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10 Employee Engagement Trends for 2020

Employee engagement trend 2020

New employ­ee engage­ment trends emerge every year — what can we do in 2020 to engage employ­ees and main­tain great lev­els of performance?

The New Year is a fresh start for us all — it presents an oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to reeval­u­ate. We can look back on pre­vi­ous years and put our com­pa­nies under the micro­scope. What steps have we made to gen­uine­ly improve employ­ee engage­ment? How engaged are our employ­ees? What can we do dif­fer­ent­ly and what organ­i­sa­tion­al strate­gies can we use to make a mean­ing­ful dif­fer­ence to our workforce?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen some great strides in our under­stand­ing of employ­ee engage­ment. As each year pass­es, we learn more and we tweak our strate­gies to (hope­ful­ly) get the best results. But what does 2020 have in store? Below, we explore 10 employ­ee engage­ment trends that will dom­i­nate 2020.

It’s also worth dis­cussing and explor­ing road­blocks to employ­ee engage­ment with­in your organ­i­sa­tion. Check out our 10 bar­ri­ers to employ­ee engage­ment.

1. Com­pa­nies Will Look to Tech­nol­o­gy to Improve Employ­ee Engage­ment Levels

There are sev­er­al employ­ee engage­ment strate­gies com­pa­nies can put in place, facil­i­tat­ed with the use of effec­tive employ­ee engage­ment soft­ware. Tech­nol­o­gy can be used to gath­er employ­ee feed­back, cre­ate a safe space for employ­ees to share their ideas or con­cerns while enabling employ­ees to self-reflect. 

Employ­ee engage­ment ini­tia­tives have, his­tor­i­cal­ly, tin­kered at the edges of the expe­ri­ence with­out tack­ling the prob­lem of work engage­ment. Research has proved, time and again, that the fac­tors which best improve engage­ment are all linked direct­ly to the jobs that peo­ple do. That might sound obvi­ous, but engage­ment ini­tia­tives are often geared towards improv­ing the expe­ri­ence of being in the work­place: for exam­ple, bet­ter cof­fee or fruit, well­be­ing ini­tia­tives like mas­sage and exer­cise or social events. The right tech­nol­o­gy allied to the right ques­tions can uncov­er issues that direct­ly affect the flow of work: pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ships, for exam­ple, or the right resources to enable some­one to do their job more effectively. 

As we move into 2020, com­pa­nies will begin to assess the qual­i­ty of their soft­ware and deter­mine whether it is well-suit­ed to improve engage­ment, enhance com­mu­ni­ca­tion and fur­ther their organ­i­sa­tion­al objectives.

2. An Increased Focus on Employ­ee Recognition

This year, Deloitte pub­lished a sur­vey that can­vassed the opin­ions of over 16,000 indi­vid­u­als. The survey’s find­ings revealed the impor­tance of employ­ee recog­ni­tion. It showed that three-quar­ters of employ­ees are hap­py to receive a sim­ple thank you” for their dai­ly efforts, as opposed to a mon­e­tary reward, a cel­e­bra­tion or a gift. The sur­vey went on to explore how employ­ee recog­ni­tion is asso­ci­at­ed with increased lev­els of engage­ment and low­er rates of turnover. Recog­ni­tion makes the work envi­ron­ment more pos­i­tive and encour­ages every­one to be more productive. 

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, employ­ees aren’t get­ting the recog­ni­tion they deserve, with only one-third receiv­ing recog­ni­tion when they went the extra mile for work and only one-quar­ter feel­ing high­ly val­ued at work.

This sit­u­a­tion is some­thing we need to address in 2020, with pro­gres­sive com­pa­nies lead­ing the charge and reap­ing the rewards. There are a num­ber of employ­ee recog­ni­tion ideas you can imple­ment today. Remem­ber, they don’t need to be high-cost to be effec­tive. Man­agers just need to remem­ber to be mind­ful of dis­cre­tionary effort and acknowl­edge it when they see it.

3. Per­son­alised Reten­tion Methods

It can be dif­fi­cult to engage and retain employ­ees, par­tic­u­lar­ly when you are deal­ing with a multi­gen­er­a­tional work­force. How­ev­er, employ­ee engage­ment meth­ods need to be high on your pri­or­i­ty list. With unem­ploy­ment at its low­est rate in decades and with the war for tal­ent a press­ing issue for employ­ers, com­pa­nies need to go above and beyond to retain the top per­form­ers they have.

Reten­tion meth­ods need to be per­son­alised to your com­pa­ny and your employ­ees. The first step is to find out what engages and moti­vates your employ­ees and then act on it. Are they look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties for advance­ment? Are they moti­vat­ed by perks such as trav­el incen­tives or bonus­es, or are their moti­va­tors more intrin­sic? Begin by car­ry­ing out employ­ee sur­veys to get to the bot­tom of what your employ­ees want. Once you are armed with that infor­ma­tion, you can go about improv­ing your engage­ment lev­els and employ­ee reten­tion rates in 2020.

