10 Employee Engagement Trends to Watch in 2024 (+ Tips)
We are at an interesting point in human history where AI seems to have evolved to a higher state — not high enough for a robot uprising — but enough to make a lot of generic skills redundant.
Generative AI is quickly transforming all aspects of work, and employee engagement is not immune to its effects. That being said, engagement is inherently a human concept. Employee engagement is closely tied to how the employer treats the employee and how the employee feels about their job and their employer.
While machines can help you make better decisions about improving employee engagement, organizational leaders want to stay updated with the latest trends to better understand the needs (and expectations) of their employees.
We identified 10 trends that will shape the world of employee engagement in the days to come. Here’s why we think these trends will be popular and how you can use this knowledge to improve employee engagement at your organization.
1. Hybrid work will continue to evolve
Employees want to work remotely and employers want them to return to the office. In this game of tug of war between employees and employers, HR leaders will have to find a creative middle ground to keep both parties happy. As a result, hybrid work models will continue to evolve, with companies refining policies and technology to optimize the balance between remote and in-office work.
Wondering why we are calling it a tug of war? Just look at these numbers:
- 98% of remote workers would love to continue working remotely, and would recommend remote work to others. Meanwhile, 90% of companies plan to return to office by the end of 2024.
- 28% of employers would threaten to fire employees if they do not want to return to office. 39% of employees would quit if forced to return to the office.
The numbers clearly show that employers want to go back to the pre-COVID-19 era as soon as possible, while employees don’t want to. Hybrid work provides the perfect middle ground as it combines the flexibility of remote work with the benefits of in-office collaboration, striking a balance that allows employees to work from different locations while maintaining essential face-to-face interactions.
Gartner predicts that up to 39% of global knowledge workers will work hybrid by the end of 2023. We believe that the hybrid model is here to stay for the near future. Here are some ways you can create an engaging hybrid work environment that will lead to higher employee engagement:
- Tailor your hybrid work policy to fit your organization’s unique needs. It doesn’t have to follow a template used by other organizations. Involve your employees in the decision-making process for hybrid work policies.
- Give employees the flexibility to choose their workdays in the office. Flexibility is the biggest benefit of remote work – give them the same in a hybrid work environment and enjoy higher engagement.
- Establish clear performance metrics and expectations for remote and in-office employees, emphasizing results over hours worked or location.
- Train managers to effectively lead remote and in-office teams, emphasizing empathy, communication, and performance management.
In addition to the above, assess the effectiveness of your hybrid model continuously through feedback loops. Change your policies as needed to maximize engagement and productivity.
2. More organizations will use mentorship programs for skill development
The 2022 L&D Global Sentiment Survey by Donald H Taylor shows that mentoring has become a top priority for organizations. This survey has been conducted every year since 2014 so it provides a historical perspective on evolving L&D goals.
Mentoring and coaching programs appeared on the list in 2020 and have already risen to number four with reskilling, social learning, and personalized delivery taking the top three spots. In the near future, mentorship initiatives will grow to support career development and skill-building, enhancing employee engagement by providing guidance and support.
Mentorship programs foster a sense of community and support among employees, leading to higher job satisfaction and reduced turnover rates. Roughly 90% of workers who have mentors are satisfied with their jobs and believe that their contributions are valued by their coworkers. Higher satisfaction leads to loyalty, higher employee retention rates, and greater productivity.
Start a mentoring program at your organization with the following steps:
- Set a clear objective for your mentoring program. For example, ‘To enhance the leadership skills of high-potential employees (mentees) within our organization through a structured mentorship program over the next 12 months.’
- Define the criteria for mentors and mentees. For example, mentors can be anyone with more than five years of experience and a history of high achievements in a specific role. A mentee can be anyone with less than two years of experience.
- Offer training sessions for mentors on effective mentoring techniques.
- Determine the frequency and format of meetings (e.g., monthly in-person or virtual sessions).
- Develop an agenda or discussion topics to guide mentorship conversations.
- Offer resources, tools, or templates that mentors and mentees can use during their mentorship journey.
