Today’s leaders understand that employee disengagement is a significant problem, and the accompanying employee burnout has severe negative impacts on their organization—such as low employee retention and productivity. However, we also found quite a few not-so-obvious consequences organizations face when engagement drops. Those effects include poor customer service, non-compliance with safety standards and less creative collaboration.
These issues are not good for any organization, but perhaps the toll on employees is even more significant. Researchers at Stanford University found that more than 120,000 deaths per year and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs are associated with and may be attributable to how U.S. companies manage their workforces. And that was before the Covid-19 pandemic.
To understand more about employee burnout, engagement and HR technology’s impact on today’s organizations, TCP Software conducted a national survey of more than 300 managers and executives of hourly and salaried employees.
Millennials Favor Remote Work
Despite the fact we are living in an age of “The Great Resignation,” we found the response to remote work has been overwhelmingly positive—especially for Millennials. This group of 26-41 -year -olds makes up the largest age group in the U.S. workforce and historically has been the least engaged at work. But then the pandemic arrived, and Millennials’ level of engagement at work dramatically increased due to the shift to remote work.
Gallup had similar findings in their polling, with 75% of Millennials who work remotely saying they want to keep doing so. For organizations that want to improve engagement for the largest age group in the workforce, remote work is an essential element.
Investing in Employee Engagement
It's not just Millennial workers that organizations are trying to keep engaged. Companies are investing in solutions that address the needs of a diverse workforce. More than half of our survey respondents say their top budget investment for 2022 is employee engagement. Where is that money going?
Our survey found that the top three approaches to engagement were:
- 48% creating of employee recognition programs
- 43% offering increased benefits or paid time off
- 40% developing of career growth plans
In addition to these top approaches, respondents also offered referral bonuses and extended mental health benefits, such as online wellness app subscriptions.
Some of our respondents shared what precisely was working for them and their employees:
“My company has added Mental Wellness Care Days,” said one respondent. “These days are an additional 80 hours a year that the employee may take, with pay – and with no questions asked.”
“Our company hired more people to take some of the weight off overworked positions.”
“We are balancing our budget among our employees and lessening their loads off of each other by splitting the hours evenly.”
Allowing employees to take mental health days when they need them is a popular tactic. However, putting the onus on the employee to take the time they need can be somewhat problematic. While some employees will gladly take a day off here and there to reset, others may have reservations. Employees often worry about the impact on their co-workers or their own workload if they sit out a day or two or feel their manager won’t support them despite the company policy.
For this reason, TimeClock Plus has instituted company-wide Mental Health Days. On these special days, the office is closed. The company essentially shuts down as though it were a national holiday. This way, no employee feels like they are getting behind on a project.
We’ve also come across other unique ideas to boost employee engagement that may fit your organization.
- Employee- Hosted Lunch and Learns: This activity fosters a learning and knowledge culture, builds leadership skills and helps break down organizational silos by sharing employees’ subject matter expertise. Some companies even encourage employees to share non-work-related skills and hobbies.
- Promote Volunteering: Studies have shown that volunteering is a great way to boost your mood. Many companies provide the time for employees to get out into the community for a few hours a month to volunteer as a team or on their own if they work remotely.
- Creative Brainstorming Labs: Take employees a step beyond their day-to-day and create a book/video club and suggest. Employees recommend books, videos and podcasts related (not necessarily directly) to your industry. This activity is great for getting back that creative and collaborative spirit.
The key takeaway we want to leave you with is that there is no limit to the employee engagement options you can implement. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. You have to find the right fit for your organizational culture. At the same time, each employee is different, and what one may find to be a fun activity may make others feel uncomfortable. Offering various options will be the key to increasing employee engagement and reducing burnout.
For more information on burnout, engagement strategies and HR technology’s impact on today’s organizations, we invite you to read our full report—Strategic Remedies for the Great Resignation.