Employee engagement and wellness are HR's top priorities

Leading employee engagement expert WorkBuzz has revealed the top priorities for UK HR professionals and business leaders in its new research report ‘The State of Employee Engagement 2021’. The report identifies employee engagement and overall wellness as top priorities, whilst succession planning and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are said to be least important to HR. The State of Employee Engagement report delivers the latest insights from over 300 organisational leaders, HR professionals, and industry experts, on their key challenges, priorities, and opportunities as businesses emerge from the Covid-19 crisis.

By a clear margin, the results reveal that the current top two priorities for HR and business leaders are employee engagement – and improvements to the overall employee experience – as well as prioritising employee wellbeing, cited by 57 per cent and 56 per cent of respondents respectively.

“It comes as no surprise that after 18 months of turmoil, HR professionals and business leaders are focusing on how to better engage their people and improve their overall health and wellbeing,” says Steven Frost, CEO and founder of WorkBuzz.

“Recruiting and retaining great talent is getting even harder – people want to work for organisations with great cultures and that care about their wellbeing. Forward-thinking companies are adapting – they are focusing on providing a memorable employee experience, which means listening to people’s needs and expectations, learning how to make things better, and then quickly delivering the improvements required.”

The State of Employee Engagement research also highlights HR’s third, fourth and fifth priorities, comprising of diversity and inclusion (D&I), employee retention, and hybrid working. 44 per cent of HR and business leaders are focusing their resources on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, with the same number concentrating on improving employee retention. Slightly fewer leaders (43 per cent) are most concerned about hybrid/flexible working and how to make it a success.

Frost says, “As employers are fighting to keep their employees from walking out the door, it makes sense that leaders are looking at how to create inclusive and attractive cultures with roles that offer flexibility around where and when people work. Talent now expects more flexibility than ever before, so if employers are not offering this, they’ll be severely limiting their talent pool.”

The report revealed a couple of surprises which were how few leaders are focused on succession planning (just 15 per cent) with even less prioritising their corporate social responsibility efforts. A mere 8 per cent of respondents state that CSR is important right now.

Frost comments, “With increasing pressure being placed on organisations to improve environmental and social sustainability, especially in the run-up to COP26, it’s a little unexpected to find so few survey respondents regarding CSR as a priority.”

“It can only be assumed that the intense pressure HR professionals are under right now, with staff shortages, improving employee engagement, addressing wellbeing, and reducing mass redundancies, is leaving little time to focus on more long-term considerations like succession planning and sustainability.”