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Business Monday: Employee engagement hits a new low, again – Mary T. O’Sullivan

Employee Engagement Hits a New Low, Again

By Mary T. O’Sullivan, MSOL, contributing writer on business and leadership

“People do want to work; they just want fair wages, inspirational and empathetic leadership, and a strong purpose to which they can connect.” – Culture Partners

The business jargon that has described the work environment for the last few years says it all. “The Great Resignation”, “Quiet Quitting”, “Quiet Cutting”, and even some new ones, “Lazy Girl Job” (with 40 million Tik Tok views), and now “Bare Minimum Mondays” with over three million searches on Tik Tok. No wonder Gallup recently reported engagement has dropped to 30%, that’s 4.8 million fewer employees engaged in their work, the lowest level recorded since 2013.

Multiple studies found that pre-pandemic, employee engagement provided organizations with predictable benefits: higher levels of retention, more productivity, fewer absences, but during the pandemic years, with so many employees set free to work from home or in a hybrid environment, engagement now means “what’s in it for me?” People working in a hybrid or remote schedule enjoy less time commuting, are more productive, have better health, higher morale, fewer sick days, and more autonomy. Also, after months of online meetings, Zoom fatigue began to set in, and people started to dread sitting at a screen all day. After the months and sometimes years of the pandemic dragged on, disengagement became inevitable.

The Great Resignation

The rupture in business routine wore employees down, and seeing colleagues only on a computer screen made people feel more isolated, and therefore less interested in work. That’s when “The Great Resignation” began, along with all the other buzzwords that express employee frustration, and desire to control their own destinies. Once employees were called back to the office, for many, it was too late. They thought about life without the commitment to a full-time boss. Forty million Americans left their jobs, and yet, unemployment remained low, as people sought work elsewhere, where they found meaning, purpose, empathetic employers with values they shared, and were able create deeper meaning in their lives.

For years, organizations placed their highest priorities on customer experience and customer satisfaction. Most large organizations had mastered those challenges. Post pandemic, they needed to add yet another ingredient to keep their businesses thriving. Prospective employees were and still are looking for the “why” and the “how”, and it’s, at this moment, up to organizations to provide those. Leaders, when modeling the organization’s culture, mission, vision, values, and goals, can help improve the lives of its workers, and go beyond engagement and embrace employee experience.

Communication is key

In today’s competitive job market, there needs to be a way to attract the best, most talented employees. It has to start with the recruiting process and continue throughout the employee’s career. Communication is the key. “In its most basic form, employee experience is an employee’s interactions with every aspect of a company, including its people, policies, technology, and culture” (Motivosity). It’s the link between employee and employer and each other, enhanced by recognition and rewards. It’s proper manager development and succession planning, paying attention to people’s ideas, and treating employees like humans with families, pets, medical bills, and a life away from the office. In other words, treating employees like humans instead of “slots” or “heads” to pump out products.

Like it or not, the pandemic made people want a better, more human work experience, and that’s how organizations need to transform today. Employee experience may seem like a new buzzword, but it’s one that can make or break your business.

“A great employee experience enables employees to focus on their most important work. Disruption has become the new norm, and empowering employees to grow and change is crucial for firms looking to be the disruptor, not the disrupted.” – Motivosity

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Connect with Mary:

Read all Mary’s columns here: https://rinewstoday.com/mary-t-osullivan-msol-pcc-shrm-scp/

Mary T. O’Sullivan, Master of Science, Organizational Leadership, International Coaching Federation Professional Certified Coach, Society of Human Resource Management, “Senior Certified Professional. Graduate Certificate in Executive and Professional Career Coaching, University of Texas at Dallas.

Member, Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Honor Society.

Advanced Studies in Education from Montclair University, SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University.

Mary is also a certified Six Sigma Specialist, Contract Specialist, IPT Leader and holds a Certificate in Essentials of Human Resource Management from SHRM.

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