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Attracting and retaining talent

How to Empower Employees and Build Trust

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A recent Achievers’ survey has revealed what HR and engagement leaders believe to be the biggest opportunities and challenges in workplace engagement. The data shows that despite targeted efforts by organizations to improve overall employee experience, leaders believe employees remain distrustful of management and feel unheard.

Companies feel they are succeeding in areas like supporting better work-life balance, communicating the mission of the organization and offering collaborative work environments for employees. What organizations feel they are failing at, however, is establishing trust with employees, offering clarity around work expectations and creating a culture of mutual feedback.

Our newest engagement report, Empowerment and Trust: The Keys to Employee Engagement, presents all the data and further reveals how to empower employees using the right tools, technologies, and communication strategies. Here are some important takeaways.

Organizations are improving at supporting work-life balance and clarifying organizational missions

Fifty-eight percent of HR and engagement leaders believe they are effectively defining expectations for employees. Although this isn’t a large majority, it’s a step in the right direction. Additionally, 64% believe they are offering employees effective support systems, which include peer support groups and access to resources that help with professional and personal growth. As work-life balance is important for supporting growth, it’s a positive trend that most HR and engagement leaders (62%) surveyed believe they support healthy work-life balance

Management isn’t getting proper employee feedback

Although 63% of HR and engagement leaders believe they are effectively creating a collaborative work environment, organizations are still lacking strong cultures of frequent employee feedback. Only 22% of HR and engagement leaders say their organization is effective or very effective at fostering a culture that supports communication channels between management and employees. This indicates the majority of organizations understand the need to listen better to their workforce and turn that feedback into action.

The most staggering statistic from this survey is that one out of seven organizations have no formal method of getting feedback from their employees. Some organizations still rely upon dated methods like bulletin boards to communicate with employees, which makes it no surprise that senior leadership believes employee feedback tactics could be improved.

HR and engagement leaders have expressed lack of trust as an issue within organizations

Only 21% of HR and engagement leaders agree or strongly agree that their employees deeply trust company leaders; this finding is troublesome considering lack of trust signifies larger issues than just engagement. Even with the highest-tier incentive programs, lack of trust in leadership puts companies at risk of high employee turnover, lower productivity, and negative customer experience. Lack of trust is a barrier to open communication within any organization.

Technology plus customization can increase employee engagement

With lack of communication being one of the root causes of lack of engagement and trust, technology can be used as a means to facilitate communication. HR and engagement leaders expressed that always-on feedback tools are vital in gaining and facilitating employee feedback.

In the past, surveys, questionnaires and manager one-on-ones were popular means of gathering employee feedback. Today, always-on listening tools can assist organizations in building strong cultures employer-employee communication. Forty-eight percent of HR and engagement leaders feel that technology has the potential to improve day-to-day employee experience. Furthermore, 42% believe that engagement programs are only effective when tailored to the values and preferences of employees.

Employee expectations and existing engagement tactics are misaligned

One of the most important results from this study was the contrast between employee expectations and what employees got from organizations.

Sixty-four percent of employees want access to always-on feedback tools, which proves employees are willing to work on improving their communication with organizations. In reality, only 20% of employees are provided this capability. Twenty-nine percent of employees want monthly feedback on their work, but only 14% of employees are provided that. Whether it is quarterly, monthly or weekly, the percent of employees that request feedback is greater than the percent organizations are providing them with.

For example, companies have significantly greater interest in annual requests for feedback (38%) than employees (10%). Sixty-four percent of HR and engagement leaders say an always-on feedback tool is vital for an engagement listening program, yet only 20% have such a tool in place.

While HR and engagement leaders can identify the current barriers to engagement, there’s a clear discrepancy between what they know to be key drivers of employee empowerment and their current state of disengagement. Investing in tools that enable trust in leadership through clear communication is an important step in moving the engagement needle.

Empowerment and trust are the keys to employee engagement

Profile image of author: Tiffany Durinski

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