9 Employee Engagement Trends for 2023

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The business world is buzzing with the term “employee engagement,” and for a good reason: Simply put, when your employees are engaged, they’re more likely to stay with your company and be productive.

Engagement isn’t just about job satisfaction; it’s about passion and commitment, about taking the company’s mission to heart and driving its success.

Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace report found that companies with highly engaged teams show 23% greater profitability. Yet, only 21% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. That means a staggering 79% are just showing up, but they’re not fully invested in their work.

Companies that understand the power of employee engagement are leading the pack. They are the ones that experience lower turnover rates, higher customer satisfaction scores, and, ultimately, more robust bottom lines.

Let’s explore how they’re doing it with nine trends in employee engagement in 2023.

Trend 1: Support Employee Career Development Programs

The first trend revolves around supporting career growth for your employees.

This means more than just offering promotions or raises; it’s about cultivating an environment where employees can learn, develop, and see a future for themselves within your company.

Employee Career Development Programs in Action

Apex Solutions had been facing a high attrition rate – about 25% annually – among their mid-level management. When conducting exit interviews, they found that a common reason for leaving was a perceived lack of growth opportunities within the company.

Apex implemented a mentorship program to address this issue that paired senior executives with mid-level managers. The aim was to provide these managers with a clear understanding of their career path, the skills needed to advance, and the opportunity to learn from experienced leaders.

Over the next year, Apex’s attrition rate among mid-level management dropped to 15%. Moreover, their annual employee engagement survey revealed a 30% increase in scores related to career growth and development opportunities.

Steps to Implement in Your Business

  1. Identify the Challenges: Conduct interviews or surveys to determine if your employees feel stuck or unclear about their growth in the company.
  2. Develop a Career Growth Initiative: This could be a mentorship program, like Apex’s, or other initiatives, such as training programs, workshops, or career coaching.
  3. Measure the Impact: Use engagement surveys and attrition rates to measure the effectiveness of your initiatives. Make adjustments as necessary based on your findings.

Trend 2: Focus on Employee Wellness

Workplace wellness has moved beyond just offering gym memberships or healthy snacks in the break room. Today, it encompasses physical health, mental well-being, and creating a holistic environment that encourages a healthy work-life balance.

It’s about recognizing that your employees are human beings first and creating a culture that values their overall well-being can lead to happier, healthier, and more engaged employees.

Focus on Employee Wellness in Action

Tech firm Byte Code started noticing a significant dip in productivity, and on digging deeper, they found that employee burnout was a significant issue. Their workforce was constantly stressed, leading to poor mental health outcomes and lower engagement.

The leadership team addressed this by implementing a comprehensive workplace wellness program. This program included flexible work hours, mental health resources, weekly yoga classes, and a policy encouraging employees to disconnect from work after office hours.

In the six months following the implementation of this program, Byte Code saw a 20% reduction in sick leave taken by employees. Additionally, their employee engagement survey showed a 35% increase in scores related to work-life balance and overall job satisfaction.

Steps to Implement in Your Business

  1. Understand Your Employees’ Needs: Surveys or interviews can help identify your employees’ main wellness challenges.
  2. Design a Comprehensive Wellness Program: This could include initiatives that address physical health, mental well-being, and work-life balance.
  3. Communicate and Encourage Participation: Make sure your employees know about the resources available and encourage them to take advantage of these opportunities.
  4. Monitor the Program’s Effectiveness: Keep track of metrics such as absenteeism, productivity, and employee engagement scores to assess the success of your wellness program. Adjust as necessary based on these results.

Trend 3: Create a Culture of Purpose-Driven Work

Employees, particularly younger generations, are seeking more than just a paycheck. They want their work to have meaning, to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

Businesses that can articulate a clear purpose and show employees how their work contributes to this purpose have a distinct advantage regarding engagement.

Purpose-Driven Work in Action

Greenleaf, an eco-friendly product manufacturer, noticed a growing disconnection among its employees. On investigating, they found that employees felt their daily tasks were repetitive and didn’t see how their work contributed to the company’s overall mission.

To tackle this, Greenleaf implemented a “Mission Monday” initiative. Each Monday, they highlighted a different aspect of their mission, showing employees how their work directly contributed to it. They also started an “Impact Wall” where employees could share stories of how their work had positively impacted the environment.

Greenleaf’s employee engagement score rose by 25% six months after implementing this initiative. Also, they saw a 15% increase in productivity, attributed to employees being more invested in their work, knowing it served a higher purpose.

