One of the leading reasons for employees not performing to the best of their abilities is the lack of feeling engaged. And this seemingly small thing is what you as an employer needs to get rid of. If you cannot get rid of it completely, you must at least try to reduce it to a large extent. Apart from performance, disengaged employees can also impact other employees or extreme cases, decide to leave the organization.

Should organizations feel that their employees are not highly engaged, the problem can be addressed by certain employee engagement practices. Following some of these will help you address the issue of employee engagement. And if done properly, it can boost the satisfaction of employees, reduce the attrition rate and improve employee retention, boost the productivity of employees, increase the loyalty in employees, etc.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is the emotional connect that an employee has with their organization. Having an emotional connection means that they actually care for the organization, its goals, and its work. Proper employee engagement ensures that your employees do not just work for their paychecks, next hike, promotion, etc. They put in the effort because they understand the organization’s goals and work towards it.

While it is important to understand employee engagement, it is even more crucial to know what employee engagement isn’t. Employee engagement certainly isn’t the happiness of an employee. An employee could be happy but not work diligently towards an organization’s goals. To bridge this gap with your employees, you can partake in employee engagement activities. However, it is important to know employee engagement trends.

Being aware of employee engagement trends will help you better understand the issues and take precautionary steps. These employee engagement trends also ensure that you do not waste your energy on activities that no longer engage your employees.

Understanding Workplace Demographics

Before you can get down to identifying and resolving employee engagement related issues, knowing your company’s demographics is important as well. Going forward, it is expected that employees will stay longer at a workplace rather than constantly changing companies. There is a good possibility that you will have to handle employees from different generations at the same time.

Another factor that will become mainstream for the coming year is virtual workplaces and globalization. This will result in more flow of employees around. Adding to the mix is cultural diversity, which you will have to rethink completely to accommodate a wider set of values than they currently have. Collectively these make sure that the trends of previous years are no longer valid or need to be updated with time.

Top 13 Employee Engagement Trends for 2020

The employee engagement trends for 2020 seek to address upcoming technologies and how the workplace will get affected accordingly. Implementing a few of these will help you cope up with the changes while ensuring that your employees are well engaged.

1. Promote a healthy workplace for employees with wellness programs

There are a lot of things that are not in the right place when it comes to the wellness of employees in the workplace. Employees are usually exhausted due to stress at work or isolation from the social world. And it is no secret that employees who are worn out will always find themselves distant from engagement. Finding out a way to incorporate wellness at the workplace apart from the usual fitness classes and gym membership is an interesting challenge for employers.

An ideal way to handle this situation would be to take into consideration mental wellness, emotional wellness and if possible, even financial wellness, along with physical wellness. It is important to educate your employees about mental wellness and the support that they can get. A few employers are experimenting with sick leaves for mental well-being. Financial wellness is a concern that quite a few employees have. Apart from only providing with education, helping your employees in financially wise decisions can immensely help their engagement levels.

Know more: Role of HR in employee wellness

2. Provide opportunities for employees to grow and develop professionally

The presence of various resources these days makes it easy to help employees to learn and develop their skill set. Providing employees with the tool to help them be ready for future aids in employee engagement. Engaged employees usually have a strong affinity towards improving themselves and learning new things. Failing to offer them similar opportunities will lead to stagnation.

In fact, a survey done by LinkedIn shows that 44% of employees joined new employers for better personal advancement and development prospects. There are several on-demand learning portals or opportunities. Providing your employees with such exposure will help in employee engagement. Yes, there is a cost involved in the same. However, it is an investment that will pay off in terms of better reciprocation from your employees. Even more so when you consider that a company spends as much as 21% of an employees’ salary to find a replacement.

3. Letting Artificial Intelligence do the boring work

It is not mandatory for you as an organisation to embrace every bit of technology that is out there in the market. However, some of them can help you in the process of improving engagement among employees. On the mention of Artificial Intelligence, people usually think about losing jobs. That is not the case. As an organisation, you can incorporate AI to cover some of the most boring and redundant work. This will free up your employees to do more creative work and push their talent limits. Alternatively, they are less likely to get bored and demotivated, since they no longer have to do the boring stuff.

