crucial than ever.
It’s no secret that hybrid and remote working can make it hard for employees to feel connected with one another, leaving many craving interaction and collaboration. The lack of connection with others can lead to feelings of isolation and take a toll on employee wellbeing.
Another critical type of connection is employees feeling connected to the organisation’s mission and purpose. When employees feel connected to and are inspired by wider organisational goals, they are more likely to be engaged and go above and beyond in their roles.
Actionable advice from People Science: provide opportunities for interactions
Encouraging social connection should be a key part of any people strategy in today’s working world. This could be anything from providing a space for collaboration to having regular social events to making use of communication channels. Remember that the way people like to interact and collaborate is different from person to person and team to team, so it’s important to take individual differences into account when putting these plans in place.
And when it comes to making sure employees feel connected to the organisation’s mission and goals, I’ll bring this one back around to communication; leaders need to make sure that everyone understands the direction of the organisation and how their role plays a vital part in achieving organisational goals.
💡 Hive use case
When the world was thrust into remote working, Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Europe fast-tracked the launch of their intranet platform to give remote teams a central source of information, with Hive Employee Homepage as part of it. Promoting ‘Your Voice in One Place’—it gives their teams a central location to get in touch with leaders and coworkers, express their views and feedback through surveys and Open Door, and recognise the amazing work everyone does via Hive Fives.
How to truly make sure you’re getting engagement right
To make sure that any new employee engagement strategy will be truly impactful, you need to start by listening to your people and assessing where engagement is at right now.
By measuring engagement and listening to your people’s needs, you’ll be able to uncover what truly drives employee engagement for your organisation—and then you can start implementing new engagement initiatives.
With Hive, organisations of all shapes and sizes are measuring and improving engagement with the support of our employee voice platform and People Science partnership.
From targeted and flexible surveying to always-on listening through Open Door, our occupational psychologists can help you map out a new engagement strategy, ask the right questions and make the most of your data. Just book a chat with us to find out more.
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