4 Trends to Consider When Building Your Employee Engagement Strategy

"Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."  Ferris Bueller was right. Life does move fast, and the only constant in talent management is change.  In the Information Age, a multi-generational workforce and the speed at which technology transforms work provides a challenging landscape for managers, HR teams, and senior leadership.

Throughout my experience in the human capital management industry, I’ve found that employers want to invest time and resources in employee engagement, however, they don’t know where to start and lack the appropriate tools to execute an employee engagement strategy. I recommend looking at employee engagement as an ongoing process, not a one-time project. By taking an iterative approach to engagement, you’re more likely to learn what works for your team, and capitalize on your success. If you’re ready to start managing your human capital more effectively, request a demo of Structural today. 

In the meantime, I’ve outlined a few of the trends that are worth considering as your work on employee engagement:

1. Recognition should be part of your employee engagement strategy.

According to a study by Gallup, only one in three workers in the US strongly agree that they have received praise or recognition for good work done in the past seven days.  More troubling yet, employees who are not recognized are twice as likely to say they will quit in the next year. Lack of employee recognition for employees may lead to a decrease in employee engagement and an eventual increase in employee turnover.

That same study revealed that money was not the most preferred form of recognition, contrary to conventional thinking.  The important conclusion is that the context in which an employee would like to be recognized varies and understanding each employee's motivation is the foundation to a great recognition strategy. Be relevant in your recognition. Don’t give a coffee gift card to someone who doesn’t like coffee.

The benefit of employee recognition is two-fold:  Taking notice of an employee’s great work increases employee engagement producing more productivity, while at the same time reducing the chance that the employee leaves the company, or worse yet, quits and stays. 

2. Frequent and more direct performance reviews increase employee engagement.

A study on employee performance found that clarity of expectations is one of the most basic needs of employees and also integral to employee performance. In the Information Age dominated by a generation accustomed to instant access, the stale annual performance review is not enough.

Employees want immediate feedback on their work as well as an active voice in clarifying and giving their own input.  This trend suggests a need for new technology that allows for better polling and quick, simple feedback tools that allow employees and managers to have an active role in discussing performance and outcomes. Implementing modernized performance reviews should be a part of your employee engagement strategy.

3. Use the data that drives HR management in your employee engagement strategy.

We are just starting to learn how to leverage the “big data” sets that have been built throughout years of data collection.  Marketers have been leveraging consumer data for years, but little has been done to benefit from the rich data sets that exist from employees.  Human Resources Today contends that harnessing the power of people analytics will be one of the top trends in HR in 2017.

The problem with managing without data is that what you value as a manager is likely different from what your employees value.  Great employee engagement will mean that managers will need to consider a diverse set of data to understand employee expectations and help them reach their potential. That data may include factors like background, personality, interests, education, experience, and past performance.

4. There is employee engagement opportunity beyond Millennials.

Everyone has grown mildly sick of hearing all of the focus on how to engage, manage, and interact with Millennials.  Millennials may have a slightly nuanced outlook on work, however, they share the same characteristics of human nature with all generations.  Everyone wants to know their work matters and wants recognition for a job well done, so these basic principles should be a part of everyone’s employee engagement strategy.

By focusing only on Millennial strategy, other generations may be neglected in your employee engagement strategy. According to a study done by Robert Half, “one in six British workers over age 35 said they were unhappy—more than double the number for those under 35. Nearly a third of people over 55 said they didn’t feel appreciated, while 16 percent said they didn’t have friends at work.” With Generation Z’s entrance into the workplace looming, the most effective engagement strategies will be those that provide universal satisfaction to all employees.

The future of employee engagement will be a quicker, more data driven, tailored approach of recognizing your employee’s efforts. These things will not only become the goal but will become the norm as the top workplaces set the standard and will benefit in retaining the best talent. If you’re working on rolling out an employee engagement strategy, or improving the way you currently engage with your team, we’d love to hear how we can help. Request a demo of our human capital management software today.

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