4. Appoint compassionate people as leaders for better health of your organization

Employees across the globe feel that the lack of good leadership in an organization is good enough reason for them to quit. Thus, hiring or promoting leaders who are compassionate and inspiring is one of the employee engagement trends for 2020. A leader who listens is authentic and leads by example has a much higher chance of imbibing your shift towards better engagement for employees.

Leaders or managers who show empathy towards their employees and have a sense of dignity when it comes to commitment are more likely to inspire employees. If your organization has such leaders, it is about time you recognize them and promote them with better responsibilities. Needless to say, the lack of such employees can have a negative impact as well.

You might like to read: EQ – The need of the hour for leaders

5. Better employee experience makes way for more engaged employees

User experience has garnered a lot of attention in recent years and for good reasons. Customers and clients no longer just want a product but also expect a good user experience. According to an article in Forbes, if the cost of fixing an issue is $1 during the design phase, it is $10 during development and $100 once it is released.

We can use a similar thought process for employees as well. Surveys show that about 60% of candidates have a poor experience with companies. As an organization, you would need to put in efforts to enhance employee experience for better engagement. This goes beyond the usual benefits or compensation that you offer to your employees. Listening to your employees frequently via surveys will help you address this. You can get an insight into what the employees like and what they would like to see in the organization.

6. Understanding millennial’s holds key to long association with an organization

Millennials will constitute a vast majority of the workforce in the coming decade. It is only natural that you understand this demographic to make the most of it. A few years ago, companies felt the addition of games in office premises, monthly lunches, etc. were enough to keep millennials engaged. However, that’s not the case. While such instances are helpful, as an employer you should be able to offer them something more meaningful to keep them engaged for the long-term.

You might want to read: Hiring millenials in India

One of the factors that instantly attracts millennials towards organizations is flexibility. Whether it is working duration, office timings, working remotely, etc. These things provide them with a sense of belonging and it can fuel engagement as well. Another crucial factor that can help you get the attention of millennials is a good working culture. A culture that practices open-door policies for management, opportunities to collaborate with other teams is more likely to keep a millennial happy and engaged.

Read more about: Why are millenials important and how to motivate them?

7. Frequent feedback aid in enhanced policies

A common mistake that most companies commit is to wait for the year-end appraisal meetings to give feedback. This feedback can be counterproductive. It gives employees a feeling that the feedback was only for year-end appraisal and might not even have an impact. Giving someone feedback merely takes a few minutes and if done during the year can be more effective.

The lack of a proper feedback channel or regular feedback can bring in a lot of discord and disconnect that the employees feel. Giving them feedback at the end of the year and associating it with monetary benefits leaves them feeling confused. Timely feedback will help your employees work on shortcomings and gaps. This also brings in a sense of belonging and keep them engaged with their profiles. This is one of the leading employee engagement trends for 2020. It will not happen overnight or over one or two instances. But you need to initiate it and ensure that it is followed consistently.

8. Use technology as a tool to improve engagement in employees

Knowingly or unknowingly we are surrounded by technology. The moment we set out of the home, till returning to bed we engage with technology at so many levels. As an organization, you can leverage technology for your benefit. Companies are now embracing the idea of online recognition tools for their employees. This seemingly simple idea helps employees appreciate each other and in turn, increases their engagement in the organization.

This allows employees to share their accomplishments, achievements and create a bond with other employees as well. The usage of good messaging apps also improves communication among employees. These apps allow employees to engage with each other and work collaboratively, irrespective of their location. When you assess engagement barriers in your organization, there are chances that it might be resolved with technology.