Steps to Implement in Your Business

  1. Articulate Your Mission Clearly: Your employees must understand what your business stands for and how it contributes to society or the industry.
  2. Communicate the Bigger Picture: Regularly share with your employees how their work contributes to the company’s overall mission.
  3. Encourage Employee Stories: Create a platform where employees can share their experiences and stories about how their work is making an impact.
  4. Measure the Impact: Use engagement surveys and productivity metrics to measure the effectiveness of your purpose-driven initiatives. Make adjustments as necessary based on your findings.

Trend 4: Build a People-First Culture

A people-first culture means putting your employees at the heart of your business decisions. It’s about recognizing and valuing your employees as your most important asset and creating an environment where they feel valued, heard, and empowered.

People-First Culture in Action

Orion Technology was facing a decline in employee morale and an increase in turnover rate. In exit interviews, employees expressed feeling undervalued and unheard.

Orion’s leadership responded by shifting to a people-first culture. They instituted open forums for employees to voice their opinions and ideas, increased transparency about company decisions, and implemented a recognition program that celebrated employee contributions.

Within a year, Orion’s turnover rate dropped by 18%. Moreover, their employee engagement scores rose by 30%, significantly increasing the metric related to feeling valued at work.

Steps to Implement in Your Business

  1. Open Communication Channels: Establish forums or platforms where employees can freely express their ideas and feedback.
  2. Increase Transparency: Communicate openly about company decisions, challenges, and successes. This helps employees feel included and important.
  3. Recognize and Value Contributions: Implement a recognition program that acknowledges and rewards your employees’ work.
  4. Measure the Impact: Monitor changes in turnover rates and use engagement surveys to assess the success of your People-First initiatives. Adjust as necessary based on these results.

Trend 5: Encourage Employees’ Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is about helping employees manage their work commitments and personal responsibilities effectively.

As remote work and flexible schedules become more commonplace, businesses have an opportunity to promote better work-life balance.

Recognition and Reward Systems in Action

Cloud Data had a traditional 9-to-5 office setup but noticed a rise in late submissions and declining productivity. Employee feedback revealed stress due to juggling work and personal life responsibilities.

To address this, Cloud Data introduced flexible work hours and remote work options. They also implemented a “no-emails-after-hours” policy to respect personal time.

A year after these changes, Cloud Data saw a 40% decrease in late submissions and a 20% increase in overall productivity. Their annual employee satisfaction survey also revealed a 35% increase in scores related to work-life balance.

Steps to Implement in Your Business

  1. Assess Your Current Policies: Understand how your current work policies may affect your employees’ work-life balance.
  2. Introduce Flexibility: Where possible, offer flexible work hours and remote work options.
  3. Respect Personal Time: Implement policies like “no-emails-after-hours” to help employees separate work from personal life.
  4. Measure the Impact: Track productivity metrics and use employee satisfaction surveys to measure the success of your work-life balance initiatives. Adjust as necessary based on these results.

Trend 6: Base Employee Evaluations on Results, Not Time Spent on Task

The traditional model of evaluating employees based on their work hours is gradually being replaced by a more outcome-focused approach.

This trend, known as Results-Based Work Environment (RBWE), focuses on the value and quality of the work delivered, not the time spent on a task or in the office.

Engagement Analytics in Action

Creative Edge Marketing was struggling with long work hours and declining employee morale. Despite the long hours, the quality of work was not improving.

Creative Edge decided to move to a results-based evaluation system. They set clear, measurable goals for each project and let employees manage their time to achieve them. They stopped tracking hours and started evaluating based on the quality of work and meeting project milestones.

In the year following this change, Creative Edge saw a 25% increase in project completion rates and a 30% improvement in the quality of work (as evaluated by client feedback). Employee engagement scores also increased by 20%, particularly in job satisfaction and stress levels metrics.

Steps to Implement in Your Business

  1. Set Clear, Measurable Goals: Define what success looks like for each task or project.
  2. Shift to Results-Based Evaluations: Focus on the quality of work and achievement of goals rather than hours worked.
  3. Promote Autonomy: Allow employees to manage their own time and workflow to achieve the set goals.
  4. Measure the Impact: Monitor project completion rates, quality of work, and employee engagement scores to evaluate the success of the RBWE approach. Adjust as necessary based on these results.

Trend 7: Fewer Office Politics

Minimizing office politics is a growing trend among organizations that value a healthy and engaging work environment. Office politics, which often manifest as power plays, favoritism, or gossip, can harm employee morale and engagement.

Companies are now taking active steps to foster transparency, fairness, and collaborative culture, thereby reducing office politics.

