Employee engagement is a critical factor for organizations striving to create a motivated and productive workforce.
This blog post explores eight key employee engagement trends that are set to shape workplaces in the coming year, offering valuable insights and actionable strategies for employers seeking to foster a culture of engagement and maximize the potential of their teams.
From the rise of remote work and flexible schedules to the growing emphasis on employee well-being and development, these trends highlight the evolving dynamics of the modern workplace and the importance of creating an inclusive and fulfilling environment for employees to thrive.
What Drives Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is driven by a multitude of factors that collectively contribute to a sense of fulfillment, motivation, and commitment within the workforce.
At its core, effective leadership plays a pivotal role in fostering engagement, as leaders who inspire trust, provide clear direction, and encourage open communication create an environment where employees feel valued and empowered.
Additionally, opportunities for growth and development, whether through ongoing training, skill enhancement programs, or career advancement prospects, fuel engagement by allowing individuals to realize their full potential and achieve professional goals.
This also goes hand in hand with recognizing and rewarding achievements, both big and small. By acknowledging employees' contributions organizational leaders create a supportive and inclusive workplace culture that prioritizes collaboration, diversity, and work-life balance and fosters a sense of belonging and overall well-being.
Collectively, these factors form the foundation for employee engagement, creating a positive and thriving work environment where employees are motivated, committed, and eager to contribute their best.
Employee Engagement Trends
1. Disengagement will be a major issue
Those who are disengaged can be as unhappy and discontent as those who are looking for work, meaning it’s important to catch disengagement quickly to improve happiness.
One of the ways to find disengagement is through employee surveys. Learn more about the benefits of employee surveys in the video below.
2. Use talent strengths to prevent employee burnout
Research shows 69% of full-time employees feel burn-out at least sometimes. Burnout leads to feelings of exhaustion, negativism, and reduced professional efficacy.
The root causes of burnout are unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workloads, unclear communication from managers, lack of manager support, and unreasonable time constraints.
The most popular employee coping strategies for burnout include:
- Working as quickly as possible
- Thinking about how their work impacts their goals
- Thinking about how their work affects others
- Stopping to think through their situation
Employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager were 70% less likely to experience burnout regularly and those with managers who listen to work-related problems were 62% less likely to experience burnout.
Manager strategies to reduce employee burnout include:
- Listening to team members
- Encouraging teamwork
- Showing opinions matter
- Showing purpose among team members
- Focusing on strength-based development
These are strategies managers should take seriously.
That’s because those who experienced burnout were 50% less likely to approach goals with their manager, 23% more likely to visit the emergency room, 63% more likely to take a sick day, twice as likely to struggle with fulfilling family responsibilities, and 2.6 times as likely to be actively looking for another job.
3. Understand work culture and what it means
Culture is owned by leadership. It should have a company-wide focus that unifies the organization. While engagement is owned by managers. It should have a team focus and meet basic team needs.
To better assess your company environment, consider conducting a culture analysis. The benefits of a culture audit are to bridge the gap between aspirations and reality (i.e., thinking about cultural attributes and indicators).
Activities for a culture audit include a leadership kickoff, artifact review, leadership conversations, employee conversations, culture surveys, discussion of findings, and then a collaborative visioning session.
Additionally, important questions to answer through a culture analysis include:
- How well do our organization's purpose, brand, and culture align?
- How clearly do our organization’s purpose and brand to employees and customers?
- Are employees truly committed to our organization’s culture?
- Does our organization’s culture drive performance?
- Is our organization’s culture consistent across all units?
- Does our organization’s culture influence employees to do what’s best for customers?
- Are there unknown cultural risks inside our organization?
Remember, customers will never love a company until the employees love it first. This makes culture and engagement key. The best culture evolutions are leader-led, strengths-based, provide freedom and focus, and are continually cared for/evolved.
4. Collaborate better with hybrid and remote employees
Remote and hybrid workers feel more productive and will look to leave if you take away their flexibility.
The current state of the U.S. workforce: 3 in 10 people are exclusively remote, 5 in 10 are hybrid, and 2 in 10 are on-site. While the preferred location of the U.S. workforce: 3 in 10 remote, 6 in 10 hybrid, and 1 in 10 on-site.
More specifically, leaders are more on-site/hybrid while individual contributors are more remote.
Benefits of remote and hybrid work positions include reduced burnout, improved retention, and improved productivity. Additionally, onsite workers experience better collaboration but do not experience better communication.
While, concerns about remote and hybrid work positions include decreased collaboration, decreased workplace communication (while untrue based on data), and negative impact on workplace culture (while untrue based on data).
