3 talent engagement hurdles HR and workplace teams must clear in 2023

With more layoff woes to close out 2022 and a tight job market persisting into the new year, talent engagement and retention are back in the spotlight. The added prioritization gives HR and workplace leadership an opportunity to demonstrate their value by guiding the organization toward more effective ways of working.

HR and workplace directors will face unique challenges around employee communications and technology enablement this year as they search for the optimal solutions. Here’s some more detailed examples of what those issues might look like and how HR and workplace teams can resolve them.

1. Lingering questions about the future of work from executives and employees

Despite the accelerated adoption of hybrid and remote work, not every executive team has accepted that a more hybrid-friendly approach to managing the workplace is necessary. HR and workplace leaders can help guide this internal discussion by emphasizing that a long-term, industrywide transition is already underway.

Survey results recently collected from over 93,000 respondents by Leesman, an HQO company, paints a persuasive picture of this developing trend.

While 40% of those surveyed reported their companies instituting workplace-only policies in the final months of 2021, that number shrank to less than 10% heading into second half of 2022. Hybrid workplace policies, featuring a mix of home and office, increased from just under 50% to over 80% over the same period, reflecting the current and widespread embrace of hybrid work.

What’s motivating the shift? One factor is the positive relationship between flexible work arraignments and keeping talent engaged and happy. The 2021 Consumer Technology Association member survey revealed that 92% of responding technology companies said that flexible scheduling and remote work policies is important for retaining employees.

However, the retention benefits of hybrid work won’t be realized if remote employees don’t feel seen and heard. Without supplementing hybrid policies with the right technology, proximity bias concerns have room to creep in and talent engagement goals won’t be achieved. A unified solution for employee communication and feedback can assist HR and workplace teams to manage this challenge with ease.

2. Additional pressure to support talent engagement via a tech-enabled onboard process

An employee’s first impression of their new organization will have a lasting impact on their relationship with the company. That’s why the onboarding process is a crucial contributor toward overall talent retention and engagement goals. According to a widely cited report from the Brandon Hall Group, organizations with an effective onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82%.

Imagine the long list of potential onboarding hiccups that could result in a negative impression on a new hire’s first day:

• A complex, multi-step process of downloading and configuring multiple mobile apps
• Trouble finding a desk or workplace near colleagues during their first in-person visit
• Difficulty navigating the building due to gaps in wayfinding and access control
• Limited use of services and amenities due to inefficiencies in the onboarding process

Putting the right technology in place to simplify and streamline a new hire’s onboarding process is another way HR and workplace teams can improve long-term talent engagement and retention.

3. New competition for employee engagement as home offices get upgraded

One key takeaway from the recent Leesman research is that employees are sacrificing discretionary income and space in their home to create “bespoke home working environments.”

That means that workplace and HR teams are competing directly with these upgraded home offices for the engagement of their employees. Why should employees come into the office when they’ve invested time and money into creating a more productive workplace at home?

This challenge is a new opportunity for HR and workplace professionals to refocus their efforts around the main reasons people still want to come into the office: to collaborate, to receive mentorship, and to socialize.

Access to the right technology can make these refocused efforts even more fruitful. Deploying occupancy and utilization sensors, for example, can help leadership to measure which social events consistently draw attendance. This data also offers deeper insights into how people spend their time when they do visit in-person.

Likewise, a workplace experience platform can make collaboration and mentorship more accessible by showing employees when the people they want to work with are scheduled to come into the office.

These steps will help to transition the perception of the office from a place for focused work to a hub for unique experiences that aren’t found at home. As employees continue to invest in upgrading their home spaces to maximize productivity, the quality of in-office experiences will play an outsized role in talent engagement and retention.

Tools and tips to help reach talent engagement goals

From “quiet quitting” to technology enablement concerns, challenges to employee engagement continue to mount. Check out more takeaways from the latest Leesman research or connect with a workplace expert from JLL Technologies to help your people stay focused and engaged this year.