Gartner analysis reveals that several trends are causing workplaces – and employees – to disconnect from each other:
- Turnover will be 20% higher in the foreseeable future
- Up to 81% of employees who can work remotely or in a hybrid scenario will choose to do so
- Only 43% of employees trust their organization’s leaders to act in their best interest
- Employees spend almost 10% of their time opening, closing and switching between different technology applications
“As a result of these factors, employees feel increasingly isolated and less connected to their coworkers,” said Kimberly Shells, director of advisory in the Gartner HR practice. “A July 2022 Gartner survey of more than 3,400 employees found that those who are pulled apart from their organizations, their colleagues and their work are 57% less likely to be high performers and 68% less likely to stay at their organization.”
Gartner has identified three areas that HR leaders need to focus on to build a more human organization:
The fragmentation in today’s workplace is causing stress, exhaustion and burnout among employees. The average employee is working more than nine extra, unpaid, hours of overtime per week. Despite increasing employee burnout, a July 2022 Gartner survey of 243 HR leaders found that 77% believe that high performing employees work longer hours than average employees.
However, Gartner analysis found there is no consistent correlation, across employees, between performance and the number of hours worked.
“Simply put: More hours worked does not equal more results,” said Brent Cassell, vice president of advisory in the Gartner HR practice. “Instead, organizations must rethink how they approach rest – rest should be embedded into the workflow to prevent burnout rather than being used to recover from it.”
Proactive rest encompasses three facets:
- Available: There are a robust set of options for employees to use to rest and stay charged.
- Accessible: Employees are encouraged to take advantage of the tools and resources available and to rest guilt-free.
- Appropriate: Rest tools meet the individual needs of employees.
When rest is available, accessible and effective, employees perform at a level that is 26% higher. Additionally, Gartner’s July 2022 employee survey found that at the average organization, 22% of employees are burnt out; at organizations with proactive rest strategies in place, just 2% of employees are burnt out.
Human-to-human connections boost successful collaboration by 23%, but they are harder to come by now. Historically, employee connections were the by-product of working in the same location every day. The July 2022 Gartner employee survey found that only 31% of employees have human-to-human connections.
Yet, forcing connections among coworkers who work virtually or hybrid doesn’t work – employees who spend more than half of their time collaborating with colleagues are only 4% more connected.
Facilitating successful connections among employees relies upon three factors:
- Choice – Human organizations offer employees the choice to participate in interactions with each other, but they don’t mandate it.
- Structure – Everyone must understand the rules of participation via clear norms.
- Levity – The interactions must be fun for employees.
“When organizations help employees build connections intentionally, their employees are 12 times as likely to feel connected with colleagues,” said Cassell. “Furthermore, their employees are five times more likely to be on a high performing team.”
More than half of the HR leaders Gartner surveyed in July think that their employees are less connected to their organizations now compared to before the pandemic. A separate March 2022 Gartner survey of more than 3,500 employees found that employees are half as likely, now, to be willing to change their behavior to support their organization through changes versus in 2016.
“What this means is that employees are both less loyal to their employer and also less willing to change for them,” said Shells. “One critical strategy to improve loyalty and connection of employees to their organization is to invest in their development.”
The best organizations have expanded the development and growth that they provide to employees beyond role-focused development and to the entire person. Providing opportunities for broader growth requires organizations to be willing to experiment and to allow time for employees to reflect and apply. When employers give their workforce time to grow as human beings, those employees are twice as likely to stay at the organization.
“When organizations strive to be more human, they can overcome the fragmentation that they have been experiencing and are four times more likely to exceed revenue and profit goals,” added Shells.