Enhanced Communication and Collaboration in Action

MedTech Innovations were experiencing a decline in employee engagement and, upon investigation, found that office politics were to blame. Employees felt that promotions and rewards were unfairly distributed, leading to feelings of resentment and disengagement.

MedTech decided to tackle this by promoting a culture of transparency and fairness. They introduced a clear, merit-based reward and promotion system and created open forums where employees could voice their concerns without fear of retribution.

Within a year, MedTech saw a 30% improvement in employee engagement scores. The transparency of the reward system also led to an 80% increase in the number of employees feeling that promotions and rewards were fairly distributed.

Steps to Implement in Your Business

  1. Promote Transparency: Make sure your decision-making processes are transparent and understood by all employees.
  2. Establish a Merit-Based Reward System: Ensure promotions and rewards are based on clear, measurable criteria.
  3. Foster a Team-Oriented Culture: Promote teamwork and cooperation through team-building activities, collaborative projects, or cross-department initiatives.
  4. Create Safe Spaces for Feedback: Encourage open communication and provide platforms where employees can voice concerns.
  5. Train Managers: Train managers in effective communication and collaboration techniques. Their behavior and communication style can significantly influence their team’s engagement levels.
  6. Measure the Impact: Use engagement surveys to track changes in employee perceptions of fairness and overall engagement. Adjust your strategies based on these findings.

Trend 8: Emphasize Social Responsibility and Purpose

More than ever, employees are looking to work for companies that align with their values and positively impact society. Businesses that demonstrate social responsibility and effectively communicate their purpose will likely see higher engagement levels. This trend is particularly noticeable among younger generations, who often prioritize purpose and social impact in their career choices.

Social Responsibility and Purpose in Action

Eco Wear, a clothing manufacturer, noticed a growing lack of engagement among their younger employees. Surveys revealed that these employees felt disconnected from the company’s purpose and wanted to see a stronger commitment to social responsibility.

In response, Eco Wear launched a campaign to use only sustainably sourced materials in their products. They also started a community outreach program involving employees in local environmental initiatives.

One year after implementing these changes, Eco Wear saw a 40% increase in engagement scores among their younger employees. Their overall retention rate also improved by 20%, with employees expressing higher job satisfaction due to the company’s commitment to social responsibility.

Steps to Implement in Your Business

  1. Identify Your Social Purpose: Determine how your business can positively impact society.
  2. Implement Social Responsibility Initiatives: These could include sustainability efforts, community outreach, or charity partnerships.
  3. Involve Employees in Your Initiatives: Give your employees opportunities to contribute to these initiatives.
  4. Measure the Impact: Track changes in employee engagement and retention rates to evaluate the success of your social responsibility initiatives. Adjust as necessary based on these results.

Trend 9: Recognition and Rewards Catered to Employee Preferences

Employee recognition and rewards play a critical role in driving engagement. However, what motivates one employee might not motivate another.

Recognizing this, businesses are tailoring their recognition and rewards programs to individual employee preferences.

Recognition and Rewards Catered to Employee Preferences in Action

E-commerce company Shopper Hub had a one-size-fits-all annual bonus system but noticed it wasn’t driving engagement or performance as expected. Employee feedback indicated that they didn’t find the bonuses motivating, as they didn’t cater to their individual preferences or immediate achievements.

In response, Shopper Hub introduced a flexible rewards system. Employees could earn points for meeting targets and demonstrating company values, which could be redeemed for rewards of their choosing, ranging from extra vacation days to tech gadgets.

Within a year of implementing this system, Shopper Hub saw a 20% increase in performance metrics and a 30% rise in employee engagement scores. Their employee feedback also indicated higher satisfaction with the new, personalized reward system.

Steps to Implement in Your Business

  1. Understand Your Employees’ Preferences: Conduct surveys or one-on-one discussions to learn what rewards your employees value most.
  2. Develop a Flexible Rewards System: Create a system where employees can earn points and choose rewards based on their preferences.
  3. Promote and Encourage the System: Regularly remind employees about the rewards system and celebrate their achievements.
  4. Measure the Impact: Keep track of changes in performance metrics and employee engagement scores to evaluate the success of your personalized rewards program. Adjust as necessary based on these results.

Final Thoughts

The road to better employee engagement starts by recognizing these trends and their relevance to your business context. Each of these trends offers a unique opportunity to improve the work experience for your employees, leading to increased satisfaction, productivity, and loyalty.

Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s about taking small, consistent steps in the right direction. Start by identifying one or two trends that resonate most with your current business challenges. Develop a plan, implement it, measure the results, and adjust as necessary.

Need a little help along the way? Work with a business coach. Lori can help you find the current issues in employee engagement and roll out new, transformative initiatives.