How the Internet of Things is Transforming Employee Engagement in 2022

Employee engagement has never been more critical—or more challenging. In the wake of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, and a massive shift to remote and hybrid work, companies are grappling with how to keep their people motivated, connected, and committed.

The stakes could not be higher. Engaged employees are the lifeblood of any organization. They work harder, stay longer, and drive better business outcomes. Conversely, disengaged employees cost companies billions in lost productivity, turnover, and subpar performance.

So how are today‘s organizations faring in the battle for employee engagement? Let‘s dive into the latest data to find out.

The State of Global Employee Engagement

First, the good news: despite the tumultuous past few years, employee engagement levels have actually risen globally. According to Gallup‘s State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report:

  • 21% of employees are engaged at work, up from 20% in 2020
  • 33% are thriving in their overall wellbeing, up from 32% in 2020
  • Employee engagement rose in 36 out of 38 countries surveyed

However, the gains are modest, and engagement levels still have massive room for improvement. Shockingly, only about one in five employees worldwide is truly engaged at work. And certain regions continue to struggle:

  • Engagement remains lowest in East Asia at just 10%
  • Only 14% of European employees are engaged
  • 50% of North American workers are "not engaged," while 17% are actively disengaged

Chart showing employee engagement rates by global region

The Pandemic‘s Paradoxical Impact

Surprisingly, despite the hardships of COVID-19, many employees report feeling more engaged now than before the pandemic. A McKinsey survey found that:

  • 54% of employees are more engaged than pre-pandemic
  • Employees who work remotely at least some of the time are 2.4x more likely to be engaged

What‘s driving this paradoxical trend? Experts believe the mass shift to remote work has given many employees greater autonomy, flexibility, and work-life balance—key drivers of engagement. Companies have also had to step up communication, recognition, and support for employees‘ wellbeing during this challenging time.

However, the picture is mixed. The same McKinsey study found significant variation across demographics:

  • Employees without young children have seen a 2% increase in engagement, while those with young children saw a 2% decrease
  • Engagement dropped 3% for employees who can‘t work remotely and 8% for on-site managers

Chart showing how employee engagement has changed for different demographics during the pandemic

Engagement Drivers and Detractors

So what factors matter most for engaging employees? A Quantum Workplace survey identified the top drivers:

  • Job clarity and priorities
  • Relationship with immediate manager
  • Belief in senior leadership
  • Learning and growth opportunities
  • Company confidence/future vision

Meanwhile, the biggest detractors from engagement are:

  • Unfair treatment at work
  • Lack of work-life balance
  • Feeling unheard or unvalued
  • Unreasonable workload
  • Lack of teamwork and collaboration

Infographic showing key drivers and detractors of employee engagement

Generational and Industry Differences

Employee engagement patterns also vary significantly by age group and industry. For example:

  • Baby Boomers have the highest engagement at 38%, followed by Gen X at 33%, Millennials at 25%, and Gen Z at just 20% (Quantum Workplace)
  • Sectors with the highest engagement are Construction (43%), Leisure/Hospitality (37%), and Government (35%), while Healthcare (24%) and Education (29%) struggle most (Gallup)

Chart comparing employee engagement levels across different generations

The Promise and Peril of Employee Monitoring

One of the most controversial trends shaping the future of engagement is the rise of employee monitoring and productivity tracking software. With remote work now commonplace, more than 60% of companies with over 1,000 workers now use "bossware" to track emails, messages, meetings, and more.

Proponents say these tools provide valuable data to understand and optimize engagement. Case in point: companies using Microsoft‘s Viva Insights have seen a 5% increase in focus time and 17% increase in network size.

However, many employees bristle at this Big Brother approach. One ExpressVPN survey found:

  • 59% of employees feel stress or anxiety about their employer monitoring their online activity
  • 43% say surveillance has a negative impact on their relationship with their employer
  • 28% have previously had an employer use information gathered from monitoring tools against them

Companies must tread carefully and strike the right balance between visibility and privacy to harness monitoring technologies without alienating their workforce.

Investing in the Employee Experience

Ultimately, the organizations that will win the battle for talent and engagement in 2024 and beyond will be those that focus on creating a holistic, human-centered employee experience. Emerging best practices include:

  • Soliciting frequent employee feedback through pulse surveys, eNPS, and always-on listening
  • Offering flexible work options and generous paid time off
  • Providing mental health and wellness resources
  • Personalizing learning and development opportunities
  • Using AI to optimize schedules, workloads, and team connections
  • Infusing company culture and values into the day-to-day work experience
  • Measuring the ROI of engagement initiatives to continuously improve

The data is clear: companies that prioritize employee experience outperform their peers. According to Gallup, businesses with highly engaged workers have:

  • 23% higher profitability
  • 18% greater productivity
  • 14% higher sales growth
  • 18% less turnover for high-turnover organizations
  • 43% less turnover for low-turnover organizations

Looking Ahead

As we move through 2024 and beyond, employee engagement will only become more vital for business success. In a world of skill shortages, digital disruption, and intense competition, companies simply can‘t afford to have two-thirds of their workforce checked out or looking for the door.

The good news is that with the right strategies, engagement is within reach. By leveraging data, technology, and a human touch, organizations can create magnetic workplace cultures that bring out the best in their people.

It won‘t be easy. Building a truly engaged workforce requires continuous listening, experimentation, and improvement. But the payoff—for employees, employers, and the bottom line—will be immense.

The future of work belongs to the engaged. Is your organization ready?