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Unlocking employee engagement: New study reveals what employees want most in 2023



Lensa, an online job search platform, recently analyzed Google search data to determine exactly what workers want — valuable insight that can help companies boost employee engagement and retention.

The researchers also examined the data to see which workplace demands are trending, defined in this study as growing the most year over year.

This insider info is especially helpful for HR pros because it tracks the employee demands that are increasing in popularity.

So what do the findings reveal — and how can you use that insight to revitalize employee engagement? Here’s what you need to know.

What workers want now: 5 perks to boost employee engagement

Not surprisingly, remote work was “the top demand by far,” according to Lensa’s research. It returned almost 650,000 searches on Google in the last year.

Remote work also took the top spot in 2022, with 487,000 Google searches. The increased number of searches indicates that employees’ interest in remote work is growing, according to researchers.

During the pandemic, many employees found remote work to be a benefit that cast a wide net, reducing commuting time and costs as well as providing more family time and improving work-life balance.

The takeaway: It might be time to rethink those hardline return-to-office orders. Even corporate bigwigs like Amazon and Disney are facing unprecedented levels of pushback from employees.

Even though remote work was the clear winner in terms of searches, the data also revealed other perks that employees want right now:

  • Four-day workweeks are the second most desired perk, with 379,700 Google searches in the last year. A four-day workweek also took the second-place spot last year, with 192,000 Google searches. Again, the increase in the number of searches demonstrates a growing interest in the benefit. Lensa notes that shortened workweeks can provide additional benefits, including increased employee morale and reduced employee burnout.
  • Coming in at No. 3, work-life balance garnered 310,500 Google searches in the last year. Companies can go beyond encouraging work-life balance by helping employees regulate it. Doing so helps employees avoid the trap of toxic productivity. In 2022, this third-place spot was taken by employee assistance programs (EAPs).
  • Corporate social responsibility took fourth place on the list of employee demands, racking up 243,900 searches in the last year on Google. Corporate social responsibility shows that companies self-regulate their actions to prioritize accountability. For example, some companies have implemented volunteer PTO programs that allow groups of employees to give back to the community as company representatives — on company time. Previously, sign-on bonuses took the four-place spot in 2022.
  • Rounding out the top five, professional development returned 208,100 Google searches over the last year. How important is professional development? In a BetterBuys survey of 2,000 employees, 92% ranked professional development as “important” or “very important.” Previously, employee resource groups (ERGs) took the fifth spot on the list, with 84,300 Google searches in 2022.

A look ahead: Top 3 growing employee demands

Lensa also looked at the year-over-year increases in Google search volumes over the last year to better understand which employee demands are increasing in popularity.

Here’s what to put on your radar:

1. Sustainable work practices

Sustainable workplace practices had a 200% increase in search volume from last year. Between ongoing concerns about global warming and an increasing number of severe weather events, more employees than ever are focused on sustainable business practices. And as Gen Z enters the workforce, this trend is extremely likely to continue. The youngest generation in the professional sphere has been vocal about the need for corporations and businesses to be mindful of their environmental footprints and align their company values with employees’ concerns. If you haven’t already made it a priority, now’s a good time to prioritize sustainable investing options in your 401(k).

2. Workplace transparency

Workplace transparency had a 120% increase in search volume over last year. The growing interest in workplace transparency mirrors recent legislation that has called for more pay transparency. With this insider info, employers may want to brainstorm ways to be transparent about KPIs and revenue as well as decision-making strategies regarding pay raises and benefits offerings. To maximize recruiting efforts, include salary ranges in job ads. Companies may also want to consider providing channels for employees to share concerns, feedback and ideas.

3. Menopause leave

Menopause leave rounds out the top three growing workplace demands, with a 100% increase in search volume from last year. Global menopause productivity losses total $150 billion a year, according to a Bloomberg study. In light of the growing interest in menopause leave, employers can incorporate these low- and no-cost strategies to become a menopause-friendly workplace.

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