4. Employ­ee Engage­ment Sur­veys Will Become More Commonplace

As we move into 2020, employ­ee lis­ten­ing strate­gies will become increas­ing­ly impor­tant. Employ­ees want to be heard — they need to have a voice — and man­agers should be there to lis­ten. Com­pa­nies can huge­ly ben­e­fit from employ­ee insight. It can result in increased effi­cien­cy, height­ened lev­els of employ­ee engage­ment and improved morale. One lis­ten­ing strat­e­gy that can yield great results is the employ­ee survey.

With employ­ee engage­ment sur­veys, com­pa­nies can focus on one par­tic­u­lar issue, can­vas opin­ion anony­mous­ly and set about improv­ing sys­tems and process­es with­in an organ­i­sa­tion to enhance the employ­ee expe­ri­ence. Employ­ee sur­veys can cov­er all aspects of the employee’s inter­ac­tion with your com­pa­ny — but it’s rec­om­mend­ed to stick to one issue at a time, to focus on indi­vid­u­als and to dive deep into core concerns. 

Impor­tant­ly, busi­ness lead­ers need to take action fol­low­ing employ­ee sur­veys. Employ­ees will quick­ly tire of employ­ee sur­veys if they realise noth­ing ever changes or improves as a result. There’s no sense in wast­ing time and effort ask­ing employ­ees for their opin­ions and get­ting them invest­ed in the idea of change only to stag­nate and refuse to adapt.

At Clear Review, we rec­om­mend com­ple­ment­ing employ­ee sur­veys with con­tin­u­ous feed­back. These one-on-ones allow man­agers to dis­cuss change about to take place. It also gives employ­ee and man­ag­er the chance to exchange thoughts and feed­back about these changes, allow­ing for increased engage­ment and buy-in.

5. To Retain and Engage Employ­ees, Pro­fes­sion­al Devel­op­ment Will Have to Be Prioritised

If you’ve recruit­ed well, you will have hired ambi­tious, moti­vat­ed employ­ees who are pas­sion­ate about their work. If you’re run­ning your com­pa­ny well, they will be engaged and invest­ed in the suc­cess of your com­pa­ny. This means they will want to learn more, they will want to advance and they will want to do so with you. So in 2020, your com­pa­ny will need to address oppor­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment for your employ­ees. What do they have to look for­ward to? Are they at a dead end, or do they have a clear path to pro­gres­sion? Do they know exact­ly what is required of them to move up?

When promis­ing employ­ees feel they have avenues for advance­ment, they will become quick­ly dis­il­lu­sioned and dis­en­gaged, which increas­es the like­li­hood of them look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties else­where. Don’t let your com­pa­ny fall into this trap.

6. Com­pa­nies Will Focus on High­light­ing and Com­mu­ni­cat­ing Their Purpose

This year, it was revealed that Mil­len­ni­als want to work for pur­pose-dri­ven com­pa­nies. They want to know what their com­pa­ny stands for, to under­stand its val­ues and to feel aligned with over­all pur­pose. And it needs to be a pur­pose worth hav­ing. Social respon­si­bil­i­ty is a huge con­cern for mod­ern employ­ees, with 75% of Mil­len­ni­als say­ing they would take a pay cut to work for a social­ly respon­si­ble com­pa­ny.

2020 is the year to dis­cuss your com­pa­ny pur­pose — if you don’t have a clear idea of what it is and if you can’t artic­u­late it suc­cinct­ly in one sen­tence, your employ­ees aren’t like­ly to under­stand it or feel aligned with it, either. Get back to basics and ques­tion what your com­pa­ny is dri­ven by, what it wants to achieve and how it intends to achieve these goals. From there, your com­pa­ny can begin com­mu­ni­cat­ing its pur­pose and moti­vat­ing and engag­ing your employ­ees as a result.

7. Com­pa­nies Will Learn to Man­age an Alter­na­tive Workforce

It has recent­ly been revealed that the Gig econ­o­my in Britain has dou­bled, account­ing for near­ly 5 mil­lion work­ers. This news speaks to the mod­ern employee’s desire for auton­o­my and flex­i­bil­i­ty. They want to work on their own terms, at times that suit them. This doesn’t mean they want to slack off — they want to work hard, but they don’t want to feel tied down or restrict­ed in a way that makes them feel less moti­vat­ed or engaged.

Over recent years, work­place flex­i­bil­i­ty has become a real focus for com­pa­nies. As we move into 2020, com­pa­nies will need to make gen­uine efforts to deal with the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of what this means for their process­es. They need to embrace alter­na­tive work­ers — con­tract work­ers, free­lance work­ers and gig work­ers — and explore how these employ­ees will man­age in their organ­i­sa­tion. What changes need to be made to accom­mo­date and engage them?

In par­tic­u­lar, com­pa­nies need to fig­ure out how to keep alter­na­tive work­ers involved. When you have a mix­ture of in-house and off-site employ­ees, the ones who aren’t there day-to-day can some­times get over­looked. Com­pa­nies must look at how their per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tems can be tai­lored to accom­mo­date alter­na­tive work­ers, how they can stream­line com­mu­ni­ca­tion and how recog­ni­tion pro­grammes can be intro­duced to ensure they are engaged and motivated.

