Employee Engagement: What’s coming in 2020?

“What do you aim to be when you grow up?”

A firefighter!

A rooster! (I actually said this.)

As children, we were asked this question several times. Even now as adults we don’t miss a chance to ask the same question to the kids around us. It could just be a way to entertain ourselves with the adorable and funny answers we get, but frankly, we learn that the professional path we chase becomes an important part of our identity from that time itself.

How many people actually feel a connection at their current job? Did anyone among us ever say, “when I grow up I want to do something with borderline proficiency that I don’t really care about just to make sufficient money to survive”?

Sadly, almost one-third of U.S. employees are not engaged in their profession for a number of reasons. Most of them either don’t feel a strong connection with their company or the mission—if there even is one. You don’t need a case study or a mathematical statistics to tell you how many problems can disengagement, create for a business, but for the ones who need more convincing, employees who are checked-out or disengaged, cost the U.S. economy more than $605 billion through the loss of productivity and performance.

Since disengagement is so destructive and expensive, why don’t we first understand what employee engagement is? I like to define employee engagement as that individual who turns up to work each day as their best self by ardently adding merit, and proactively striving to achieve their organization’s mission. Engaged employees show this through their communications and sociability with colleagues, their approach, and of course, their work.

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Establishing this sense of association and belonging with each employee requires more than just free meals or attractive work perks. It is a commitment from the leaders to focus on the particular and individual needs of each employee. Here are some workplace engagement trends and guidance to create a more engaged workforce in 2020:

1. Workforce engagement is on the upsurge

In recent years, the section percentage of engaged employees within the United States and Canada has stayed static, loitering in the lower 30s with no leap in either direction. Fortunately, a recent study shows the boat is finally moving in the right direction with 34 percent of employees committed to their organization and energized about their work.

On the contrary, the percentage of actively disengaged workers is at an all-time rock bottom. Only 13 percent of U.S. employees claim to be unhappy in their role, and the remaining 53 percent are merely not engaged. This means an enormous majority of people don’t feel a natural connection to their job profile or to the organization, putting most companies at risk of high employee turnover rates.

2. The Millennials set is here to stay

In the last few years, we’ve seen that the millennials’ portion of the workforce has expanded dramatically. This generation of modern employees has now taken the position as the largest existing adult generation, and many have already climbed up the ladder into leadership roles. With more older employees retiring each year, millennials are set to form 75 percent of the workforce by 2030 and continue to majorly influence employee engagement trends.

Organizations seeking to encourage employees in their work will now have to customize their employee engagement strategies according to this group. Research indicates that they are motivated by open interaction, a great work culture, involvement with causes, and achieving purpose and fulfillment. Despite the flack they receive from older generations, millennials are enthusiastic to learn and thrive in collaborative work environments that value psychological safety.

Related Article: All You Need To Know About The Future Of Work

3. More empathetic leadership

It’s a frequent saying that “people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses.” And evidently, the opposite seems true too. An encouraging manager creates more team engagement. A great amount of productivity and engagement comes from the employees who work for an understanding and compassionate leader—one who is real, present, has a sense of dignity, holds others accountable, leads with integrity and honor and shows compassion.

4. Feedback is no longer just a “nice-to-have”

Research on employee engagement revealed that the vast majority of employees who received little or no feedback were highly disengaged. Workforce engagement soared up dramatically when employees received multiple examples of constructive feedback about their weaknesses, and even more so when they received feedback about strengths. A study by The Predictive Index found an equivalent data that additionally proved that employees actually enjoy feedback, yet almost (44%) managers are paying no attention to this engagement trend and are giving very little feedback if any.

Information can be a valuable measure, but the feedback/engagement connection is also instinctive. How much more engaged are you in any relationship when you are having an open and honest conversation about what matters most?

5. Work/Life balance is now Work/Life blend

The best performing organizations are welcoming flexibility. For many job-profiles there are no longer conclusive reasons to require people to come to the office every day, or for work to be done between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. (I am writing this from my living room coffee table at 7:30 at night). More companies will continue to go down this path for as long as the figures continue to show that it’s a fruitful employee engagement trend.

6. Join hands with People Analytics 

Looking at employee behaviors and their impact on performance is how leaders can make informed decisions. These metrics allow companies to gather actionable insights for their workforce, but progress to gain these solutions is moving slow. A recent study by Deloitte shows that 71 percent of companies see people analytics as a high priority in their organizations, but only a small fraction of companies are investing in it.

For the companies that are using people analytics, they’re obtaining a much profound understanding of areas such as recruitment, performance, and employee experience. These hard facts could provide consciousness into what ingredients are missing from your employee experience or help you find the appropriate solutions to lessen your employee turnover rate. Owing to this, businesses now have the capabilities to steal a march on this disaster before it happens.

7. Technology will kick-off to focus on the employee

Over the last two decades, businesses have begun to drift away from the vintage “competitive evaluation” model that oppressively ranked people, and adapt to the “coaching and growth” model that supports a growth mindset. Because of this transference, the way we set goals, chase progress and manage people has changed almost completely.

Through the use of Human Capital and performance management software, leaders now have uniform visibility into what drives and motivate their employees, understand the challenges they face, and create a window for employee feedback. This feedback is essential for companies to stay agile and habituate to new industry trends in real-time, or they could risk falling behind their competitors.

Overall, a business can be viewed as a living, breathing entity. It undergoes change, it develops, grows, and it also recedes. A business can fall into pieces, but it can also heal. The employees are the individual cells that function together to ensure that the entity is healthy, productive, and flourishing. In 2019, the brain (leadership) had developed better performance management tools at its disposal to foresee and improve employee engagement trends. Maybe in the year 2020, organizations will report a positive radical shift in how people show up to work.

Lock and load to embrace and utilize what’s coming. People are and will remain central to any business. Create a culture employees want to engage with and discover the essentials of employee engagement with peopleHum – The Future of Work people platform.