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The future of employee engagement: The start of a new decade


A couple of months into 2020 and for many of us it still feels like we’re living in the future. While we may lament our lack of flying skateboards and self-tying hi-tops, it would be foolish to deny that we’re living in an age of technological wonder. Digital technology has revolutionised the way we do virtually everything, both inside and outside of the workplace. This is especially true of employee engagement.

In a business landscape where 85% of employees are either not engaged at work or actively disengaged, business leaders and HR directors need to get proactive. Since we’re living in such a futuristic age, it’s worth looking to the future of employee engagement to see how businesses can get the inside track when it comes to getting the most out of their workforce.

The future is in recognition over reward

It’s very common for businesses to assume that their employees are motivated solely by money. And while compensation is certainly important to employees, it’s possible that its importance is overstated by employers. A growing proportion of workers (especially younger employees) are less motivated by monetary reward than by recognition. It turns out that purpose trumps pennies any day of the week!

When asked how their employers could improve their engagement at work, 58% of professionals cited employee recognition, while 69% of employees feel that they would work harder if they felt that their efforts were more appreciated by their employers.

Employee recognition doesn’t just help to give employees purpose, confidence and self-belief (although it does all that). It also helps to break down barriers within organisational hierarchies. It prevents the “us and them” mentality that can pervade between frontline employees and management.

There are numerous ways in which employers can help employees feel more recognised. Even something as simple as taking the time to call them into your office to congratulate them on a job well done can be more meaningful to them than a reward like an impersonal voucher.

But in this technologically led age, there are ways in which digital tech can be used to further the increasingly important issue of employee recognition (more on that later).

Remote working and collaboration

In this digitally interconnected world, employers have more scope than ever to give their workforce the flexibility it needs. In an era where employees use their own mobile devices for work, the workplace is wherever they want it to be.

The 9 to 5 has never been all that conducive to employee satisfaction or engagement, especially for employees with families to look after. With the right digital tools, employers can implement a cohesive workplace culture that transcends the confines of a physical business premises.

By allowing employees to work remotely or on a freelance basis, they are free to achieve the work/life balance that other employers would deny them, ensuring not just their engagement on the job but their long term loyalty.

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Emphasis on personal development

For too long, many employers have been content to let their team members stagnate in the same position for months or even years without any additional training, learning opportunities or professional development. And this plays a significant part in the shockingly low engagement figures we currently see. Forward-thinking employers, however, envision a future where there’s an emphasis on ongoing personal development for every employee.

Training shouldn’t just end abruptly at the point of onboarding. It should be a constant part of the employee journey, and one that shows them just how much their employers value them. Employee training should do more than just help them to do their jobs better. It should prepare them for career progression or lateral movement within your organisation so that they can achieve their career goals with you rather than one of your competitors.

Employee wellness

Employee satisfaction is important. But businesses are growing more and more aware of the importance of employee wellness in keeping them engaged and productive. Employee wellness takes many forms — from ensuring that all employees have easy access to drinking water to serving healthy foods in the office. Many businesses are even taking steps to mitigate stress by being flexible in their working hours so they can pick the kids up from school or drop their partner off at work.

It goes without saying that healthy, happy employees are more productive, but more likely to stay with you. And that means less profit-sapping and disruptive employee turnover. People like to know that their employers care about them as people beyond their job role. An employee wellness scheme allows you to show them just how much you care.

App-solute satisfaction

In recent years we’ve seen technology play an increasingly prominent role in helping businesses recognise and celebrate their employees’ achievements. At a time when many employers have Bring Your Own Device policies that allow their team members to work on the devices that feel natural and familiar to them, employers can use mobile and online web apps to facilitate their employee recognition programmes.

These look and feel just like the social platforms employees use all the time in their downtime — except that they get to use them at work. These employee recognition platforms allow managers to celebrate employees’ achievements, whether they’re service milestones like an employee’s first anniversary with the company or a special achievement like a smashed sales target.

Best of all, these apps enable employees to share one another’s accomplishments. Only 28% of the most memorable recognition comes from an employee’s manager. When employees are able to offer sincere thanks and congratulations on a job well done, it can go a long way towards helping them feel engaged and facilitating a happy and harmonious workplace culture.

In essence, these platforms allow employers to address all of the issues above. They can help remote working employees feel in the loop, address employees’ emotional and psychological wellness, and even help them track their development by cataloguing and sharing important milestones in their journey with you.

The future is bright for employers who leverage the right tools

As we make our way through the first year of the new decade, we can afford ourselves a certain degree of optimism when it comes to increasing employee engagement. By leveraging the right technological tools, employers have the means to create a culture of recognition and celebration of employees achievements. And in a culture like that, employees will in turn reward them with their ongoing engagement and loyalty.

An employee being recognised for good work

An employee being recognised for good work