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Posted on 30 December 2019

What are the latest trends in employee engagement?

7 minute read

How can HR teams keep a finger on the pulse for the latest trends in employee engagement?

Your employees are more than just another overhead expense. They’re an investment. And like any investment, you need to be able to maximise your return on them if they’re to help take your business to the next level.

You’ve gone to great effort and expense to recruit each and every member of your team. But if you’re not making an active effort to keep them engaged on the job, you risk forfeiting their productivity and seeing your ROI in your employees nosedive.

Many businesses believe that they’re “doing” employee engagement. But if “tacky tie Tuesdays” and bacon butties on a Friday morning are all you’re bringing to the table, you might need a refresher course in employee engagement ideas.

Take a look at some of the latest trends in employee engagement. How many will you incorporate into your operations in 2020?

2020 is the year of the Millenials!

A lot has been said about millennials in the business blogs and magazines. Millennials have alternately been decried as indolent attention seekers and hardworking and ambitious digital natives with a great capacity for thinking outside the box.

One thing’s for sure, more and more millennials are coming out of higher education and into the workplace, no matter how you feel about them. Indeed, it’s estimated that by 2020 around half the global workforce will be millennials, and by 2030 that number will rise to 75%. This digitally savvy and occasionally unorthodox generation will soon make up the bulk of your workforce.

The question is, what will you do to keep them engaged in the workplace?

Creating a workplace culture that respects diversity of thought and rewards creative problem solving is essential, as is a culture of open communication between employer and employees. When millennials feel like they’re valued for their skills and personal attributes rather than their ability to function within the parameters of their job role, they’re more likely to be engaged, productive and motivated.

And while many millennial workers are perennial job-hoppers, if you can get them engaged early in their careers, you’re more likely to earn their loyalty in the years to come. And in that time, who knows what good they can do for you and your business?

Flexibility is key

What do your employees want the most? More money? A nicer social area? Bonuses? Stock options? You might be surprised to learn that one of the things workers value most in an employer is actually something that you can give freely right now. Something that can make your workers happier, healthier, more alert and more engaged without any overhead cost.


Your employees have lives outside of work, and the better able you are to accommodate them, the more appealing you are to top tier talent. In a 2018 pay and benefits survey by Quickbooks, a substantial 76% of employees surveyed stated that a flexible schedule was the most attractive benefit an employer could offer.

There are many ways in which you can make your workplace more conducive to flexibility with a little forward planning and open collaboration with your workforce. Allowing employees to earn flexitime is a great way to start, as is allowing employees to come in a little early or late to drop kids off at school or pick them up… or simply go to the gym or a bike ride in the morning. While you may have to wait a little while for your employees, you’re likely to find that they are happier and more energised when they arrive at their desk, making up for the wait in productivity.

In the digital era, remote working is an increasingly realistic prospect for many workers. This can be invaluable in helping them to manage their work commitments alongside looking after their kids, or caring for a sick or elderly relative, to name a few examples.

It can even help you to reduce your overhead costs. The fewer employees there are on the premises, the less you’ll have to spend on lighting, heating, water etc.

Embracing the power of feedback

Feedback is a two-way street. Employees expect their employers to let them know in no uncertain terms how they’re performing and what they can do to improve. Nobody likes to feel out of their depth, and providing regular feedback can help employees to feel more empowered and engaged. They’re more likely to feel valued and as though their employers are taking an active interest in their ongoing professional development.

Despite this, however, a 2018 study by The Predictive Index demonstrated that while employees generally enjoy and appreciate feedback, around 44% of managers actually give their employees little to no feedback. Managers need to ensure they’re doing more to give their employees constructive feedback.

Great employers understand the importance of both giving and receiving feedback. They understand that while it’s necessary to keep employees in the loop, it’s equally important to provide them with a forum to give feedback of their own. Employees’ insights can play a vital role in informing and shaping your ongoing strategy. There are many ways in which you can do this — from a dedicated space in your intranet to an employee recognition platform (more on those shortly), or even something as simple as a suggestion box.

Getting the best out of your employees with professional development
When employees are only trained at the point of onboarding and given no further ongoing professional development, it’s unlikely that you can expect optimum engagement from them. Training can be costly and it can disrupt your operations. With that in mind, it’s understandable why some employers might never be able to find the time for it.

However, if you neglect employee training and ongoing development after the onboarding period is over, you may be much more likely to struggle with employee retention. And when you lose employees, you’ll find that replacing them is much more disruptive and expensive than providing a personalised regimen of employee training.

Continuous professional development helps employees to feel more empowered and capable, ensuring that they’ll be more engaged and enjoy greater job satisfaction.

So you can get the best out of them in every way.

Recognition over reward

Many employers assume that the best way to motivate and incentivise their workforce is by providing cash incentives, bonuses, gift certificates and other rewards. And while these can be a useful way to show your appreciation every now and then, employees actually value recognition over trinkets.

Employee recognition is a broad church. It can involve anything from a casual but sincere “thank you” in the break room to sending out circulatory emails congratulating employees on special accomplishments.

Employee recognition programmes are a great way to motivate your workforce and ensure engagement. And there are a wealth of tools at your disposal to assist in this. For example, there are employee recognition platforms that look and function in all the same ways as the social media platforms employees use in day-to-day life. But rather than providing a distraction, they can actively drive employee engagement whilst reinforcing company values.

Employers can congratulate employees and share their achievements with the entire workforce. Employees can congratulate each other, nominate one another for awards, and like and comment on each others’ posts. They’re a great addition to your own workplace devices or your employees’ devices on Bring Your Own Device Days. This can help create a culture of appreciation that motivates the workplace as a whole and makes employees feel valued.

However you choose to approach employee engagement, a culture of recognition is something that must be permeated throughout the business as a whole — from top to bottom. You can’t expect to get the most out of your workplace without it.