The pandemic has brought about radical changes to the world of work – and this is set to continue as employees return to the office. However, one thing is clear. Engaging employees will be even more vital if organisations are to retain them and effectively harness their talents.
Given this, what are the trends that HR teams need to act on now to drive greater engagement? To find out, the third annual Tivian employee experience research surveyed both UK employees and managers responsible for HR. The results identified five key themes for the next six months, and beyond:
- Put wellbeing at the heart of engagement
Over the last 18 months mental and physical wellbeing has moved centre stage, with a welcome focus on supporting employees. The efforts of HR teams have delivered results – 57% of employees responding to the Tivian research said their wellbeing was positive, and 81% said it was the same or improved from a year ago. Activities as diverse as yoga sessions, social meetups online and access to wellbeing resources all helped here.
Nevertheless, HR leaders understand that the return to the office, hybrid working, and wider uncertainty mean this focus must continue. 30% of HR respondents listed it as their number one challenge for the next six months, with 88% seeing it as essential/ very important to their organisation’s future success.
Success requires HR to keep listening to employees, through both pulse surveys and specific wellbeing surveys, using the insight to drive tailored programmes and create relevant resources. The focus on wellbeing needs to be very visible, led by senior management, with a range of activities and support available, so that employees can access what they need, when they need it.
- People will drive the recovery – but organisations need to be more flexible
Over 8 in 10 (84%) of HR managers say retaining their talent is essential/ very important to their growth. However, a mismatch is developing between the flexibility that employees want and what organisations are willing to offer. 76% of employees would like some form of hybrid working, yet just 57% of businesses plan to offer this level of flexibility.
This will have a big impact on retention and productivity. 60% of employees said they’ll either leave or be demotivated if they don’t get the flexibility they want. Solving this issue requires a tailored approach built on trust and focused on productivity, not presenteeism. Managers need to be equipped with the skills to manage hybrid teams, ensuring they are listening and creating an engaging experience and working environments for all those they work with.
- Employees want reassurance around health & safety
After being away from the office for so long, leaving the house and commuting to work is daunting for a lot of employees. 49% said they weren’t ready to go back to the office, showing a need for reassurance and understanding. Recognising this, 92% of HR managers said health & safety was an essential/very important challenge for the next six months.
Reassurance starts with regular listening to employees, asking for their opinions before and during the return to the office. What are their concerns and how can they be overcome? How are they changing? HR teams need to communicate clearly around the new processes that are being put in place to ensure health & safety (such as more regular cleaning and different office layouts), and be prepared to spend time with individuals to understand their particular concerns and needs.
- Employee listening is becoming more professional – but isn’t yet fully effective
As lockdowns have continued, HR teams have adapted their listening strategies. They’ve moved from focusing on methods such as WhatsApp and social listening, to embracing the greater insights that regular surveys provide. Use of continuous listening has doubled from 30% to 61% of HR respondents over the last 12 months, with pulse surveys growing from 39% to 57%.
This helps drive a more effective listening and insight strategy, but HR teams also realise they need to do more. 54% said their approach had room for improvement, particularly around taking more consistent action and obtaining feedback more quickly. Plugging these gaps requires a more joined-up, data driven approach, with HR teams ensuring they have the insight and analytics skills to turn listening into effective action, which is then communicated back to staff.
- There needs to be a greater focus on the individual
One of the biggest learnings for HR teams from the pandemic was the need to treat employees as individuals, with 43% of respondents highlighting the importance of taking a tailored approach to engagement.
This must continue moving forward, as all employees look for different things from their work experience. Successful engagement requires new approaches. Managers have to understand the needs of all employees and must use feedback-driven insight to deliver the personalised experience that will ensure retention and productivity.
Moving beyond lockdowns brings new challenges for HR – success will require a focus on listening and feedback to drive insights and engagement for each and every employee.
Read more on the key trends in the Tivian State of EX report here.
Author: Kate Pritchard – Head of Engagement and Leadership, Tivian