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Why is employee engagement is stagnant?

“After much progress since the pandemic, there’s been a worrying backwards step in terms of employee engagement and active listening over the past 12 months”

64 per cent of U.K. HR professionals admit that employee engagement levels at their organisations have either remained stagnant or worsened over the past 12 months, with just 36 per cent saying that employee engagement has improved. These are the findings from a report* which is based on insights from over 400 U.K. HR professionals.

The report reveals that engagement is experiencing a downwards trend with 24 per cent of HR professionals admitting that engagement at their organisations has declined. Twelve months’ ago the figure stood at just 18 per cent. This correlates with the U.K’s cost-of-living crisis as well as a drop in employee listening. In fact, just 17 per cent of organisations are using regular ‘pulse surveys’ to temperature check employee sentiment on a monthly or quarterly basis – down from a third (33 per cent) in 2022.

“After much progress since the pandemic, there’s been a worrying backwards step in terms of employee engagement and active listening over the past 12 months”, says Steven Frost, CEO of employee engagement specialist, WorkBuzz. “Against a backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, organisations are focusing on shorter term and ‘harder’ business outcomes like retention, performance and productivity. Plus, organisations seem to be listening to their employees less frequently. This is counterintuitive of course, because when employees feel listened to, they are more likely to stay in their jobs for longer and be high performing.”

The report advises HR professionals to position employee listening as a way of driving retention and business performance, rather than as a soft engagement initiative. For instance, engagement surveys can delve into whether employees may be considering leaving the organisation and why, helping to understand the root causes of employees’ disengagement so that action plans can be put in place.

Frost says, “The only sustainable way to retain great people that choose to go the extra mile is by creating a thriving culture.  Neglecting the employee voice risks undermining this, especially in a rapidly changing world with evolving employee expectations and a wave of new AI-technology. When times are tough, it’s crucial to spend more time rather than less time listening to your employees as they’ll often provide the answers to your organisation’s toughest business challenges.”

*Workbuzz

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