Obstacles to Employee Engagement in the Modern Workplace

Obstacles to Employee Engagement in the Modern Workplace

Employee engagement is a key indicator of business success and organizational health. But, if you search for employee engagement online, it can be difficult to find a consistent definition. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) describes employee engagement as “the level of an employee's commitment and connection to an organization.” Once you settle on a definition that aligns with your organization, you might be tempted to search for common solutions, pick your favorites, and start implementing them right away.  

However, before sending out the first survey questions you found on some blog or in an article, it's important to ask why you're looking for solutions in the first place. Taking the time to research and understand human engagement is challenging work, but it's critical to growing, scaling, and improving the health of your organization. Here's a list of common obstacles to employee engagement in the modern workplace.

1. Tensions of the Modern Manager

A recent study from Gallup shows that managers cause up to 70% of the variance in employee engagement levels.1 Due to this level of influence, many have been tasked with increasing team engagement, often without resources, strategy, or the full support of leadership. Yet, if we're expecting managers to improve team engagement, we need to start by understanding their changing needs.  

With the increase in remote and hybrid work, continuous digital transformation, general societal stress, and burnout, managers have had to become coaches, leaders, and friends. At the same time, these managers are simultaneously improving processes, performance, and engagement. It's no surprise that managers are experiencing burnout at higher rates than ever before.2 Learning how to engage your managers will make them more effective in engaging the rest of the team.

2. Sense of Community Declining 

The increase in disengagement, or rather, the consistently low level of engagement in employees across the globe, is not a new problem, but The Great Resignation (also referred to as The Great Reshuffle), along with the increase of hybrid and remote work has led to a continuous decrease in the sense of community. McKinsey’s article suggests that cultivating a sense of belonging for employees is the best place to start for many organizations. They found that 51% of employees who left their job in late 2021 lacked a sense of belonging in their previous company.3 

Other studies show that “social connection is the single biggest driver of our happiness and one of the biggest drivers of our engagement and productivity at work.”4 Companies need to be creative in providing spaces for human connection, especially outside of scheduled video meetings.

3. Current Engagement Measurement Pitfalls 

Currently, the most common solution for measuring engagement is through employee surveys. That said, without a solid understanding of engagement management, many initiatives are doomed from the start. An article by Gallup highlights three of the most common engagement management mistakes; choosing metrics that are too complicated, measurement of incorrect metrics, and the overuse of surveys.5 

Without a solid engagement strategy, the efforts of collecting this engagement data often doesn't feel worth it. In a worst-case scenario, the surveys become a detractor to engagement. Employees want to be heard, but only if action is taken to change the things they voice.  

4. Change, Change, and more Change! 

The last few years have brought an unprecedented change in the workplace. The environment shifted more quickly than expected, leaving many scrambling. But if change is the only constant, adaptability has quickly become a top indicator of sustainable business. Organizational health is the “ability of an organization to cope with change and continue to function with a high-performance workplace culture.”6 In cultivating a healthy organization, employee engagement has proven to go hand in hand with adaptability.  

Peoplelogic was started to help companies improve their organizational health and employee engagement management. Relying on surveys that give incomplete insights is unsustainable. We paint a picture of your organization through the web of data created every single day. We're preparing managers and leaders for strategic decisions by providing deeper insights into work-life balance, manager effectiveness, connectedness, belonging, and more.  

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