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Employee engagement on the rise in Australia and New Zealand

By Shannon Williams
Tue 1 Feb 2022

Employee engagement across Australia and New Zealand has risen again over the last 12 months, according to a new report fron Qualtrics. 

The 2022 Qualtrics Employee Experience Trends report revealed a second consecutive year of engagement growth and a 15-point increase since the beginning of 2020, highlighting the positive impact that employer’s efforts are having to support their workforce through the pandemic.

Findings from the study - which draw on more than 1,600 responses from full-time employees in the countries - outline how employers must build on this growth to attract, retain, and develop talent in an increasingly competitive job market.

“Organisations across Australia and New Zealand continue to make great progress in maturing and evolving their employee experience to address their team’s evolving needs," says Crissa Sumner, EX Solution Strategist for Qualtrics in Australia and New Zealand.

"In fact, the local employee engagement score is higher than the global average for the first time ever (68 vs 66),” she says.

“The changes introduced by employers since 2020 have fundamentally changed people’s expectations of how they work, and will have long lasting impacts on the psychological contract between employees and employers into the future. To survive and thrive in this context, coupled with the challenges of this year - from talent shortages through to ongoing responses to the pandemic - organisations will need to continue to evolve and innovate their employee experience."

The Qualtrics 2022 Employee Experience Trends report highlights a number of key issues for employers to address in 2022:

Growth and development, inclusion, and wellbeing key to navigating a competitive job market

While engagement has increased year on year, an employee’s intent to stay with their employer for the next 12 months remains flat (55 per cent in 2022 vs 57 per cent in 2021).

With the Great Resignation predicted to peak in Australia and New Zealand during the first half Document of 2022, the Qualtrics study outlines the top drivers helping employers increase intent to stay:

  • I feel that my career goals can be met at this company (growth & development)
  • I feel as if I belong at this company (inclusion)
  • I feel positive about myself at work (wellbeing)
  • I believe this company has an outstanding future (strategic alignment)
  • I would recommend this company’s products and services (customer focus)

“Successfully navigating the current job market requires organisations to invest in more growth and development opportunities for employees to ensure their career goals can be met, alongside creating a culture where all people feel like they belong and can thrive," says Sumner.

"This means leaders must be enabled to work with their teams to build a culture of inclusion, and understand team member aspirations and what support they need to fulfill them."

Sumner says one way we have seen leaders successfully enable their teams in this context is by creating cultures focused on outcomes, and building programs that support others to develop associated leadership skills. 

"Thanks to this approach, we have seen a huge improvement of 15-points in relation to manager effectiveness in Australia and New Zealand compared to 12 months previously,” she says.

Prioritise long-term employee wellbeing

Despite a year-on-year increase to employee wellbeing, employee resilience suffered a 12 per cent decrease over the last year. This suggests the current levels of wellbeing are not sustainable unless employers focus on improving resilience among their teams.

A key area for employers to focus on to build resilience, especially in hybrid environments, is ensuring employees feel comfortable to take a sick day, with findings revealing a quarter (23 per cent) say they won’t even if they are not feeling well enough to perform their duties.

“The shift to hybrid environments is not as simple as setting a new work schedule. For it to be successful, organisations need to adopt new mindsets, define and iterate new ways of working, and continually capture feedback from their teams to ensure it is meeting their needs,” says Sumner.

Employees demand better technology experiences for the hybrid workplace

The volume of respondents saying they would be more likely to search for a new job if required to return to the office full-time is higher in Australia and New Zealand compared to the global average (43 per cent vs 35 per cent).

With hybrid work environments now the default for most organisations, findings suggest employees are underwhelmed by the current technology experiences provided. Only 30 per cent said the technology provided meets their expectations.

“Investing in improving technology in the hybrid workplace will pay off in many ways for employers," says Sumner.

"Beyond driving retention, the Qualtrics research shows employees’ who are satisfied with the technology available are 3x more likely to be engaged and productive at work, as well as report higher levels of wellbeing."

Employee and customer experience need to be better aligned

Customer focus emerged as a key driver of employee engagement (ranked 2nd) and intent to stay (5th) in 2022. This highlights the importance of creating a customer centric culture to drive engagement and address the challenges ahead.

Sumner says employee experience is often treated as secondary to customer experience.

"However, in more recent years leading organisations have recognised employees are the most important factor in delivering quality customer service. 

"With our findings suggesting the relationship is bi-directional - whereby a strong customer focus also drives employee engagement - employers that align their approach across each discipline will achieve the greatest competitive advantage in the future."

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