State of Engagement 2023: Shifting From Survival to Long-Term Success

As Workday Peakon Employee Voice surpasses 500 million survey responses, we explore the key trends and insights that are shaping the employee experience.

Since launching in 2014, Workday Peakon Employee Voice has garnered more than 500 million survey responses and 70 million written comments from employees representing 160 countries—giving us one of the world’s largest standardized data sets on employee sentiment.

Our latest analysis of employee engagement, based on over 10 million survey responses from more than 3 million employees across 1,000-plus companies around the world, revealed a positive score increase for all but one driver of engagement throughout 2022.

After years of operating in survival mode, 2023 could represent a turning point for organizations. While there is good reason to be optimistic, business leaders will need to think carefully about how to balance the needs of their employees with long-term strategic goals.

Driving Strategic Growth Through Employee Development

One of the engagement drivers that remained static throughout 2022 was strategy, ranking 11th out of 14 at the end of the fourth quarter, which highlights the difficulty that many organizations have had not only defining but communicating a clear strategy to their employees.

This perceived lack of strategy, coupled with economic pressures affecting compensation, has also impacted employee perceptions of growth and development. Even though growth scores increased by a very modest 0.08 throughout 2022, it still ranks 12th out of 14. 

Not only is growth one of three drivers that characterize highly engaged organizations, it is also a contributing factor to employee turnover intention. To ensure long-term success, companies will need to renew their focus on outlining a clear strategy, which in turn provides employees with an opportunity to develop new skills that support the business and their own careers.

Creating a More Sustainable Employee Experience

Many of the top-ranking drivers in this year’s report, including management support and peer relationships, point to the significance of assistance from managers and colleagues in navigating the uncertainty of recent years. This has placed additional pressure on employees at all levels, highlighted by increased levels of burnout risk across a number of industries. 

Although workload scores improved during 2022, it still ranks 13th out of 14 engagement drivers. Similarly, reward, accomplishment, and recognition all rank in the bottom half of this year’s list, indicating that many employees feel there is a lack of balance between their contributions and the acknowledgements being received, whether financial or other. 

To unlock the full potential of their people, and the associated benefits of increased productivity and innovation, companies will need to address the health and wellbeing deficit accrued in recent years, both as a way to retain stressed out employees and attract talent in the future.

Balancing Executive and Employee Expectations

Executives are often required to make difficult decisions. In most cases, these decisions are informed by data from across the business, but when it comes to the employee experience, there appears to be a disconnect between executives and employees.

Despite the fact that 87% of workers feel productive in a hybrid work environment—mirrored by an increase in meetings and hours worked—85% of leaders say that hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that employees are being productive.

While there are challenges to hybrid work that require a shift in mindset, such as focusing on outcomes instead of outputs and building trust between managers and employees, it’s vital that executives incorporate employee feedback into their decision-making process.

Leveraging AI to Make Better People Decisions

To make employee feedback more accessible, Workday Peakon Employee Voice recently launched semantic search, which leverages natural language processing (NLP), a subset of artificial intelligence (AI), to analyze millions of employee comments and present the most meaningful insights. 

Semantic search understands the contextual meaning of a phrase and relationship between words without needing to be explicitly mentioned in a comment. For example, if an organization wants to understand how employees feel about remote work, comments could include “home working,” “flexible working,” and more.

Unlike traditional keyword searching, which can take hours or days to manually search different terms and aggregate results, semantic search analyzes every employee comment—in seconds—to present the most relevant and insightful results. This empowers leaders with a faster and more accurate way to address emerging workplace trends based on employee feedback.

For all of the latest insights on how the employee experience is evolving, download the “State of Engagement 2023” or get in touch.

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