31 August 2022

The Future of Work | What does Employee Engagement and Retention Look Like? 

The Great resignation



There’s no denying that the pandemic has had an irreversible impact on our work environment. From mass career changes, resulting in a social phenomenon called The Great Resignation, to redefining the workplace and corporate culture, Human Resources professionals are all asking the same question: How do we retain and engage our talent in this new way of work?  

Why are organizations struggling to retain talent? 

With the pandemic and the move to remote working, and the more recent change to hybrid working, these new work environments exposed poor communication practices and weaker corporate cultures: those that didn’t have established and shared cultural norms, enough focus on employee wellbeing and relationship building, or lacked good communication skills. 

Pre-pandemic work environments 

Previously, in face-to-face work environments, it was a lot easier to build relationships with team members. There were ‘water-cooler’ moments where you could connect with your colleagues and social events where you could build relationships outside of meetings.  

For leaders, there were opportunities to observe your team and recognize emotion in others, read non-verbal cues and potentially avoid conflict by clarifying what you were trying to communicate.  

Post-pandemic work environments 

In hybrid or remote work environments, we have fewer touchpoints than in a face-to-face work environment. Opportunities to connect are more structured, with virtual meetings focused on business outcomes.  

Leaders must be more proactive about building connections with their team and conscious about how they communicate to ensure they’re getting the message across correctly. They also need to ensure they understand what their team is saying and pick up on the very few non-verbal cues that they may be coming across. 

Why are employees looking to leave? 

Organizations that failed, and continue to fail, to communicate their purpose or whose purpose doesn’t align with what is important to their employees, or organizations that aren’t inclusive or have leaders that lack strong interpersonal and soft skills have seen their employees re-evaluate their future with these employers. 

In a recent study by PwC, one in five professionals were found to be planning to switch employers in the coming year, citing job fulfilment, the inability to be their true selves at work, and feelings of not being listened to by their manager as some top reasons to switch. 

In another study by Hinge Research Institute, 53.3% of mid-career employees were found to be considering leaving their current jobs due to poor company culture and frustration with leadership.  

While the pandemic may have brought some organizational communication and cultural flaws to light, it has also provided an opportunity to upskill and re-skill business  leaders to foster more diverse and inclusive work cultures that align with our ever-evolving work environments. It has also provided an opportunity to improve our communication skills, which, if mastered in virtual or hybrid environments, will thrive in face-to-face work environments.

The Future of Work
By rethinking how multicultural teams and individuals are managed, you can plan for a hybrid working future.
The Future of Work
By rethinking how multicultural teams and individuals are managed, you can plan for a hybrid working future.

Ways to improve employee engagement and retention 

An engaged workforce is one that is enthusiastic and committed to their work and their workplace. According to Gallup, 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager and, based on recent studies by Hinge Research Institute, communication and culture clashes with leadership are causing many to reconsider their future with certain organizations. 

Here are some ways to equip your leadership team to improve employee engagement and thus retention in the new way of work: 

1. Listening skills training 

89% of mid-career employees that were considering switching employers, are dissatisfied with their company culture and feel uncomfortable sharing thoughts with leadership.  

Active Listening is the first communication skill that needs to be mastered and the foundation of successful communication. It is also one of the pillars of building rapport with individuals. 

It can promote a feeling of being valued or heard, thus strengthening relationships between colleagues. Furthermore, it can also improve performance, as team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions, and improve productivity as team members feel more energized, focused, and less prone to distractions. 

While 96% of people think they’re good listeners, research shows that most only retain a small portion of what others say. 

A 2021 study of an agency in the UK from consultancy.uk showed that 69% of this agency’s leaders believed that their organization had transitioned to hybrid/remote working smoothly – while only 49% of that same agency’s employees disagreed. Results like this are not uncommon and evident in an environment where people are not listening and supporting each other.  

Equipping your leaders to listen more actively to what’s being said and what’s not being said will aid you in creating a more engaged workforce that is committed to contributing to the success of your organization. 

2. Communication Skills Training 

78% of employees that were considering switching employers, are dissatisfied with their current company culture and don’t feel that their leadership team are transparent enough. Most importantly, 68% don’t have a clear promotional path that has been openly communicated with them.  

Being an effective communicator not only builds great relationships but also minimizes errors and conflict within organizations and improves productivity. 

It can aid leaders in sharing their vision and inspiring their team to come along on the journey and instil confidence in team members as there is a common understanding of what is expected of them. In addition, it also builds trust among employees, leading to increases in productivity, output and morale. 

Equipping your leaders with the skills to communicate more effectively in virtual environments can aid you in keeping your talent engaged and enthusiastic about their work.  

3. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Training 

A diverse team is not the same as having an inclusive team.  

Diversity is defined as the presence of differences within a given setting. This includes gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, communities, sexual orientation, place of practice, and practice type.  

Inclusion refers to the intentional, ongoing effort to ensure that people with different identities can fully participate in all aspects of the work of an organization.  

Equity refers to an approach that ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities. It recognizes that advantages and barriers exist and that, as a result, everyone does not start from the same place. 

Building inclusive environments help employees feel a sense of belonging and increases empathy among teams. It also makes more resilient teams that are able to solve complex problems. 

Equipping your leaders with the knowledge to build more diverse and inclusive teams will not only make your teams feel more engaged and optimistic about working for your organization but also improves innovation, profitability and productivity.  

Research shows that companies with more inclusive business cultures and policies see a 59% increase in innovation and are 62.6% more likely to see increased profitability and productivity. 

The Future of Work
By rethinking how multicultural teams and individuals are managed, you can plan for a hybrid working future.
The Future of Work
By rethinking how multicultural teams and individuals are managed, you can plan for a hybrid working future.

People-Powered EdTech 

Learnlight offers over 30 virtual, digital and face-to-face communication skills training solutions to help your talent communicate more effectively and keep your teams engaged. From Powerful Listening, managing virtual teams, and giving actionable feedback to effective negotiation, we have cracked the formula to deliver compelling and affordable skills training to your key talent – wherever they may be.  

With over 15+ years of experience, we use our innovative technology, proven methodology and world-class trainers to provide transformational training to corporate learners across the globe. Get started with Learnlight today.  

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