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Study: 5 Takeaways Organizations Need To Know As They Navigate The Next Phase Of Work

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at September 21, 2021

When we published our first annual Global Culture Report three years ago, we never could have imagined the global pandemic that would tear across the globe, wreaking havoc on lives and irrevocably reshaping the modern workplace. 

Our 2022 Global Culture Report, released today, demonstrates the significant shifts that are continuing to redefine how we work as employee attitudes evolve and leaders face unfamiliar challenges. Some of the findings are a wake-up call: Employee engagement, for example, has dropped 18% over the past year, our data shows. Yet others point to a promising path forward: Even after a year-plus of remote work, 61% of employees still see their workplaces as their primary venue for forging new friendships. 

This year’s report is particularly illuminating. It comes at a time when many organizations are soul-searching, and many others are flailing, as the Great Resignation resets the balance of power between employers and employees. Our findings, based on data gathered from over 38,000 employees, leaders, HR practitioners and executives from 21 countries around the world, provide an in-depth look at timely workplace culture and employee experience issues. Here are some that caught my attention: 

1. Employee engagement has plummeted 18% since last year. The average employee engagement score dropped 18% from last year’s report, to 52%. This is a statistic that I would place firmly in “wake-up call” territory. At the same time, our research indicates that there is not always a direct correlation between engagement, which companies traditionally track, and great work, which may be a more effective metric. Great work, of course, is more complicated to measure, and in the coming months I will be writing more about this topic. In the meantime, it’s important to note that while leaders should continue to evaluate engagement—and intervene when engagement levels drop precipitously—they might also explore new ways to assess whether great work is actually being done. 

2. Nearly two-thirds of employees say their social groups at work inspire them to do their best. Yet nearly half cite diminished opportunities to interact with colleagues. Even as remote work flourishes, 61% of employees say the workplace is where they form most of their new friendships and that their social groups at work inspire them to do their best work. Yet 45% of employees say the number of individuals they regularly interact with at work has decreased significantly over the past year. Taken together, these figures point to the tremendous value that lies in creating new opportunities for employees to get to know one another personally. When organizations provide such opportunities, the odds of increased retention, inclusion, engagement and employee experience scores double or more than double.  

3. Engagement increases 41% and retention soars 77% when workers have flexibility in where and how they work. Hybrid work models, in which people spend some of their time outside the office, are on the rise. Our study points to several critical ingredients for successful hybrid employee experiences, including flexibility around how time in and out of the office is structured. Our research shows that 42% of hybrid employees currently work three to four days a week in the office and feel that three days is ideal, because it allows enough time to meaningfully connect with their teams and organizational culture.

4. One in three employees feel disconnected from their leader. Each year we measure the six elements of workplace culture that together determine an employee’s decisions to join, engage with, and remain at their workplace. The most influential one is leadership, because it cultivates the other five (purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation and wellbeing). Employees who feel connected to their leaders are more likely to rate higher on the other five, which is why the widespread sense of disconnection is an especially alarming figure. 

5. Employee recognition can boost engagement 173%. Conventional wisdom points to a strong correlation between employee recognition and healthy workplace cultures. In this year’s study, we found a causal link: hard evidence that personalized recognition directly impacts the strength of the connection between employees, which in turn affects culture and business performance. When recognition is built into an organization’s culture, employee engagement rises 173%, sense of purpose rises 114% and feelings of success rise 151%. Recognition can align people with important goals, help them see their role in the organization’s success and strengthen teams and culture—all of which lead to greater retention, satisfaction and, ultimately, results.


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