Research Reveals What is Set to Drive Employee Engagement in 2024

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As we sail headlong into 2024, it’s an ideal time to reflect. As businesses, we’re continually evolving, adapting and improving. Our technology and software is allowing us to perform remarkable feats and optimise processes in ways we never before imagined.

We’ve learned about the importance of physical environment and how it can have a notable impact on performance and productivity. And, of course, our understanding of employee engagement is growing more refined as the years go by.

We understand its importance and value, and forward-thinking companies are continually striving to boost levels of employee engagement throughout their organisations.

Though employee engagement in itself is a dynamic field, one reality remains consistent — what drives employee engagement might look remarkably different from one year to the next.

What top performers are looking for in a workplace and from a leader will vary depending on a number of factors, including the political and economic climate.

Our world today looks markedly different from the working world of 2014 and business leaders must respond accordingly. Those who fail to act will inevitably suffer as a consequence — Gallup has revealed that only 32% of employees are engaged, meaning they are, on some level, checking out of work and failing to live up to their potential.

How can you get the best out of your employees in 2024? How can you boost employee engagement levels and keep employees motivated, interested and eager to progress within your organisation?

To find out what employees are motivated by and what they’re looking for in 2024, People Insight has carried out employee engagement research, looking into thousands of employee survey database responses and broader research. Below are the five leading drivers of employee engagement in modern workplaces.

5 Leading Drivers of Employee Engagement

Research Reveals What is Set to Drive Employee Engagement

1. Flexible and Hybrid Employees Are Looking for Equal Support

We’ve known for a while that flexible working, including hybrid and remote working options, boost employee engagement levels.

It’s fantastic that more and more organisations are opening up to various forms of working, knowing that the results are happier, more productive and more dedicated employees. However, simply pressing ahead with hybrid working options isn’t enough — a great deal of thought and consideration needs to be put into how such avenues will work.

Hybrid and other forms of flexible working will continue to be very attractive to candidates throughout 2024, but one way to truly boost engagement within your company is to examine your processes and practices.

Do you have the right tools and procedures in place to accommodate and include your hybrid employees? It’s a serious issue, especially when you consider that many hybrid employees have reported feeling disconnected from their colleagues, while others feel overworked.

The reality is, when done badly, hybrid and remote working can have a negative impact on engagement and mental health. But rather than throwing the baby away with the bathwater, consider what you can improve and what you can introduce.

Have regular one-on-ones with your hybrid employees — and turn the camera on for more of a personal connection. Applaud and share hybrid employees’ accomplishments and achievements.

And be sure to keep your hybrid employees in mind when considering upskilling and growth opportunities. Employees working from home are regularly ignored in terms of promotions, pay rises and development — a surefire way to see a drop in employee engagement levels.

2. Financial Wellbeing is Paramount in Light of the Cost-of-Living Crisis 

Employees are facing a number of financially-related concerns. Although inflation is falling, the cost of living crisis continues, and it’s likely we’ll have to wait until at least 2027 to return to the pre-cost of living crisis peak. Unsurprisingly, this is all taking a toll on employees and their mental health.

According to a survey carried out by the Mental Health Foundation in November 2023, nearly one-third of adults feel anxious due to their financial situation. In fact, three out of five Brits say that the cost of living crisis is negatively impacting their mental health. One major driver of employee engagement in 2024 will be an employer’s ability to provide assistance and support in this area.

While raises and promotions may not be feasible at the moment (after all, companies are struggling too), there are other ways that companies can help employees cut costs while promoting good mental health — for example, through salary sacrifice schemes, employee discount schemes and free therapy.

Some companies even offer personalised financial support designed to help employees regain control over their finances. Sometimes, improving financial literacy and providing coaching in this area can go a long way to alleviating worry, and it can make all the difference in terms of employee engagement.

3. Targeted Support is Required for Women in the Workplace 

When discussing women in the workplace, talk often centres around the issue of pay inequality. While this is an important topic for discussion, there is far more to consider and unravel.

Increasingly, women are demanding more from work — and they’re leaving their companies in significant numbers in order to get it. Conversely, companies who offer women targeted support stand to see employee engagement levels skyrocket.

Companies need to address gender-equal working cultures and consider whether they’re doing enough. The reality is, women face different struggles to men. It all begins with starting a conversation and ensuring the women in your workplace feel heard and understood.

After all, according to one 2023 study of over 1,200 women of different ages, backgrounds and ethnicities, 84% said that the most important ingredient they need to thrive at work is a good relationship with their manager.

Be aware that while flexible working hours are great for some women with family obligations, there are other issues to consider. Some companies are doing all they can to support women during the menopause, some provide mental health support after big life changes such as childbirth and others are making their offices more female-friendly by providing breastfeeding spaces or free hygiene products.

To get a good idea as to what female employees are looking for and need within your business, you might consider an employee survey so you can base your efforts on solid data.

4. A Clear Sense of Ownership and Accountability is a Huge Determining Factor of Employee Engagement

The majority of employees today are driven by ownership, results and collaboration. They want to receive the training they need to do their jobs well, they want to build their skills and they want regular feedback. This is all great news, because it shows that employees genuinely care about their work and their contributions.

They want to know that their work matters and they want to play a key role to a business’ success. Despite the stereotypes, the younger generations want to be held accountable — and building a culture of accountability goes a long way to boosting motivation and productivity.

Be careful not to mistake a culture of accountability for a blame culture — one is empowering and beneficial, the other is toxic. When mistakes happen they should be highlighted, but in a productive way that includes avenues for further training and development.

When employees own up to errors, they should be supported and guided, rather than berated. This sense of accountability is a major driver of engagement in 2024, but to build this culture of accountability, leaders must practice what they preach by demonstrating that it’s okay to make mistakes.

In line with the principles of a growth mindset, employees should be encouraged to see setbacks as a learning opportunity, which will further build psychological safety into the workplace.

5. Employee Wellbeing Initiatives Will Continue to Drive Employee Engagement in a Significant Way

It’s become clear that companies that invest in wellbeing initiatives regularly see higher levels of engagement. As we move into 2024, such initiatives will become all the more popular, ultimately becoming a huge driver of employee engagement, morale and motivation.

Forward-thinking businesses are offering a range of programmes and perks, including mental wellbeing support, physical wellbeing subsidies, financial wellbeing initiatives and community wellbeing perks.

By offering such measures, your company is demonstrating its commitment to its people, their health and their mental and emotional wellbeing. It’s offerings like this that might tempt top performers to you, rather than a competitor and it’s exactly these types of benefits that will keep employees at your company for the long run.

The drivers mentioned above are, according to our own extensive research, set to be the major determining factors of employee engagement in 2024. However, employee engagement is not a stagnant field, nor will the drivers look the same for each and every organisation.

The best and most effective way to keep employees engaged and motivated is to talk to them — find out what matters most to them, what they need and what keeps them productive. Let your employees’ voices be heard and they’ll repay you with hard work and dedication.

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Author Bio: Kate Pritchard, Head of Consulting at People Insight and qualified leadership coach, is an employee experience expert and leadership coach with over 20 years’ experience in the field of employee research. People Insight exists to help organisations create workplaces where employees can thrive.

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