So much has seemed so wrong for so long. But take heed, HR professionals: Employees say there’s a lot of good about work now!
Even in business news, we devote a lot of editorial space (like this) to negative, discouraging or downright depressing content.
Not today. Not in this space.
Researchers have uncovered great HR news – and we’re happy to spread it and help you use it.
“Despite the challenges of balancing work and home life, we found good news among the chaos,” says Jay Choi EVP and GM of Employee XM at Qualtrics. “Overall, global employee engagement has risen. And leaders are listening more to their people.”
Good news to start. And here’s more of what the Qualtrics 2020 Employee Experience Trends Report found:
Employees are happy at work
Even if employees aren’t on site, they’re happy at work. Engagement went up 13%, and now two-thirds of employees say they’re engaged. Two out of three people in every department, on every team or in every meeting likes – dare we say, love? – their work.
Did employees fall back in love with work at home? Maybe. Or did they find meaning in what they do when they stepped outside of the office walls? That’s probably part of it, too.
But researchers found certain aspects drive engagement more than ever. Here they are – plus tips on how to capitalize on each:
- Belonging. Let employees take the lead on creating and maintaining social, inclusive, diverse and equitable groups that the company supports.
- Adapting to change. The sooner employees know about changes that affect them, the more adaptable they’ll be to making adjustments. Ideally, involve employees at the decision-making level.
- Corporate social responsibility. Engaged employees are proud of their company’s positive impact on society. Give them time to volunteer with causes they’re passionate about, too.
- Career goals. Regularly review employees’ career goals so they can see where they can grow within your organization.
- Learning and development. After a year of learning how to work remotely, many employees want opportunities to learn and develop professionally. Open up more online learning opportunities this year.
Employees want to stay with you
Seventy percent of employees intend to stay with their employer. That loyalty to their boss, company and colleagues is up 19% from two years ago.
It’s as if absence made their hearts grow stronger. Apparently, while employees worked remotely, they became a little more enamored with their employers.
To improve employee loyalty, experts recommend:
- Focus on well-being. Just two-thirds of employees said in the survey they feel a sense of well-being at work. To get it closer to 100%, offer mental well-being benefits and perks, such as access to Yoga and counseling.
- Monitor balance. Employees will stay where their boss and company care. So you want managers to regularly check in with employees – especially if they’re working from home – to see how they’re handling the workload and if they need more resources or less stress.
- Get and act on feedback. Employees need to feel their opinions matter. They’re more likely to stay when they know their employer acts on their feedback, researchers found. This is how critical acting on feedback is: Employees who aren’t asked for feedback are more engaged than employees who are asked, but they never see action.
Employees feel like they belong
An increasing number of companies doubled down on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts (DEI). And an increasing number of employees took notice.
“Across our research before and during the pandemic, we’ve seen two new items emerge as the strongest drivers of employee engagement – a sense of belonging and a sense of pride in the company’s efforts to have a positive impact on the world,” Choi says.
To continue and improve DEI efforts that increase employees’ sense of belonging:
- Start from a place of respect. Many companies build respect into their job requirements as behavioral expectations.
- Give front-line managers the tools to recognize, reward and coach to employees’ strengths, so they experience a higher level of inclusiveness.
- Give employees outlets where they can safely express themselves and raise concerns. Employees need to know they work in a transparent and encouraging environment.
Employees connect with leaders
The biggest reason employees said they felt engaged, loyal and part of something important: Their direct managers. Researchers found a high correlation between manager effectiveness and employees’ positive feelings about their work and the company.
HR pros will want to help front-line managers continue healthy, professional relationships with their employees.
One effective way is through Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Principles of Influence. These are research-proven influencing strategies – and they also happen to build and maintain great working relationships.
HR pros can share these with front-line managers:
- The Principle of Liking. You want to genuinely like other people and communicate it to them to build good relationships.
- The Principle of Reciprocity. Help employees get what they want, instead of what you want in return for something.
- The Principle of Authority. Work to know what’s important to others you work with. Then, work harder to learn more about those things.
- The Principle of Social Proof. Connect with employees by sharing stories of positive experiences you’ve had with others like them.
- The Principle of Consistency. Be as good as your word. It’s OK to expect positive things from employees, but you must live up to your end of expectations.
- The Principle of Scarcity. Help employees recognize a need to change – rather than dictate they change – when it’s in their best interest.