A woman sitting at a desk in front of a computer looking exhausted. She is pinching the bridge of her nose and looks stressed.
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Why maintaining employee engagement is essential

2 Jul 2021

A survey from US HR software company Zenefits found that almost a quarter of respondents feel lonely at work.

As we continue to meander through the Covid-19 pandemic, conversations about where, when and how we will work going forward are constant.

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Some are flying the flag for fully remote options, while others are debating the possibility of giving some employees the occasional work-from-home option.

The most popular approach seems to be some form of hybrid working model, though what that means and how exactly it will look differs from one company to the next.

While all of these discussions are happening, employees are continuing to work under the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic. This can lead to stress, loneliness, fatigue and burnout – something employers, leaders and managers alike need to keep a watchful eye on.

According to a survey of more than 700 people by US HR software company Zenefits, almost a quarter (23pc) feel lonely at work.

The survey also found that loneliness was more prevalent in people aged between 18 an 45 compared those who were older.

An infographic showing whether or not employees feel lonely at work.

Infographic: Zenefits

Even before Covid-19 restrictions came into place, loneliness in the workplace was becoming a major issue. In 2017, former US surgeon general Dr Vivek Murthy wrote in the Harvard Business Review that up to 40pc of adults reported feeling lonely at work, which can cause a variety of problems such as depression and anxiety.

A Blind survey from last year found that 68pc of respondents working remotely felt more burned out than before, while an Oracle survey found that 76pc of people believed that their companies should be doing more to support employee mental health.

Employers need to ensure that they’re looking after their employees, both within the context of working through a pandemic and also in the more long-term context of the future of work.

Several companies have already taken the step of giving employees extra paid time off to combat the increased workload and stress during the pandemic.

HubSpot’s Katie Burke recently told Siliconrepublic.com that it’s not enough to tell employees to prioritise their mental health. “You have to be willing to be vulnerable and imperfect yourself. What you do is more important than what you say on this topic,” she said.

Outside of burnout and stress, employers also need to maintain strong employee engagement regarding their performance.

Zenefits’ survey found that while the majority of respondents (87pc) did receive the support they needed to complete their work, 27pc said their companies don’t track their performance.

While the effectiveness of annual reviews have been called into question, regular feedback sessions are still seen as a necessary tool for employee engagement.

Feedback allow employees and employers to change behaviour before it becomes embedded and metrics can provide an easy tool to help keep track of certain indicators – provided the metrics in question are effective.

An infographic showing the level of engagement employees have at work.

Infographic: Zenefits

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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