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Kincentric’s Seth Hartdegen on employee engagement in 2023

By Jack Campbell | |7 minute read
Kincentric’s Seth Hartdegen on employee engagement in 2023

The labour shortage crisis may be an opportunity in disguise. As employees are re-evaluating their priorities, rethinking their goals, and demanding more from the organisations they work for, it is crucial for employers now to put considerable resources into one of the most important people metrics of any business: employee engagement.

Many organisations around the world are experiencing a labour shortage, including Australia.

The changes in the workforce, particularly in the shift of employee expectations, are becoming instrumental in the labour market and how it operates. The desire to maintain a healthy work-life balance is at the centre of these expectations. With the option of flexible work hours, remote work, more paid time off, and increased control over their day, today’s workers are seeking greater flexibility – with some even willing to switch jobs in order to attain the level of flexibility they desire.


Employee engagement, is it the key to driving organisational success?

Since 2019, the global level of employee engagement has remained steady, hovering around 70 per cent and fluctuating by only small percentage points year on year. In fact, at first glance, this year’s trends in employee engagement seem rather promising and positive.

However, as outlined in our latest Global Trends in Employee Engagement (GTEE) 2022 research piece, the fluctuating levels in employee engagement at various points from 2019 to 2022 in both Australia and New Zealand clearly indicate that employee expectations are changing rapidly and organisations must work harder to keep up with the shifting expectations to recruit and retain the best talent.

How to increase engagement levels in 2023

Senior management must offer workers a clear vision and strategy on where the business is heading. A compelling vision and strategy can support employee buy-in to the organisation’s goals, inspiring people to act with purpose, and drive forward the organisation’s vision.

Additionally, organisations should adopt a deliberate and strategic approach when listening to their employees. By using an integrated approach in listening to arrive at an understanding of the organisational climate and current employee experience, employers can identify and measure perceptions on important areas, to ultimately deliver meaningful actions in support of their purpose and aspirations.

Supporting managers

Mid-level managers are feeling more pressure than before, which is reflected in declining global engagement levels among managers, including in Australia and New Zealand. The lower levels of engagement have been present since the pandemic, with no signs of recovery. The manner in which organisations manage and adapt to change, especially around evolving employee expectations, labour shortages and talent attrition, compounded with heavier workloads and changing work hours, are impacting managers and their work-life balance, elevating the risk of burnout.

To lead and thrive in today’s virtual and hybrid workplaces, managers need additional support and upskilling. They also need to be better equipped to manage themselves and their teams. Evidence suggests that with all these changes and demands placed on managers, they feel less prepared to meet them. This affects their work-life balance as they spend more time navigating these challenges and meeting expectations.

Additionally, the GTEE reveals that workers are now less confident in their organisation’s capacity to provide the necessary technology and resources required to meet business needs.

In 2021, only 59 per cent of employees felt that current work processes enabled them to be productive. In this rapidly changing world, workers require the support and skills to effectively serve the organisation’s short- and long-term goals. When organisations do not evolve quickly to address the gaps, mid-level managers will end up carrying a heavier burden to meet business expectations.

Chief human resources officers (CHROs) and their teams must advocate healthy productivity by encouraging better prioritisation among managers. Organisations can create the desired environment and employee experience to encourage employees to be motivated to learn, be productive, and be engaged, by prioritising workloads wisely and exhibiting engaging leader behaviours, as well as reducing friction as much as possible.

How HR can design and optimise employee experience

With around half of employees surveyed worldwide stating that they do not have enough confidence in their HR policies to foster a productive workplace, CHROs now need to be bold in recognising the importance of employee experience. They can do so by enhancing talent management processes and programs, ensuring they are human-centric and laser-focused on the optimised experience of their people.

As employee experience is unique to each individual, it can be difficult for many organisations to establish a comprehensive and integrated framework to foster optimal experiences but persisting with this approach will help to attract and retain top talent.

Putting workers at the centre of talent management processes is crucial to keeping them engaged and motivated, thereby contributing to business success. In addition to optimising employee experience, this can be supported by cultivating a sense of belonging and purpose among employees within an organisational culture where they are respected and feel safe to speak up.

Seth Hartdegen is the director of Kincentric’s Pacific market.


Employee engagement

Employee engagement is the level of commitment people have to the company, how enthusiastic they are about their work, and how much free time they devote to it.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.