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Want to Know What’s New in Employee Engagement and Motivation? 5 Trends You Need to Pay Attention to in 2023

January 23, 2023

By: Keather Snyder

Workplace trends and buzzwords may have you thinking that 2023 will be all about the word quiet. I mean really – how much more can we take? Everywhere we look there are LinkedIn posts, Tik Tok videos and articles about quiet quitting, quiet firing and quiet hiring.

In a world where employee engagement is at an all-time low, this is no time to be quiet.  The need for open, transparent communication has never been greater. Let’s dig into what employee engagement and motivations trends we should pay attention to in 2023 to make an impact.

First, a little bit of bad news. According to the most recent Gallup surveys, U.S. employee engagement continues to trend downward. After trending up for several years, this was the first annual decline in a decade. According to the most recent data:

  • 32% of full-time and part-time employees are actively engaged
  • 17% are actively disengaged
  • 51% are neither actively engaged nor actively disengaged

Every time I look at this data the group that concerns me the most is the large number in the middle who are neither. They can be swayed either way. In other words, they are coming to work each day, doing the basics of the job, not actively trying to make the company better, but not actively trying to sabotage it either. These are your potential quiet quitters.

Anyone actively disengaged isn’t doing it quietly. Our job as leaders is to make sure we retain, reward and grow the actively engaged, while focusing on what we can do about that group in the middle to keep them positive and productive. Unfortunately, the actively disengaged can take up most of our emotional energy and time on any given day. So ask yourself, where is your time and focus best spent.

Here are 5 things to pay attention to this year to help drive engagement and productivity in your workplace.

#1 Stay flexible with remote and hybrid work policies

There was a lot of talk in 2022 about companies requiring employees to return to the office. Employees went looking for other jobs and shared open willingness to take pay cuts to keep their flexibility with working remotely. I recently heard a job seeker say that the first question they ask of the recruiter is if the job is remote and that they won’t consider anything else.

Gallup’s recent data shows that remote and hybrid workers are more engaged than on-site workers. Employees who work exclusively remote or hybrid tend to have higher levels of engagement (37% engaged in both groups) than those who work exclusively on-site (29% engaged).

Even if your business model doesn’t support a fully remote scenario, companies that take a remote first approach make employees more motivated by seeing their leaders show flexibility. The key to this is also shifting focus from efficiency to effectiveness. It’s no longer about how many hours an employee works, but more about how much value and impact they create.

Organizations are looking at new ways to track and evaluate employee performance. They are shifting from quantity to quality which leads to a win-win scenario where employees feel more valued and trusted, and leaders feel more confident that their employees are doing great work. Which leads us to the next trend of improving people analytics.

 #2 Use data more wisely to understand your people

Google knows that I’m more interested in Jeeps than Volvos and that I’m more likely to click on a picture of a monkey than a cat. Email marketers know that I’m looking at stand up desks and fill my social feeds with suggestions. This same kind of data can be used to help understand when people are most likely to call in sick or what functions have employees feeling most disengaged

The next generation of technology tools use data to shine light on employee productivity, well-being, and satisfaction using A.I. and an innovative combination of collaboration analytics and peer polling for a rich understanding of employees, teams, and their work environments. Visier’s Workplace Trends 2023 report outlines several approaches HR teams and executives can take to let people analytics to do the heavy lifting and leave the guesswork behind.

At the individual level, using behavioral science is critical to understanding what motivates and demotivates your staff. Employee behavioral assessments, such as the Omnia Development Report, provide tremendous insight into how a person prefers to communicate as well as what motivates and demotivates them.

#3 Welcome people-first transparency trends

Experts predict that wage and salary transparency will play a leading role in 2023 workplace dynamics. We continue to see a surge of TikTok salary transparency videos emerging with every kind of professional imaginable sharing what they make for a living.  Seventeen states have implemented laws around payroll transparency with more to come. If you haven’t already, your business should be to address this trend. You can get in front of it by posting open positions that include salary ranges.

Another people-first trend emerging is unlimited PTO and the rise of the four-day work week. These practices may not work for your small or mid-sized business but consider other flexible work arrangements for your staff and get creative by focusing on the quality of work output instead of time.

#4 Manage your managers first

According to a recent study by SHRM, managers were 2x more likely than individual contributors to be looking for a new job. Corporate managers are burning out rapidly finding their jobs 10 times harder than before the pandemic. They’re struggling across the board with staff retention, hiring and team performance. And with the growing focus on the employee, managers are sandwiched between the employee's and the organization's needs.

Front line managers are the key to driving performance, team dynamics, culture, and engagement. In small and medium-sized businesses managers wear multiple hats and are typically asked to not just manage all aspects of their team’s work but perform many of the same functions themselves. When is the last time you brought your front-line leaders into a forum and asked them how they’re doing? Listen to their stories and emphasize helping them first.

#5 Promote physical and mental well-being across the board

Another finding from the Gallup survey shows that engagement is higher for organizations that focus on culture and well-being. Work and life are becoming more blended for your employees and just like the managers, employee burnout continues to rise. Workers who are healthy in body and mind are likely to stay motivated and perform better. They may also be less likely to take sick days.

There are many creative and relatively inexpensive ways to demonstrate your commitment to employee wellness in the workplace. Consider offering gym membership reimbursement or access to meditation apps. Encouraging frequent breaks during the workday. Track time off to be sure people are adequately using their PTO. Offer lunch-and-learn sessions that provide education on well-being, nutrition, and mental health.

And remember, like they say before takeoff, put your oxygen mask on first. Be sure that as you launch into 2023, you are ready mentally and physically for the road ahead.

Omnia is here for you. Whatever your hiring and onboarding challenges, Omnia can help! Our skilled Customer Success team is available to provide guidance throughout the employee lifecycle. Our behavioral assessments are quick, powerful, and now mobile friendly. Let us know how we can help you navigate this evolving world of work and drive success in 2023.

Keather Snyder

Chief Revenue Officer, is a leader in helping organizations improve and optimize their talent selection, development, and company culture. For over 25 years she’s sold and built global sales teams, created innovative marketing strategies and led exceptional client delivery and professional services organizations.

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