For many, having flexibility in their work, schedule, and location has become highly valuable. With the freedom to set their own hours, and come and go as personal matters arise, one would think workers would be finding more satisfaction with their work. But the most recent Gallup survey results tell a different story.
Measuring employee engagement
For the second straight year, employee engagement fell, from 36% in 2020 to 34% in 2021 and now 32% in 2022. According to Gallup, key factors contributing to an engaged workforce include:
- Feeling valued by the organization and colleagues
- Having someone who encourages their development
- Opportunities to learn and grow
- Feeling heard and their opinions matter
- Building relationships at work, including a trusted confidant
The fact that employee engagement has decreased despite the increase in flexible, remote, and hybrid work should make employers, recruiters, and career coaches pay attention.
So, what gives? Why aren’t flexibility and the option to work remotely positively impacting employee engagement? Here are a few potential reasons:
Employees are missing the relational part of work.
A core part of work is the relationships forged and built with colleagues and peers. If relationships are strictly virtual, there isn’t the same kind of opportunities for meaningful connection, therefore employee engagement suffers because people feel disenfranchised, isolated, and disconnected.
It’s harder to rally around a common goal.
The ability to work towards a shared vision and common goal is about creative collaboration. That becomes much more difficult when teams aren’t regularly coming together in one place. It can be more difficult to effectively articulate and align around a shared vision and path forward. This lack of clarity impacts overall employee engagement.
There is a lack of separation between home and work.
When professionals work from home, work and home life all happen in the same places, boundaries are blurred, and attention becomes divided. It can also be difficult to shut off at the end of the day and focus on other priorities. This can lead to burnout because it feels like the work never ends, or that neither work nor home is getting the best of you.
Onboarding in a remote environment is hard.
When it comes to starting a new role in a remote environment, onboarding has never been more important, and ironically it has suffered the most during the pandemic. Onboarding allows for clear work expectation setting, and relationship building, as well as provides insights into cultural nuances within the workplace. Without this solid foundation, engagement can be stifled from the start.
The everyday stressors of life more easily distract you from your work.
The pandemic has brought with it a new list of stressors that can feel overwhelming. In an environment where you feel disconnected from your organization and team, the added stress of life can feel like too much to shoulder. There is no release valve from the workload, both at home and at work. And in a remote environment, it can truly feel like no one cares.
When you consider the number of factors impacting work and life today, it is no wonder employees feel more pressure than ever before, and employee engagement is suffering as a result. No single thing creates fulfillment and lasting satisfaction at work. Instead, it’s about the right mix of opportunities and support to thrive at work and home. When employers better understand what employees need from their organization, team, and the work itself, there is an opportunity to find the middle ground. Because at the end of the day, employees simply want to contribute in a meaningful way and feel valued for what they do.