Strategies for managers to better meet remote worker needs include:
- Having a weekly meaningful conversation with each employee (i.e., 5 minutes spent on wellbeing, 10 minutes spent on successes, 5 minutes spend on challenges, and 10 minutes spent on priorities)
- Leading effective meetings (i.e., 5 minutes spend on company communication, 10 minutes spend on team culture (small group breakouts), 10 minutes spent on team collaboration (small group breakout), and 5 minutes spend on team priorities)
- Focusing on engagement (i.e., managers need to focus on engagement and leaders need to do what’s needed to support managers).
5. Use data to improve employee engagement
The new worker wants less communing, flexibility for their family, and higher well-being.
When remote-capable on-site employees are not in their preferred location they will have lower engagement, lower wellbeing, higher burnout, and a higher intent to leave.
It’s important to use data to explain past engagement experiences, assess which engagement needs are being met, think about what was learned from the data, identify barriers/challenges that contributed to the data, and implement an action plan to address engagement gaps.
All of these employee engagement benchmarks can be addressed in an employee survey.
For example, surveys can include agreement statement questions to ask employees such as:
- At work, I am treated with respect.
- My organization cares about my overall wellbeing
- I have received meaningful feedback in the last week.
- My organization always delivers on the promise we make to customers.
Remember you can have high engagement and high burnout (meaning they are not mutually exclusive). And, engagement and wellbeing are synonymous needs among employees.
6. Consider the impact of remote culture shock in the workforce
Even before the pandemic, remote work was slowly becoming more prevalent and workers valued flexibility. After the pandemic, employees want to keep the remote and flexible options.
Employees value remote work because they don’t like the commute, it’s better for their well-being, and it’s better for their families.
Remote work is also beneficial for improving employee retention. In fact, studies show people who work remotely are more engaged, but also more likely to look for another job.
With that being said, it’s important remote employees feel connected to their employer. Without feeling connected to their employer, remote employees will not feel connected to their customers which is crucial.
To improve, managers need to focus on strengths-based cultures and stay in tune with employees regularly (i.e., every manager needs to have one meaningful conversation with each employee once a week).
Additionally, a 100% remote or hybrid workplace is not suitable for every industry. In this case, how to decide where employees should work include 1) individual performance, 2) team collaboration, and 3) impact on customers.
7. Employee turnover is rising
There was an all-time high level of engagement in 2020 among employees, which benefited from leadership communication. Since then, engagement and leadership communication has gone down.
Additionally, manager engagement is going down and interest in leaving companies is increasing. Managers are seeing higher rates of burnout and stress due to unpredictability.
Top reasons for looking for a new job stem from compensation and flexibility:
- Those who are caretakers were more likely to highly value flexibility.
- Consider broader financial responsibilities for each employee.
- Remember, things are happening in the world that impact others every day. Saying something is better than saying nothing.
Therefore, companies need to build mechanisms of predictability to alleviate this issue.
One way to do this is for leaders and managers should focus on ways to provide autonomy to all employees and teams. Building smart autonomy tends to see better outcomes with engagement in the workplace. Always remember the four core elements of communication are trust, stability, passion, and hope.
Additionally, if an employee sees someone like them in leadership, employees are more likely to stay with the organization. This is one of the most important factors of effective DEI initiatives.
8. Pay attention to employee well-being
There are 5 different elements of well-being, which include career, financial, social, physical, and community.
To be thriving, you have to be doing well in most of the areas. That's because employees have different needs.
You need a variety of initiatives for employees to pick from.
For example, understanding employees need different tactics, being open about taking care of themselves, creating opportunities for employees to prioritize their well-being, using recognition to celebrate well-being, mentoring others to help their career growth, and talking to employees to learn about them.
As we conclude our exploration of the eight employee engagement trends shaping workplaces in 2024, it is evident that the landscape of work is undergoing significant transformations.
The future of employee engagement lies in embracing technology to facilitate seamless remote work experiences, fostering a culture of well-being that prioritizes mental and physical health, and leveraging data-driven insights to make informed decisions about engagement strategies.
By staying attuned to these trends and proactively adapting their practices, employers can create thriving workplaces where employees feel valued, empowered, and motivated to bring their best selves to work.
Take the first step towards enhancing employee engagement in your organization. Contact our employee survey company today and unlock the potential of your workforce for a brighter future of productivity and success.
Contact Drive Research to learn more about our employee market research services:
- Message us on our website
- Email us at [email protected]
- Call us at 888-725-DATA
- Text us at 315-303-2040
As a Research Manager, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.
Learn more about Emily, here.