- Use mentorship software or platforms for streamlined communication.
As it stands, only 40% of workers have a mentor. Use the above steps and give your organization an edge over others by starting a mentoring program.
3. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) will remain a critical priority
Organizations will increasingly prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to achieve high employee engagement because employees prefer diverse and inclusive workplaces. 76% of job seekers consider a diverse workforce as a major factor when evaluating companies and job offers.
By embracing DEIB, organizations create an environment where every employee feels valued, heard, and empowered, leading to a sense of belonging and purpose. Inclusive cultures foster innovation, encourage collaboration, and harness the unique strengths of each individual. That is why organizations will continue to invest more resources on DEI initiatives. The global DEI market is currently valued at USD 9.3 billion and is expected to grow to USD 15.4 billion by 2026.
Here’s how you can start DEI initiatives at your company:
- Begin by securing buy-in from top leadership, as their commitment is crucial to the success of DEI initiatives. Leadership should champion diversity, equity, and inclusion, setting the tone for the entire organization.
- Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your current diversity landscape, including demographics, policies, and practices. Collect data on employee experiences and perceptions to identify areas for improvement.
- Develop and implement diversity and inclusion training programs for all employees, including leadership. These programs should promote awareness, sensitivity, and the skills necessary to foster an inclusive culture.
- Evaluate and revise existing policies and procedures to ensure they align with DEI goals. Consider implementing inclusive hiring practices, pay equity reviews, and diverse talent pipelines.
- Establish ERGs or affinity groups to provide employees with safe spaces to connect, share experiences, and drive positive change. These groups can be instrumental in shaping DEI initiatives and promoting inclusivity across the organization.
17% of employees believe that leaders do not communicate about DEI frequently or at all. Make sure you communicate your DEI policies clearly and set clear milestones and metrics in place to quantify the success of your initiatives.
4. Employee wellbeing programs will expand to include a holistic approach
Organizations are paying more attention to mental wellness, and are increasingly aware of the impact of employees’ mental health on their engagement and productivity. Depression and anxiety result in a staggering loss of approximately 12 billion working days annually on a global scale, translating to a substantial economic impact of USD 1 trillion in lost productivity each year. In 2023 and beyond, organizations will dedicate more resources to promoting holistic wellness at the workplace.
Holistic wellness is a comprehensive approach to well-being that encompasses all aspects of an individual’s life, including physical, mental, emotional, social, and even spiritual health. Make sure your wellness program covers the following:
- Provide mental health resources, access to counseling, and stress management programs to reduce workplace stressors and enhance mental well-being.
- Offer financial training and resources, such as workshops on budgeting, investing, and retirement planning, to alleviate financial concerns, improve overall well-being, and increase your team’s focus on work-related tasks.
- Invest in emotional intelligence training and workshops to help employees develop self-awareness, empathy, and interpersonal skills, leading to better collaboration, reduced conflicts, and increased engagement.
- Encourage flexible work arrangements, set reasonable expectations for working hours, and provide opportunities for employees to disconnect. This will help reduce burnout and stay engaged.
- Support employees by offering fitness programs, access to health screenings, and wellness challenges. Healthy employees are more energized and better equipped to engage in their work.
Invest in employee assistance programs (EAPs) as they provide a wide range of resources, including mental health support, financial counseling, and work-life services. Offering EAPs demonstrates an organization’s commitment to holistic well-being and can serve as a valuable resource for employees facing various challenges.
5. HR leaders will focus more on AI-powered employee experience
Forward-thinking companies are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) as a tool to enhance engagement and create a more personalized, meaningful employee experience. A recent survey by Gartner found that 52% of HR leaders aim to use generative AI to improve employee experience.
Employees crave personalized experiences that align with their unique aspirations, skills, and well-being. AI can analyze vast amounts of data, including performance metrics, feedback, and personal preferences, to craft tailored experiences for each employee. By doing so, it addresses the diverse needs of the workforce, making engagement initiatives more relevant, impactful, and attractive. Use data driven insights and AI for the following:
- Offer personalized benefits by giving your employees a chance to allocate a portion of their benefits toward health insurance plans, retirement savings accounts, wellness programs, child care assistance, or additional paid time off.
