- More than half (51%) of employers say employee satisfaction, employee mental health and emotional support are top priorities, according to research released Jan. 3 by Integrated Benefits Institute. The findings suggest that the stresses of modern working life coupled with rising healthcare costs have made employee well-being an increasingly critical priority, IBI stated in the release.
- Survey data from 305 HR professionals in the U.S. also revealed that employers struggle with initiatives that engage both on-site and remote employees; 45% said adapting to new virtual and hybrid work arrangements poses hurdles, such as balancing remote work (45%), isolation/social interaction (44%) and managing employee burnout (33%).
- Although investing in workplace wellness initiatives yields benefits, employers must still “balance quality programming with cost management, account for diverse workforce needs, and leverage data analytics to gauge value,” IBI said. More than half of employers do link insights from data collected on employee satisfaction (72%), retention (57%) and productivity (52%) to the cost and quality of their programs and initiatives, the survey found. But employers can also gain by re-evaluating existing policies and programs to ensure they map to objectives around productivity, growth, efficiency and other metrics, and by assessing which roles are best suited for fully remote, hybrid or in-office work based on business needs, IBI recommended.
Given recent projections of increased turnover and concerns about declining employee engagement, it follows that employers will want to regularly review how satisfied employees are with their current situation — especially since an overwhelming percentage of HR leaders have said they expect retaining existing workers to be a key part of their talent strategy in 2024, a December report from The Conference Board found.
Engagement is a concern because it’s about the energy employees want to put in their jobs, as one HR exec described it. Actively disengaged employees may be disgruntled with their employer and likely to leave, another expert pointed out.
But there are ways HR can respond, including clarifying expectations, a big component of engagement, HR leaders have said. IBI recommended that employers offer training to managers. A key training point should be getting managers to think about how their direct reports’ jobs are structured and to have brief, but meaningful and weekly conversations with their reports about such issues as goals, well-being and recognition, according to Gallup research.
Employers should also take a multi-dimensional approach to engagement, focusing as well on financial well-being, mental health and caregiver support, HR leaders have said — issues cited in the IBI report as other important priorities.
Flexibility and work-life balance are additional concerns, the IBI research found. But employers have to find ways to engage both on-site and remote employees, who differ on the benefits of each arrangement, according to a previous report. For example, while nearly 6 in 10 survey-takers said working independently in a remote setting is more productive, about the same percentage said they like meeting new colleagues in the office, and workers were split on where they focused better.
Because no one-size-fits-all option satisfies all employees, employers may want to conduct “stay interviews,” with open communication at every step of the way, from the recruiting process, to onboarding, to performance management, to training and development, one executive has recommended.
Employers should also be aware that as the work environment continues to evolve, workers’ needs will change and engagement strategies must evolve also, others have noted.