8. Com­pas­sion­ate Lead­ers Will Earn Loyalty

As the years go by, our idea of a great leader evolves. Gone are the days of the intim­i­dat­ing, author­i­ta­tive leader. This isn’t the type of leader who will engage or moti­vate mod­ern employ­ees. Accord­ing to Doc­tor Brad Shuck and Maryanne Hon­ey­cutt-Elliott, the mod­ern leader needs to be compassionate:

[…]High­er lev­els of engage­ment comes from employ­ees who work for a com­pas­sion­ate leader.”

Employ­ees want lead­ers who can sym­pa­thise and dis­cuss con­cerns. They want lead­ers to sup­port them, cre­ate a safe envi­ron­ment to address griev­ances while offer­ing tools, sug­ges­tions and resources in their time of need. Com­pas­sion­ate lead­ers need to pri­ori­tise fre­quent, authen­tic com­mu­ni­ca­tion, be reli­able and lev­el-head­ed — and empathetic.

Accord­ing to Forbes:

More and more com­pa­nies find that ade­quate­ly engag­ing employ­ees through fos­ter­ing emo­tion­al con­nec­tion results in stronger ties, high­er loy­al­ty and over­all bet­ter prof­its. Con­nect­ing with employ­ees’ unique tal­ents and skills helps cre­ate a net­work of engaged and cre­ative peo­ple who feel secure and pos­i­tive emo­tions about the way they make a living.”

When it comes to employ­ee engage­ment and lead­er­ship in 2020, what we need to remem­ber is employ­ees rarely leave a job — they leave a boss.

9. An Increased Sen­si­tiv­i­ty to Employ­ee Burnout (through Employ­ee Well­ness Efforts)

In 2019, we saw the World Health Organ­i­sa­tion (WHO) declare work­place burnout an occu­pa­tion­al phe­nom­e­non” that may war­rant med­ical atten­tion. Although it is not clas­si­fied as a dis­ease or a med­ical con­di­tion, it is now a well-defined syn­drome that occurs through expe­ri­enc­ing chron­ic work­place stress (and not man­ag­ing it well). 

Accord­ing to the WHO, burnout has three characteristics:

  1. Deplet­ed ener­gy or exhaustion
  2. Increased men­tal dis­tance from one’s job (some­thing we would recog­nise as dis­en­gage­ment) or cyn­i­cism or neg­a­tiv­i­ty about one’s job
  3. Reduced pro­fes­sion­al efficacy

The WHO’s acknowl­edge­ment of the prob­lem of burnout has brought the issue renewed atten­tion. In 2019, we learned 70% of employ­ees claimed their health was affect­ed by work­place stress. A fur­ther 41% have been absent from work due to stress. Com­pa­nies are wak­ing up to the fact that to engage employ­ees at work, they need to make sure they aren’t over­do­ing it and they aren’t burn­ing out.

Com­pa­nies can address employ­ee burnout in a num­ber of ways. We imag­ine the fol­low­ing becom­ing more com­mon in 2020:

  • Holis­tic health and well­be­ing strategies
  • Dis­cus­sions between man­ag­er and employ­ee con­cern­ing work­load, real­is­tic objec­tives and overworking
  • A stricter pol­i­cy dic­tat­ing employ­ees take their annu­al leave and that they lim­it their work­ing hours each week
  • Work­place flex­i­bil­i­ty, to make employ­ee work­loads and work demands more manageable
  • A review of salaries to ensure employ­ees are com­pen­sat­ed fair­ly and competitively.

Although fair wages won’t pre­vent burnout, it’s known that finan­cial wor­ries are top con­cerns for 94% of employ­ees. Inad­e­quate salaries result in employ­ees feel­ing an imbal­ance between the stress­es of the job and the rewards.

10. Work-Life Inte­gra­tion Will Over­take Work-Life Balance

There has been a lot of dis­cus­sion around work-life bal­ance late­ly, but not as much con­ver­sa­tion about work-life inte­gra­tion. We pre­dict this will change in 2020, as employ­ers wake up to the fact that employ­ees don’t want a strict, unyield­ing bar­ri­er between home and work — they want to inte­grate the two. If they decide to check social media at work or leave the office for a quick cof­fee with a friend, they want the free­dom to do so. Equal­ly, they want the oppor­tu­ni­ty to check work emails after tra­di­tion­al office hours, per­haps when work is on their mind and they are more moti­vat­ed to get their tasks done.

Are you look­ing for employ­ee engage­ment soft­ware to boost lev­els with­in your com­pa­ny? Clear Review has helped hun­dreds of com­pa­nies gain a real pic­ture of where they stand with their employ­ees and what they are work­ing towards. To find out more, request an employ­ee engage­ment soft­ware demo today. If you’d like to know more about how we’re trans­form­ing engage­ment in the work­place, read our new eBook.