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The Future of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement can be a critical tool in helping organisations to respond rapidly to moving business environments, as well as playing a key role in growth and sustainability.

During the 70s and 80s businesses tended to focus on employee satisfaction, but by the time the noughties had arrived, the concept of employee engagement was born and growing. This was mainly due to a shift in the previous tradition of a life-long job and businesses realising they were losing people who moved from job to job, acquiring new skills, with no loyalty to their employer.

Since then, employee engagement has grown and is now seen as something that is not just owned by HR but driven by leaders and owned by ‘everyone’. As the workforce becomes more diverse and new technology continues to emerge, employee engagement has to evolve.

What is good employee engagement?

Good leaders will understand that positive employee engagement improves recruitment and employee retention, increases productivity and will ultimately drive better outcomes for your customers.

Despite this, Gallup reports that the rate of employee engagement has steadied around 32 percent for more than a decade, even though employers together are investing more than $720 million a year on employee engagement.

Acas, a UK based Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, state there are four key points to good employee engagement:

  • Leaders with a vision who value how individuals contribute
  • Line managers who empower rather than control their staff
  • Values that are lived and not just spoken, leading to a sense of trust and integrity
  • Employees who have the chance to voice their views and concerns.

Relationships are not built overnight, and it takes time to listen. The knowledge, experience and skills of your workforce will be invaluable, and they will be able to provide a different perspective, as well as first-hand knowledge of working with customers.

A one-size fits all approach may be a quick win, but it is not going to personalise the employee experience. A personalised employee journey, from the very beginning, will ensure employees do not feel as though they are another brick in the wall, and will feel more willing to positively engage.

Future trends in employee engagement

It looks as though employee engagement may make more of a shift to ‘employee experience’, not indifferent to a customer expecting a personalised journey when they purchase goods or use a service. Digitisation and the availability of data make it possible to truly analyse the effectiveness of employee engagement, as well being able to identify the demographic profiles of a workforce. Harvard Business Review has identified big data as the next management revolution.

Engagement should be at the centre of everything an organisation does, and this includes making an effort to have a stronger connection at the time of hiring. Prospective employees want to feel valued from their very first connection with an employer, and the timeliness of this interaction is key, continuing right through their employment journey.

Role clarity is another area that is expected to become ever more important for employees. As part of their employee experience, individuals want to be clear of what is expected of them and how they fit into the wider organisational picture. Understanding how their personal work goals are aligned to organisational goals will undoubtedly impact on their overall employee performance.

How you communicate with your workforce will continue to have its importance, but there will be more of a focus on transparency of information. Technology enables employers to communicate quickly and effectively with the workforce, even on a global scale. Whether it is good or bad information, your workforce is at the heart of what you do and will want to hear that news first.

There may also be an increased link between engagement and the health and wellbeing of staff. A workforce that is feeling happy and healthy is more likely to be motivated and productive, so there is no surprise that the two go hand in hand.

Mohit Misra, VP Global Head of Talent Management Acquisition, OD and Diversity at The Chemours Company, talks about the link between organisational health and employee engagement in his podcast with us.

Summary of the future of employee engagement

Employee engagement is well and truly embedded and organisations across the globe will have a strategy or process to manage it. It seems that improvements can still be made, and for employee engagement to be truly successful, employers need to listen, analyse and personalise.

It looks like there could be a shift from engagement to experience, and employees will expect a truly personalised employee journey, from first point of contact right through to their continued employment.

As technology improves, so will the expectation of these employees and how they are engaged with. Employers will have to continue to compete with other organisations to ensure they are offering the best working experience to retain a quality workforce.

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