9. Improve employee’s productivity by striking a balance between work and life

Work-life balance has been on employee engagement trend for quite some time but never gets old. And there are strong reasons for the same. Offering employees, the flexibility to work at their convenience, at times even without coming to the office can boost the engagement levels to a great extent. Sticking to strict office timings might not be the most effective mode of working for several employees as well.

It is essential that as an organization you incorporate flexibility as and where possible so that employees are not burned out. Estimates show that burned out employee cost $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare expenses. Once employees get a better sense of work-life balance they are more likely to be engaged and be more productive.

Good read: How to improve work life balance in your company?

10. Incorporate analytics for enhanced predictions and getting rid of bottlenecks

In a bid to make something for customers, employees use a lot of tools and thereby generate a lot of data. A rising employee engagement trend is to make use of the data generated by employees. Companies are coming up with tools to help HR understand certain fundamental issues and even help them resolve the same. The data at hand along with a good analytics tool can help you identify bottlenecks when it comes to employee engagement.

Whether it is instant polls, tools for collaboration, specialized data can help you analyze different aspects and work on them to improve employee engagement. You can even predict the future behaviour of employees using these tools. There are bound to be some noises with a huge amount of data at hand. The major challenge in all this is fine tuning the findings and to identify the actual issues.

11. Innovation via upcoming technologies

Companies are embracing newer technologies for more integrated products and experiences for their customers. One prime example is IoT or Internet of Things. The simple concept connects everyday objects with each other and lets them identify similar other objects as well. IoT is being used at various levels including, GPS or RFID for tracking and monitoring shipments, assets or even properties. Ability to rent vehicles remotely without any human intervention is another such example.

12. Incorporate a culture of recognition and rewards

This is one of the simpler and more common employee engagement trends for the coming year. Employee recognition acknowledges the efforts that employees put in openly, to inculcate a growth culture. If you do not already have a recognition and rewards system, it is about time that you start with one. And for companies that already have a system in place, it might be worthwhile revisiting them.

Recognizing and rewarding your employees is one of the most powerful ways of ensuring employee engagement. There are enough surveys and statistics to prove that employees that are recognized, are more likely to feel highly engaged. Organizations across the globe have seen better productivity, boosted morale, and a lower turnover of employees. However, the recognition program must be consistent and visible to others. While recognition and rewards are two different concepts altogether, clubbing them together can multiply the benefits. There are few reports which suggest that employees who receive rewards such as monetary benefits or redeemable points are more engaged than employees who receive bonus yearly once. In fact, the engagement level is pegged at a staggering 8 times.

Do read: Employee rewards and recognition

13. Inculcating a culture of diversity for a growth environment

Another important employee engagement trend comes in the form of diversity in the workplace. Companies that have diverse teams as well as inclusive teams, will find their employees to be more engaged. Diversity in this case predominantly refers to employees from different backgrounds. And inclusion refers to better employee experience at the workplace along with the environment that they have access to.

You can start by introducing bias-free practices in hiring of employees. Other practices include better parental leaves, equal pay among employees and even exposing employees to un-bias training sessions. It is important to inculcate these into the culture of your organization. Employees get a sense of equality, belonging, psychologically safe and most importantly engaged. Once your employees feel comfortable in the culture and environment that you have created, they can expressive, innovative and happier.

Must read: How to build an everlasting company culture?

In conclusion…

To sum it up, engaged employees are more likely to work towards the organizational goals than mere pay checks. Engaged employees are known to be more productive and increase the profitability of an organization. In fact, some reports even suggest that the chances of engaged employees not turning up for work. Engagement brings in a sense of belonging towards the company along with better employee loyalty also.

There are several surveys and tools which can help you identify the level of employee engagement in your organization. Once you identify that the next obvious step is to look for solutions. To fix any issues related to engagement is a bit more difficult than usual business-related problems. However, they can still be solved. You can take the help of the above employee engagement trends and implement techniques that work for your organization. With a bit of perseverance, initial costs and consistency, you will be able to increase the engagement among employees. And once you do, you can reap the benefits of all the efforts that you had to put in the first place.

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