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Five trends in employee engagement

|May 08, 2017

The term “employee engagement” is gaining momentum in the corporate world. Its application in everything from human resources to improving financial output has reimagined how we think about our colleagues and employees, and put unconventional approaches to employee satisfaction on the front page. From Google’s campus-style offices to WestJet’s cheeky staff training, many companies are making the essential connection between engaged employees and success.

Employee engagement changes corporate culture, involves staff in the overall mission and vision of the organization, and contributes to an increase in commitment and related positive behaviours that support the achievement of business goals.

We founded a team of employee engagement experts from across the NATIONAL network to find out how organizations want to approach employee engagement. The initiative launched a comprehensive employee engagement audit that spanned Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. and engaged with business leaders across key sectors. From the data, NATIONAL identified five key trends in employee engagement.

1. Satisfaction or engagement?

Many organizations are moving away from satisfaction and engagement and are now focusing solely on engagement. This was particularly evident where many companies indicated they were moving away from traditional employee satisfaction surveys to tools that measured engagement on issues or specific programs, as well as other indicative measures like retention rate and productivity.

2. Engagement is becoming more holistic; it is not just a program on its own

Organizations recognize that they have to engage employees differently and create long-term motivation, and this engagement style is driven by emotional intelligence.

We understand that engaged employees are often the hardest-working employees. To truly maximize an organization’s effectiveness, employee engagement needs to be a priority. And it’s not just about satisfaction – employee engagement is comprised of loyalty, involvement and trust.

3. Workplace dynamics

The dynamics of the workplace have changed and organizations must be built with functionality in mind to enable them to address changes in employee make-up and expectations. The flow of information and its impact on decision making must be analyzed. Multiple generations are in the workforce and different motivators are required for each group. Customization becomes key.

4. Importance of collaboration

Collaboration leads to empowerment, helps to make employees feel valued and opens the lines of communications. This helps employees feel supported, and contribute to their organization’s success.

Providing employees with a space that not only supports, but encourages collaboration is becoming more common as well. In recent years, we’ve seen this reflected in the physical design of work spaces, as more and more companies opt for open-concept offices and collaborative work spaces to encourage teamwork.

5. Use of technology and social media

Most participants identified their employee engagement channels as middle-of-the-road, using a mix of traditional and “fairly modern” interactive or digital technologies. Very few were using gamification or other more sophisticated tools.

Many indicated a desire to elevate their employee engagement programs to a higher level of sophistication, which encourages increased two-way engagement with employees. Most participants think dialogue or face-to-face communications is important. There is still a preference for face-to-face communications and “paper” still plays a significant role in how most organizations communicate.

There is a strong desire to make greater use of social media but organizations are still struggling with how to incorporate the tool into employees’ day-to-day routines. Some organizations, usually the larger, more hierarchical ones, are still struggling with this integration of social media and the subsequent blurring of work/personal lives. How and when to use these channels still seems to be an issue.

With these five trends in mind, we know that the business world is in for major changes as our networks continue to grow through new approaches to employee engagement.


Find out more about NATIONAL’s Employee Engagement services.