- Invest in AI-driven learning management systems that recommend courses and development opportunities based on an employee’s profile, job role, and career goals. Encourage continuous learning.
Some organizations are using personal data, like digital health records, to design tailored benefit packages, potentially raising privacy concerns. Stanford University’s model utilizes employee health data to select the best health benefit provider, while John Hancock offers insurance linked to Apple Watch and Fitbit data. If you are thinking along the same lines, make sure your employees are comfortable with their data being used to personalize their experiences and that their privacy rights are respected.
6. Employees will continue to prefer purpose-driven work
Modern employees are increasingly drawn to organizations that align with their personal values and causes. In one survey, 84% of professionals said they prefer to only work for purpose driven organizations. In another, 82% said it is important for their employers to have a purpose.
The drive towards purpose-driven work is not merely a quest for job satisfaction, it represents a broader shift towards corporate social responsibility and meaningful contributions to society. By embracing purpose, aligning with social causes, and actively involving employees, organizations can create a workplace that attracts, retains, and empowers passionate individuals. Here’s what you can do to create a purpose-driven culture at your organization:
- Clearly articulate your company’s core values and mission. Make sure they reflect principles that resonate with your workforce and broader societal concerns.
- Identify social causes or initiatives that align with your values and can be integrated into your corporate strategy. Choose causes such as environmental sustainability, social justice, community involvement, or others that genuinely matter to your employees.
- Be transparent about your organization’s efforts towards purpose-driven work. Communicate your initiatives, progress, and impact both internally and externally. Hold yourself accountable for your commitments.
- Involve employees in the decision-making process regarding which causes to support or how to contribute. Encourage volunteerism and provide opportunities for staff to actively participate in purpose-driven initiatives.
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the impact of your purpose-driven initiatives. Celebrate milestones and share success stories to reinforce your commitment to meaningful work.
7. Companies will invest more in upskilling and reskilling employees
The total number of skills required for a single job is increasing by 10% every year. With the increased use of automation and AI, the generic skill set required for different jobs is changing quickly. That is why companies will invest in reskilling and upskilling programs to prepare employees for the future and to ensure long-term engagement. Continuous learning and upskilling will be integral to retaining and engaging employees as they seek opportunities for growth.
65% of employees prefer employers that provide upskilling opportunities, and 48% would switch to a new job if offered better skills training opportunities. This shows that employees are more concerned than ever when it comes to their skills becoming dated, and want to work with employers that invest in training and development. Here’s what you can do to upskill and reskill your employees:
- Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of your employees’ current skills and competencies, and compare them to the skills required for their roles and future company needs.
- Create personalized learning plans for each employee based on their skill gaps and career aspirations. Offer a mix of training methods, including online courses, workshops, on-the-job training, and mentoring.
- Implement learning management systems (LMS) and other tools to deliver and track training efficiently. Use AI-driven platforms for personalized learning experiences.
- Create a culture of continuous learning where employees are encouraged to seek out opportunities for skill development. Recognize and reward achievements and milestones.
- Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the impact of your upskilling/reskilling initiatives. Regularly review the relevance of the skills being taught and adjust training programs to meet your ever evolving business needs.
More than 60% of HR leaders use reskilling and upskilling initiatives for employee retention and to offset the need for outside hiring. Start your reskilling initiatives to drive higher engagement and to future-proof your organization.
8. Technology-driven engagement will be the norm
Employee engagement apps and AI-driven solutions are gaining prominence and their use to achieve high engagement will become more common.
Apps like Bitrix24, 15Five, WorkDay, Lattice, and BambooHR are widely used for people management across industries. These tools offer a centralized hub for employees to access company information, submit feedback, and participate in engagement initiatives. Many of these tools work with AI-driven chatbots that provide instant answers to common queries, enhancing the employee experience.
