Study: The most daunting barriers to employee engagement

Employers should be mindful of widespread anxieties about automation, information overload and work-life balance.

Common engagement barriers

Employers often lament a lack of employee engagement, but modern workers have plenty to worry about.

A study conducted by Zeno sheds light on which workplace factors are hindering employees from fully committing and engaging on the job. Of the 4,000 workers surveyed, concerns about three key issues emerged:

  • Anxiety about automation
  • Work-life imbalance
  • Information overload

Zeno’s research also found that employees are increasingly disillusioned by a paucity of corporate clarity, direction and guiding principles. This sort of uncertainty can drain employees’ sense of purpose, and that is a fast track to disengagement.

The study says:

As many as 44 percent of respondents globally said they are concerned about their own company’s mission and values. More specifically, a significant number of respondents said they “do not know what their company truly stands for or represents.”

Respondents cited poor communication as a barrier to productivity and engagement, too. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they’d perform better if their bosses “communicated more clearly,” and 63 percent affirmed they “would perform better if their companies articulated values, strategy and direction more clearly.”

What can companies do to alleviate these stressors? The study suggests trying these tactics:

  • Expand listening beyond policies and procedures to include relevant societal issues.
  • Use focused research to uncover pivotal issues and sentiment among employees.
  • Change the executive communication agenda to address employee pressure points openly and productively.
  • Adopt communication tone and language that convey confidence and a sense of control.
  • Make corporate values explicit, current and aligned with actions.
  • Identify and enlist networks of employees as ambassadors.
  • Incorporate humanity into content, connecting with a personal nature of work and identity.

Companies keen to increase engagement might also offer more flexible scheduling, PTO and other substantive perks that fuel retention and make people’s lives easier.

Read the rest of Zeno’s report for a closer look at employee engagement trends.

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