How Employee Engagement Has Changed in 2020

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2020 has changed just about everything, especially employee engagement. With that in mind, we fielded our annual Employee Engagement & Workplace Report this year and uncovered some remarkable insights and trends.

Workplaces have faced the powerful effects of a global pandemic, racial injustice, economic uncertainty, and even political anxieties. Now, those same workplaces are transforming and adapting at breakneck speeds, and we wanted to know just how this year has impacted employee engagement.

By reviewing evidence from our research, we identified four key themes that modern workplaces must embrace to successfully engage their teams:

In addition, we analyzed responses around how organizations have handled COVID-19, remote work trends, and ways leaders can successfully improve engagement.

Now, let’s start with a quick summary of overall employee engagement in 2020.

Employee Engagement in 2020

Notably, we found that individuals who are still employed this year are just as engaged, if not more engaged now as they were last year. Our research in 2019 found that 29% of employees were Highly Engaged, the same percentage as this year. However, the most profound shift occurred in another group.

Employees who were Actively Disengaged actually decreased from 16% in 2019 to 12% this year! Many workers are struggling, as we’ll discuss shortly, but engagement levels are slightly more optimistic than last year. The topic of employee engagement has also been a top priority for most people leaders this year.

When asked about how often their employers measured employee engagement, about a third of respondents indicated monthly or more frequently, a sharp increase from last year. It seems that major events this year have catalyzed the trend of timely employee engagement measurement, forcing leaders to act on that data and break new ground. Moreover, it seems like that strategy is paying off. Despite ongoing challenges including heightened stress levels, moving to remote work, and general unpredictability, most organizations have been able to keep their teams engaged at a similar level to last year.

However, there are still plenty of challenges to face in the coming months, and organizations looking to thrive in the near future will need to act on four key areas.

1. Foster human connections

Throughout our research, a clear theme was the need for human connection. Ironically, we live in the age of social distancing yet need to connect with one another more than ever.

Many organizations are stepping up to the plate when it comes to adopting the right technology and accommodating change in business models. Video chat platforms are seeing usage at all-time highs, and new ways of collaborating are sprouting up almost daily. Nonetheless, it’s uniquely challenging to keep up professional relationships and communicate as effectively as we used to. Evidence from our research strongly indicates the need for leaders to foster human connections.

Chief among these areas is transparency. Keeping employees abreast of what’s happening not only facilitates trust but reduces uncertainty in a time when there’s…well…a great deal of that.

Highly Engaged employees are 2.1 times more likely to work for a transparent organization than Actively Disengaged employees.

But what does a transparent organization look like?

At Bonusly, we’ve built on our Default to Transparency company value to include more frequent and updated methods of communication. We realized a stronger need for leadership to communicate as situations changed rapidly, so we began hosting regular AMAs from leadership, invested in more collaboration technology, and shared processes more widely.

Related to transparency is feedback. Simply put, you can’t have engagement without feedback, including both taking and giving it. Organizations should regularly solicit feedback from their employees, making it easy and safe for individuals to share their thoughts. It also requires leadership to act on that feedback. By listening to feedback, many organizations have not only increased engagement but successfully pivoted business models and discovered new business opportunities.

Credit: Bonusly Blog

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