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Employee Listening Benchmark Data Is Clear: Change Management Matters

Employee Listening Benchmark Data Is Clear: Change Management Matters

The Perceptyx benchmark database provides deep insight into global trends in employee sentiment and engagement. Our most recent benchmark update highlights how engagement levels have shifted from 2019 to 2023 and how the drivers of engagement have evolved. Businesses worldwide continue to adjust to our post-pandemic reality and the unique challenges it presents. By analyzing the trends and factors that influence engagement, Perceptyx can help equip organizations with the insights needed to foster a more engaged and resilient workforce. 

To set the stage for this analysis, it’s important to first define employee engagement as well as its importance in measuring and understanding organizational health and employee well-being. 

Employee Engagement Defined

Employee engagement describes how employees feel about the organization — their emotional attachment — and what they’re willing to do as a result of that emotional attachment. Engagement goes beyond mere job satisfaction to provide insight into behavioral outcomes of the work experience. When an employee is engaged, they feel connected to the organization, and motivated to put forth discretionary effort. Engagement and performance go hand in hand as a virtuous cycle. Engaged employees perform at a higher level — which leads to success for both the individual and the organization — and that experience of success builds stronger engagement. At the core, the anticipation of success fuels engagement. 

Measuring Employee Engagement at Perceptyx

To measure employee engagement effectively, Perceptyx employs a robust framework that measures four critical dimensions: Pride, Advocacy, Commitment, and Motivation. Together, these metrics help us understand the depth of pride employees feel towards their company, their willingness to endorse it as a great place to work, their plans to continue their tenure, and their overall sense of accomplishment in their roles. Our approach ensures a comprehensive picture of engagement across various companies and industries, allowing us to deliver data-driven, actionable insights.

The consistency of our methodology also enables extensive benchmark coverage and allows us to identify both broad trends and subtle nuances in employee engagement across diverse sectors, regions, groups, and time periods. This ensures that we can track changes effectively and accurately — continuity that’s essential for understanding shifts in employee attitudes and preparing responsive strategies.

Year-Over-Year Engagement Trends: The COVID-19 Impact and Beyond

Engagement Index Trend

During the unprecedented crisis of 2020, there was a marked spike in employee engagement as companies stepped up, rallying to support and protect their employees. This period saw businesses implementing various measures that temporarily boosted morale and dedication, reflecting a collective effort to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic.

However, this initial surge was followed by a significant decline in engagement as fatigue began to set in. The continual pressures and uncertainties of the pandemic era led to an erosion of enthusiasm, with engagement scores dropping as the pandemic and other macroeconomic challenges persisted.

By 2023, a notable shift occurred with the stabilization and subsequent increase in overall engagement levels for the first time since the onset of COVID-19. This marked a turning point in employee sentiment and an opportunity for organizations to build upon the engagement levels from the pre-pandemic era.

A deeper dive into each engagement metric provides a clearer picture:

  • Pride: While pride in one's company showed signs of recovery and improved from 2022, it remains just below pre-COVID levels. 

  • Personal Accomplishment: The most dramatic increase was observed in feelings of personal accomplishment, which surpassed pre-COVID levels in 2023. This demonstrates employees leaning into the work itself, finding meaning and fulfillment within their roles. 

  • Commitment: Employee intention to stay levels are rebounding from “The Great Resignation” that made headlines in previous years. This reflects a variety of both organizational and macroeconomic factors including hybrid work, layoffs, ongoing disruption, economic uncertainties, and evolving perceptions of the job market. 

  • Advocacy: The sole employee engagement item that did not show overall improvement in 2023 was willingness to recommend the company as a great place to work. While employees may be gaining confidence in their own employment experience, many are still hesitant to recommend their organization to others. This pattern of improvement in commitment and overall engagement paired with the continued decline in employee advocacy represents uncertainty, instability, and disruption.  

The Importance of Change Management

The Engagement Index is an outcome measure, and the items are not designed to be directly actionable. Therefore, identifying the drivers of engagement is critical to inform the most appropriate actions for improvement. Prioritizing the top drivers helps narrow focus on the key barriers to be addressed in order to close the experience gap between highly engaged and less engaged employees. Our latest benchmark data revealed the top global drivers of engagement:

  • Change Management: The effectiveness of change management has emerged as the top driver of employee engagement in 2023, underlining the profound impact organizational transformation has on employee experience dynamics. Confidence in the ability of the organization to handle change, and support for employees in adapting to changes, were the top differentiators between highly engaged and less engaged employees, accounting for two of the top five drivers of engagement. 

  • Confidence in Senior Management: Similarly, confidence in senior management was a key driver of overall engagement. Although not a new driver, this confidence factor is crucial during times of uncertainty and emphasizes the need for strong, visionary leadership during turbulent times. 

  • Career Opportunities: Consistent with previous years, career opportunities remained a key differentiator in the employee experience. Anticipating success in the form of career growth is critical for engagement and retention in any organization.

  • Belonging: A sense of belonging also remains an enduring driver of engagement, reinforcing the focus on inclusion for improving overall engagement. As changes and disruptions persist, it’s important that employees feel valued and connected within their organization.

Employee confidence is undermined by ongoing uncertainty related to both internal organizational factors and external macroeconomic factors, negatively impacting their ability to anticipate success, which is core to engagement. The importance of effective change management in the age of perpetual disruption cannot be overstated. However, our latest benchmarks reveal that only 59% of executives and 54% of managers express confidence in their organization's ability to manage change effectively. This gap in confidence is substantial, indicating potential weaknesses in the clarity, support, and execution of change strategies. Moreover, nearly 40% of individual contributors report a lack of understanding about the reasons behind organizational changes. This disconnect fuels uncertainty, underscoring the need for transparency and support in managing through disruption. 

To address these challenges, it is essential for organizations to adopt best practices in change management. First, leadership must prioritize clear, consistent communication. Every phase of change should be communicated transparently to all levels of the organization, explaining not only what the changes entail, but also why they are necessary, and how they are expected to improve the organization. Second, involving employees in the change process can significantly boost buy-in and reduce resistance. This can be achieved through employee listening programs, workshops, feedback sessions, crowdsourcing opportunities for employees to voice their concerns and contribute ideas, and even AI-assisted activation of the sort powered by Perceptyx’s People Insights Platform.

Additionally, providing adequate training, resources, and support is crucial to prepare employees for new processes, technologies, or shifts in strategy. Equipping employees with the necessary skills and knowledge can alleviate anxieties and improve competency in new systems. Lastly, it's vital to measure and continuously track the impact of change. This involves assessing employee sentiment and engagement levels through regular surveys and other listening events, allowing leaders to adjust their strategies and action planning in response to real-time feedback and keep the workforce aligned, motivated, and anticipating success.  

Perceptyx’s Data-Driven Insights and People Insights Platform Can Propel Your Organization Forward

With a vast repository of more than 20 million responses from more than 500 global organizations, Perceptyx’s benchmark database enables the tracking of engagement trends and the delivery of data-backed, actionable insights that can help organizations enhance their employee engagement strategies. Let our workforce transformation consultants and People Insights Platform help you make the most of these insights to foster a more engaged, productive workforce. Schedule a meeting with a member of our team to learn more.

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