Engaged employees are more productive, stay longer with the company, and contribute to a positive company culture. So it’s no wonder more people leaders are looking at employee engagement as a metric to help them build a happier, more productive workplace.

While it’s a metric that every manager should know, the key owner responsible for developing strategies to improve employee engagement is the human resources (HR) department (or the equivalent). HR is responsible for attracting, retaining, and developing the talent needed for an organization to succeed. They are also responsible for creating a positive and inclusive work culture, fostering employee development, and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations. Therefore, HR is the natural department to oversee employee engagement initiatives, as they have the expertise and resources to design and implement programs that support employee engagement and ultimately contribute to the success of the organization.

In this article, we discuss how HR roles are evolving as we learn more about employee engagement.

Introduction to Employee Engagement and Its Impact on the Workplace

Employee engagement refers to the emotional connection that employees have with their work, their colleagues, and their company. The impact of employee engagement on the workplace is significant. Engaged employees are passionate about their work, they feel valued, and they are committed to the company's goals.

Engaged employees also tend to be more innovative, creative, and have better relationships with their colleagues, which helps prevent burnout.

Traditional HR Roles and Their Limitations

Traditionally, HR roles have focused on administrative tasks such as payroll, benefits, and compliance. While these tasks are essential, they do not address the emotional needs of employees. HR professionals have often been seen as enforcers of policies and procedures, rather than advocates for employees.

But the COVID-19 pandemic brought about numerous challenges for the global workforce. One was having to adapt to remote work, which led to a spike in burnout among employees. This collective experience, however unfortunate, also provided valuable learnings. We realized the significance of prioritizing our well-being and fostering strong peer relationships, self-care, and rest to achieve both personal and organizational success. So much so that workers are ready to quit their jobs to seek better working conditions!

Employers are taking notice and recognizing the importance of prioritizing their employees' well-being and personal growth to achieve mutual success, which has led to an evolution of HR roles.

How HR Roles are Evolving to Improve Engagement

In people-first organizations, HR professionals are seen as advocates for employees, rather than enforcers of policies. HR professionals are also focusing on creating a positive company culture that promotes wellness and employee engagement.

As an HR tech provider, we are witnesses and big fans of this evolution! We see more companies investing in HR data analytics teams, not to monitor productivity but to measure well-being metrics like employee engagement and job satisfaction. We’re seeing initiatives that prioritize building a positive company culture and self-care. We’re also seeing a lot more interest in our AI solution to better measure employee engagement and get real-time workforce insights to address employee needs.

Examples of HR Initiatives and Tips for Implementing Employee Engagement Strategies in Your Own Workplace

There are many HR initiatives that can improve employee engagement. But they all start with employee feedback and truly listening to your workforce. In a live interview with VP of Talent turned entrepreneur Jennifer Paxton, she mentions, “Companies are under the microscope to see how they’re going to lead with empathy and how they’re treating their people. Also, employees are speaking up about how they are being treated.”

People are happy to let you know where they need support when asked, so long as they see management and HR taking the steps to make improvements. HR should regularly gather feedback from employees to understand their needs and concerns and use this as a basis for data-driven initiatives that boost engagement.

Below are some examples of HR initiatives that can help increase levels of employee engagement.

Employee recognition programs

Acknowledging and rewarding employees for their contributions and achievements can boost morale and foster a sense of belonging and appreciation. Recognition can take many forms, such as bonuses, awards, public shout-outs, or even just a simple thank you note.

Professional development opportunities

Providing opportunities for employees to learn new skills and grow in their careers can increase engagement and retention. This can include training programs, mentorship opportunities, or career advancement paths.

Employee wellness programs

Prioritizing employee well-being can lead to a happier and healthier workforce, which in turn can boost engagement and productivity. Wellness initiatives can include everything from mental health resources and gym memberships to healthy snacks in the office and ergonomic workstations. HR professionals should focus on promoting employee well-being by providing resources for both physical and mental health. Promote work-life balance (for real!) and create a supportive work environment.

Flexibility and work-life balance

Offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours, can help employees achieve a better work-life balance, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and engagement. Additionally, providing resources for employees to manage their personal and professional lives, such as employee assistance programs or on-site childcare, can also be beneficial.

Boosting engagement for a remote or hybrid workforce can be tricky. Find some tips here!

Employee involvement in decision-making

Giving employees a voice in the decision-making process can increase their sense of ownership and commitment to their work. This can include soliciting feedback on company policies and initiatives, involving employees in goal-setting and strategy sessions, and encouraging open communication and transparency at all levels of the organization.

It’s important to remember that data and insights should help you choose the HR initiative that will make the biggest impact. For example, if employee sentiment shows that professional growth is weak, then brainstorm ideas to improve employee engagement!

The Future of Employee Engagement and the Role of Technology

We may be biased towards seeing the good in artificial intelligence… But we believe the future of employee engagement and HR is tied to AI technology. There are already many tech tools that make it easier and quicker to gather feedback from employees, measure employee satisfaction, and provide resources for employee well-being. Technology also helps employees better map out their opportunities for growth plus provides them with the educational materials, tools, and videos to strengthen skills and build knowledge.

While the ethical development of AI is still being debated, the growing emphasis on workplace well-being underscores the need for people leaders and technology to evolve in tandem. As HR roles shift toward building thriving workplaces, it's crucial that AI technology adapts the same goal and prioritizes employee well-being. It’s important that we build people-first AI technology that empowers happier, more productive teams.

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