With hybrid work becoming business-as-usual,companies must improve employee engagement in 2022 to stay competitive
The past two years have witnessed a dramatic change in how organizations interacted with their employees. There are a lot of moving parts and there has perhaps never been such a compressed period of significant change – impacting productivity, engagement, and collaboration. And that has meant uncertain ground on which technologists, business leaders and their teams are having to make decisions. Employees want better tools to collaborate, optimized applications, breaking down of silos, and an immersive work environment. Leaders on the other hand feel culture has taken a big hit, and IT security has become a key concern as hybrid work becomes business-as-usual. CEOs have to juggle often conflicting challenges to achieve higher engagement.
Employee recognition is trending down
A Harvard Business School survey found that 81% of employees who have been working from home through the pandemic either don’t want to go back or prefer a hybrid schedule. Nevertheless, remote working is also creating issues around culture, collaboration and having a fallout on engagement. A Quantum Workplace report revealed that employee recognition is trending downward. At the peak of the pandemic, 81% of employees said they knew they would be recognized if they contributed to the organization’s success. However, this percentage dropped to 72% by May of 2021. Employees need to feel appreciated to be satisfied and productive. By creating a workplace culture that celebrates recognition, companies will attract and retain top talent.
Tight labour market to continue
Let’s be candid, employee engagement has been under strain the past two years with different employee groups experiencing the disruptions – and indeed the opportunities – differently. Mass scale resignations and attritions across the world, is holding a mirror to leadership teams, that engagement has been badly hit. According to a new report from Glassdoor, the tight labour market trends will continue into 2022. A key to winning the war for top talent is a renewed focus on company culture and employee engagement. The organizations that succeed will rethink employee engagement and develop an employee-centric work environment.
Working in silos hurt engagement
There are several reasons why different groups of employees are thriving or struggling which in turn in impacting engagement. With employees already going into the pandemic struggling to work across different technology and operational silos, this has in some ways been made worse by the physical silos of more prevalent remote and distributed working, along with the changes in business priorities that have left many employees feeling more atomized and less aligned with their peers than before. Technology isn’t the only answer, but businesses would benefit from investing in the technologies that allow their employees to create new digital workflows and processes to pull teams together.
WFH tools must be optimized
There are several issues employees report as having been made more difficult because of the pandemic. Employees cite increased difficulties focusing on their work, sharing information, and not having the right workflows to be effective. A large segment of the workforce felt that if more of their tools were optimized for working at home or on-the-go then it would have an outsized impact on their individual performance.
The shift to remote working and the fact that collaboration is having to happen in new ways means that privacy, security, and compliance become more thorny issues – employees are being asked to be more agile, collaborative, to create new workflows and generally take more ownership over how their work is designed, yet at the same time, many technology leaders are very concerned about the informational and business risks this poses. A lot of hard thinking will need to be done around this in 2022 to set the right tone going forward.
Employee experience will be immersive & visual
Addressing many of these challenges will need to come increasingly from more immersive, visual, and engaging digital employee experiences. The SaaS era has brought huge improvements, yet not as much in application user experiences as the industry likes to think. More intelligent, intentional, and cognitively engaging experiences are beginning to emerge, which will be critical to support the future of work in 2022 and beyond.
The importance of having a more strategic view around the operational culture part of the employee experience is becoming apparent, such as having a better understanding of what drives or harms employee engagement, the need for more insight into best practices around how teams optimally work, and the criticality of the overall technology experience employees have as distinct from those parts of their experience more focused on compensation, benefits, and career opportunities. 2022 should be a year when companies begin to build that muscle of more intentional thinking about how their individual employees, teams and divisions get their work done.
IT security becomes critical
Several key technology decisions will need to be given more serious thought in 2022. The precarious balance between IT’s security needs for workforce tooling and employees’ user experiences need more careful handling now as employees are being asked to be more agile and collaborative. There is growing demand, but no killer app exists yet for workforce analytics to better understand and seed best practices among teams. Whether or not, the extent and how employees can be empowered with no-code workflow creation technologies will also be more of a topic of serious consideration as businesses look to create more operational agility across their teams.
Trimming the applications in use
One area technology decision-makers will be giving more thought to in 2022 is the number of applications their employees are using. Employees say they use too many applications to get their work done. However, a much bigger proportion of employees say their biggest technology impediments to being productive include challenges such as information being siloed in different applications, applications not integrating with one another, difficulties in collaborating across applications and no one application doing enough of what they need it to. Employees identify this as a key opportunity for more automation: Integrating data from different applications into new workflows is the single most mentioned use case. As technologists respond to the pressures the workforce is under to be both more engaged and operationally agile, they must look more closely at what value they can create for employees by supporting their tools being more integrated.