With the recent boom in generative AI, we will see an increased use of AI in analyzing engagement data. More and more AI models will be trained to provide actionable insights to help organizations make data-driven decisions to improve employee engagement strategies.
Here’s how you can use technology to drive higher employee engagement:
- Collect data through employee surveys and pulse checks and get their feedback on processes, tools, and workplace culture. Also keep track of productivity, quality of work, task completion rates, skill acquisition and so on.
- Analyze this data to perform employee sentiment analysis, identify trends, detect potential issues, and refine your engagement strategies.
- Use AI-driven solutions to create personalized experiences for employees. For example, use AI-powered learning management systems or leverage an AI content assistant to provide customized content, resources, and recommendations to your employees based on their individual preferences and needs.
- Use virtual platforms to host employee events, team-building activities, and interactive conferences to connect remote and hybrid employees.
9. Sustainable workplaces will gain popularity
According to a survey by IBM, 2 out of 3 workers prefer applying for jobs at sustainable companies. Employees will continue to prioritize environmentally sustainable workplaces in 2023 and beyond, encouraging companies to adopt eco-friendly practices and values.
Sustainable practices in the workplace align with the values of a socially and environmentally conscious workforce. Employees, particularly millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly seeking employers whose values resonate with their own. When an organization demonstrates a commitment to sustainability, it attracts employees who share these values, resulting in a more engaged and motivated workforce.
- Redesign the physical workspace to incorporate sustainable features. This includes energy-efficient lighting, waste reduction programs, and eco-friendly office supplies.
- Invest in renewable energy sources like solar and wind power to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Provide training on sustainability practices and their importance. Help employees understand how their individual actions contribute to the organization’s sustainability goals.
Engage employees in sustainability initiatives by forming cross-functional teams, setting up green committees, and encouraging idea-sharing. Employees often have valuable insights on sustainability improvements.
10. Innovative benefits packages will gain widespread acceptance
Companies will offer innovative benefits such as flexible work hours, childcare support, and pet-friendly policies to attract and retain talent. Forward-thinking companies recognize that traditional benefits alone are no longer sufficient to meet the diverse needs and expectations of their workforce. Innovative benefits packages go beyond health insurance and retirement plans, offering unique perks and tailored options that align with individual lifestyles and preferences.
Here’s how you can transform your benefits packages into a highly customized set of perks that will help you achieve higher engagement:
- Gather feedback through surveys to understand your employees’ needs and preferences. Identify areas where traditional benefits fall short and what additional offerings would be valuable to them.
- Include mental health support, stress management resources, and fitness and wellness incentives.
- Offer financial literacy programs, student loan assistance, or access to financial advisors to help your employees manage their finances effectively.
- Offer remote work stipends, on-site childcare facilities, and extended parental leave if applicable.
Continuously assess the effectiveness of your innovative benefits packages through employee feedback and engagement metrics. Make adjustments as needed to ensure they remain attractive and beneficial.
The role of mentorship in employee engagement
Mentorship programs help achieve higher job satisfaction levels and enhanced career growth. When mentors share their experiences and insights about the broader impact of their work, mentees see the purpose in what they do, contributing to a sense of meaning and engagement. In fact, mentorship facilitates many of the employee engagement trends we discussed earlier. For example:
- Holistic well-being — Mentorship programs provide a platform for employees to receive guidance not only on their professional growth but also on personal development and work-life balance. Mentors can offer valuable insights on managing stress, setting priorities, and maintaining mental and emotional well-being.
- Career growth and professional development — Mentorship aligns with the trend of upskilling and reskilling, as mentors can guide mentees in setting career goals and achieving them by acquiring new skills.
- Purpose-driven work — Mentorship programs help connect employees with experienced mentors who can provide guidance on aligning personal values with their career paths.
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) — Mentorship programs can be structured so that employees from underrepresented groups have access to mentorship opportunities, thereby addressing disparities in career advancement.
- Innovative benefits — Innovative benefits packages often include mentorship opportunities as part of a holistic approach to employee development.
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