According to data from Gallup’s 2017 State of American Workplace report, only 33 percent of workers reported being productively engaged in 2016 and employee engagement rose only three percent from 2012 to 20161. Despite the millions of dollars organizations routinely spend to boost employee engagement, this statistic is a clear indication of workers’ sentiment around the subject and a call to action for leaders to reconsider some of the current initiatives in place at their companies.
Jai Verma, Senior Executive Officer at Cigna and Global Head of its Business to Government (B2G) segment discussed some of these changes at the 6th Annual GOV HR Summit 2018 that ran from October 23 to 24 in Dubai, UAE.
Below are a few insights on the ways in which today’s business leaders and HR professionals can help transform their workplace environment and engage employees to improve performance:
Focus on employee experience rather than engagement. Employee experience (EX) is the sum of all interactions an employee has with a company from their first contact as a potential recruit to their last day of employment. For many corporations, the idea of engagement has revolved around providing perks such as free food or gym memberships rather than helping improve the day-to-day experiences for their employees. EX involves designing and delivering distinctive experiences for employees that are aligned with the desired workplace culture.2
Treat employees like customers. Just as business owners focus on providing the best customer experience, employee experience must be viewed through the same lens to create a positive workplace environment and sustain an engaged workforce over a longer period of time3. Business leaders would benefit from adopting a mindset to build a company culture where employees enjoy their workplace and are aligned towards a common purpose.
Gauge employee sentiment. According to Cigna’s latest 360 Well-being Survey, awareness levels are low of how important workplace wellness programs are. The survey indicates that there is a growing need to have workplace wellness programs, and is crucial for employees in the UAE, with 81 percent of the respondents agreeing that such initiatives are important in choosing between two potential employers. Notably, this finding peaks to 85 percent amongst millennials. Workplace wellness programs forms a crucial part of the happiness of the workforce and play a significant role in attracting and retaining talent.
 Gallup 2017: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238085/state-american-workplace-report-2017.aspx Accessed on October 29, 2018
 Forbes 2018: https://www.forbes.com/sites/deniselyohn/2018/01/02/2018-will-be-the-year-of-employee-experience/#646fcfe61c8f Accessed on October 29, 2018
 SHRM 2018: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/0618/pages/creating-an-optimal-employee-experience.aspx Accessed on October 29, 2018