27.02.2023 Human Resources Employee engagement Workday workplace

Employee engagement remains under pressure in the wake of the pandemic

As the battle to recruit and retain talent continues to rage in many industries, it is more important than ever for organisations to listen to the needs and desires of their employees. According to Workday’s annual Peakon Employee Voice report, employee engagement is indeed highest among organisations that use feedback to make positive changes within the company. Organisations within the software & services and technology sectors seem to be particularly aware of this. Additionally, in general, the perceived workload appears to be increased globally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Workday report, which analyses changes in employee engagement, identifies three focus areas that can help organisations improve their employee engagement: adapting to new work models, retaining talent using employee sentiment analysis and reducing the risk of burnout through ongoing conversations with executives.

Industry trends

According to the employee engagement survey, the software and technology sector continued to solidify their positions at the top, ranking first and second, respectively, out of the 17 sectors analysed. Coming in third was the commercial & business services sector. By contrast, sectors that experienced a decline in overall employee engagement include healthcare, pharmaceuticals, nonprofit and transportation & logistics. These are many of the same sectors that continued to be strained by the pandemic, with many front-line workers unable to take advantage of hybrid work opportunities. It is likely that engagement in these sectors was also impacted by the various health and well-being implications of working through a pandemic.

The importance of the work environment

The influence the work environment has on employee engagement increased between the first and fourth quarters of 2021 in all industries surveyed in Workday Peakon Employee Voice. This is most likely the result of organisations extending flexible working models introduced at the outbreak of the pandemic. Some sectors performed better than others, but there was an upward trend in environment scores overall. However, for many organisations, especially those with relatively large numbers of front-office employees, providing employees with more flexibility in the workplace, working hours and forms of work remains a challenge. Since the pandemic, though, this has become a priority for employees, so organisations will need to find solutions to this in order to retain talent.

A higher perceived workload

Another global change in employee survey responses was an overall decline in workload scores. Those scores measure whether employees feel the amount of work they are responsible for is reasonable, or a cause of stress, which can contribute to higher levels of burnout risk.

The prolonged nature of the pandemic and challenging circumstances faced by many appear to be taking a toll on employee well-being. Employees working from home are often working longer hours, with many struggling to find a good work-life balance. Some sectors, including healthcare, higher education, and nonprofit, face the challenge of balancing employee commitment with overall health and well-being. This is highlighted by the fact that employees in these sectors rank at the top of the table for meaningful work, while also ranking toward the bottom for other engagement drivers such as workload and environment.

Among other things, the Workday Peakon Employee Voice report shows that many organisations will need to focus on reducing the risk of burnout in the coming years, while also creating the conditions for sustainable levels of employee performance in the long term.

“Employee engagement is one of the strongest measures for predicting employee turnover. We believe that listening to employees’ needs is a prerequisite for success and growth. There are important measures employers can take to increase employee engagement. For example, encouraging a culture focused on greater compassion and incentivising managers towards problem solving by stimulating an open dialogue. Organisations can also give employees a sense of working toward a common goal by clearly articulating corporate strategy and showing how new ideas fit into that vision. Initiatives around equality, diversity and inclusion are also crucial to ensuring that every employee feels welcomed and respected. In addition, it is necessary for companies to implement the right technology to achieve these goals.”

Dorien Roes, Country Manager Belux at Workday

Source: Workday