According to a recent study by Gartner, Inc., a leading research and advisory company, only 31 percent of employees claim to be engaged, enthusiastic, and energised by their work.
These findings were unveiled at the Gartner ReimagineHR Conference, which is currently underway in Orlando from October 23 to October 25, 2023.
Gartner defines employee engagement through three crucial factors:
- Energised Employees
- Purposeful Work
- Empowered Employees
Despite increased investments in employee engagement initiatives by organisations, the research indicates that a substantial majority, almost 70 percent, of employees do not feel as engaged as they should be and lack a meaningful connection to their job.
Keyia Burton, Senior Principal, Advisory in the Gartner HR practice, expressed, “Figuring out how to actually impact employee engagement is a huge priority because it has a significant impact on several key business outcomes.”
A Gartner survey from June 2023, involving nearly 3,500 employees, showed that those who reported being energised and excited about their work were 31 percent more likely to stay with their organisation, 31 percent more likely to go above and beyond in their roles, and contributed 15 percent more to their workplaces.
The survey also unveiled one of the primary issues impeding engagement: employee dissatisfaction with the handling of their feedback. Only one-third of employees believed their organisation would take action based on their feedback, while 46 percent expressed a desire for their organisation to be more responsive to employee feedback.
Burton emphasised, “This perceived lack of action has created barriers that are preventing employees from connecting to and benefiting from engagement initiatives.”
To bridge this “action gap” and boost employee engagement, HR leaders must tackle three main challenges:
Trying to Solve the Wrong Problems
HR departments often rely on engagement surveys to gather employee feedback. However, they frequently misinterpret the feedback and try to address it by offering additional solutions, which may feel like more work for employees. The survey discovered that 40 percent of employees would prefer simplification of complex processes rather than more developmental opportunities. HR should engage in active dialogues with employees to identify and reduce work friction and provide the necessary development opportunities.
Efforts Are Incomplete
Managers play a pivotal role in the employee engagement process. However, Gartner’s research found that managers often lack the knowledge and capability to act on engagement feedback. HR should actively support managers in both planning and executing engagement initiatives, helping them understand engagement data and co-create engagement plans with a clear commitment to action.
Actions Seem Irrelevant to Employees
Approximately 60 percent of employees do not comprehend what their organisations are currently doing to enhance engagement, partly because the term “engagement” itself doesn’t resonate with employees. HR should communicate with employees using a language that focuses on people and experiences rather than the term “engagement.”
Keyia Burton concluded, “When HR takes action to make their engagement initiatives more relevant so that employees understand what their organisation is doing to engage them, employee engagement increases by 49 percent.”
Addressing these challenges effectively will be crucial for organisations looking to create a more engaged, motivated, and enthusiastic workforce in the future. The Gartner ReimagineHR Conference serves as a platform for HR leaders to engage in discussions and explore solutions to overcome these barriers to employee engagement.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.