Newmeasures: Insights for an exceptional workforce

How to Engage and Retain Employees in 2023

Key Findings from Our State of Engagment Report

In 2022, people leaders and HR teams began to realize the end of the pandemic did not mean employees would happily return to old ways of working. Employees continued to change jobs at record rates as they searched for workplaces that offered flexibility, social connections, and higher compensation. This set of challenges, while not easy to navigate, gave organizations the opportunity to innovate and have meaningful conversations about the future of work. In this context, the need to listen to employees was clear, and our clients rose to the occasion. We helped clients gather feedback from nearly a half million survey respondents.

Our analysis of 2022 data revealed that while overall employee engagement levels today are similar to pre-pandemic levels, what matters most to employees has changed. Our new report details the latest trends in the employee experience and offers insights for the future.

What Matters Most Today?

Finding #1

A sense of belonging is vital for today's workforce to feel committed and to perform.

Each year we analyze the individual topics that have the greatest impact on overall employee engagement. Belonging rose to the #1 spot in 2022. Five years ago, most organizations were not even asking questions about belonging in their surveys. What’s becoming apparent now is that organizations have to think more holistically about the needs of their people. Employees want to work for organizations that reflect their personal values. They want to work for managers and leaders who reach out and acknowledge them on a personal level, which makes them feel valued and recognized. They thrive when they form social connections and feel a shared sense of purpose.

Finding #2

Employees need to see a promising future for themselves and the organization.

Employees are more engaged when they trust there’s a promising future for them. This belief is influenced by two factors: confidence in the future of the company as a whole and opportunities for individual career growth.

Economic uncertainty has shaken employee confidence in their organizations. In addition to feeling personally affected by inflation, employees know the companies they work for are facing significant challenges. Many are worried about layoffs and wondering how their organizations will survive and thrive in the changing marketplace. More than anything, people want to know that their employer will continue to be successful in the future. The degree to which this is true is primarily a function of how well the senior leadership team communicates a clear direction and vision for the future. Unfortunately, many senior leadership teams have not delivered. In 2022, we saw declines in scores for this topic for the second year in a row.

Finding #3

Employees have high expectations of their managers, and these managers need support.

In 2022, employees reported lower quality relationships with their direct manager or supervisor. This was particularly true in terms of how managers kept employees informed, demonstrated care for employees’ well-being, and fostered a sense of trust in the managerial relationship. This did not come as a surprise given the load managers have been carrying. We’ve heard from our clients that managers are being asked to wear more hats. As a result, they are feeling overwhelmed, underprepared, and caught between competing priorities. This is a difficult point of tension because employees are also expecting more from their managers than ever before. Employees look to their managers to support them in everything from their wellness needs to operational details, and managers are feeling this pressure. Executives and people teams should be thinking about what they can do to set their managers up for success in 2023 and beyond.

For practical suggestions on how to take action to respond to each of these trends, download our 2023 State of Engagement Report.

Wendy Mack has been helping business and HR leaders transform their organizations for more than two decades. She is the author of numerous books and articles on the topics of leadership, learning, change, and communication. Connect with Wendy at
Wendy Mack
Vice President
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