HR & New Work
7 min read
8 influential employee engagement trends in 2023 and beyond
Follow these employee engagement trends to discover how worker sentiment has changed and how your organisation can positively impact motivation at your company.
The past couple of years have been characterised by upheaval. Whether it’s a global pandemic, geopolitical instability, macroeconomic concerns, or the ongoing climate crisis — there’s a high likelihood that your company and your employees have been affected in some way. Redundancies and restructuring can have a detrimental impact on employee morale, and many organisations are now looking at how they can bounce back in 2023 and beyond.
What’s vital to keep in mind is that both the world and your employees have changed. The pandemic shifted workers’ values and beliefs around work-life balance. New technologies are eliminating roles and resulting in new opportunities. Employee experience is now understood to be such a cornerstone of business success that companies are employing full-time employee experience managers to ensure their workers are engaged and satisfied.
In this article, we’re going to outline 8 of the most influential employee engagement trends in 2023 and beyond. Whether you haven’t started your employee experience journey yet, are mid-way through employee engagement initiatives or have a well-established framework for motivating your workers, these trends will offer you a glimpse into how the workplace is changing for us all.
Why employee engagement is a business matter
Before diving into employee engagement trends, we must remind ourselves why exactly employee engagement statistics matter. Engaged employees:
- Work harder
- Lead to higher profits
- Have less absenteeism
- Reduce staff turnover
How to improve employee engagement in the workplace
With those employee engagement statistics in mind, it’s vital to consider what actually works when it comes to improving employee motivation and morale. To help you out, we’ve outlined the six principles of employee motivation as well as 31 different ideas for improving employee engagement.
8 employee engagement trends
1. Humans aren’t just resources
HR is having a rebrand. Thinking of humans as merely ‘resources’ has become an antiquated way of thinking in the business world. More often than not, the traditional HR department of an organisation is transforming into the ‘people team’, ‘people and culture’, ‘people operations’, or some variation on that theme.
This is a direct result of employees’ changing expectations (and, let’s face it, a strong candidate-led market for a number of years). Business Solver’s 2023 State of Workplace Empathy Report reveals that 77% of workers would be willing to work more hours for a more empathetic workplace. This reflects a wider shift in the importance of empathy in the workplace, particularly for Millennials and Gen-Zs.
By rebranding the HR department to a new name that reflects empathetic values and demonstrates that the organisation sees employees as more than just a ‘resource’, companies are illustrating the importance of worker engagement at the most basic level. Expect to see fewer HR teams in org charts in the coming years, and seriously consider a rebrand if you’re still clinging on to the old term.
2. Flexibility to suit the new world of work
Numerous studies have indicated that there is a clear connection between flexible working arrangements and employee engagement. However, in 2023 and beyond, flexibility at work will evolve not just in terms of hours, but also location, autonomy, adaptability, and more. The pandemic has made many workers more aware that it is entirely possible to fit work around life, caring responsibilities, and working styles and preferences. Because of that, employers who offer maximum flexibility are likely to attract the best talent.
Office workers now want remote or hybrid options, while frontline workers are calling for increasing digitisation to pick and choose the shifts that work for them. Flexibility goes hand in hand with autonomy, with many workers calling for an output-based approach where they can control when and how they work, as long as they deliver the results.
3. Digital tools for modern workers
Following on from flexibility, digital tools and digitisation, are vital employee engagement trends for 2023 and beyond. Digital employee experience, also known as DEX, explores all the ways that workers engage with digital tools in their daily work. In a modern workplace, it’s crucial that your staff have effective digital tools and digitised processes to automate tasks, increase communication opportunities, and facilitate greater autonomy.
Video conferencing software and instant messengers enable remote and flexible working arrangements. Digital feedback surveys allow employees to share their opinions. Digitised admin processes such as booking time off or updating payroll information can be automated, saving time and offering greater control to workers. All of these benefits positively impact employee engagement. The number of digitised processes and tools we’ll see in the workplace is set to continue growing, so watch this space!
How an employee app improves engagement
Speaking of digital tools for modern workers, Flip’s employee app enables everything you need to positively engage your workers — no matter where they work. Accessible from any device, Flip works just the same on an office computer as it does on a personal smartphone, meaning communication and information sharing are equal across your organisation. This is especially important for businesses with a large number of frontline workers, such as in healthcare or retail, as they often miss out on essential updates due to a lack of digitisation.
Flip facilitates communication through its social media-style newsfeed, instant messaging service, and digital employee surveys. Workers can submit ideas for improvement directly via the app, increasing the sense of empowerment and autonomy, which are vital components of engagement. See how Flip compares to other digital tools for employee engagement here.
4. Artificial intelligence
There are probably more articles talking about how AI is the next big trend than you can shake a stick at, but that doesn’t detract from the truth. AI is a massive trend in employee engagement and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Firstly, AI plays a large part in personalised experiences, delivering content and resources that are most relevant to each employee. With regular feedback and surveys, AI can be used for predictive analysis to highlight if there are any retention risks or poor employee sentiment.
While some workers, especially those on the frontline, fear for their jobs with artificial intelligence, the power it has to automate mundane or repetitive tasks will ultimately have a positive impact on employee engagement, as they’ll have more time for other, more interesting tasks. For office workers, in particular, 61% believe that AI helps them to work in a more productive way.
5. Diversity, equality, and inclusion
D, E & I initiatives can be seen as ‘nice to haves’, but in relation to employee engagement, they are essential to fostering a sense of belonging, and creating a vibrant and innovative workplace. More than 3 out of 4 job seekers and employees (76%) report that a diverse workforce is important when evaluating companies and job offers, reflecting how important this is for a modern workplace.
These initiatives are strengthened with Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), where communities form around a topic or theme that is meaningful to them. These help employees to feel valued and respected for their unique perspectives and that there is an environment where their voices can be heard. With this comes greater collaboration and higher overall job satisfaction and morale.
6. Workplace wellness
With an increased understanding of the importance of prevention in burnout and long-term mental health problems, more and more workplaces are investing in wellness programmes for their employees. This can include anything from free counselling sessions and private health insurance, to subsidised gym memberships and nap pods.
The World Health Organisation reports that workplace health initiatives can help reduce sick leave absenteeism by 27% and healthcare costs for companies by 26%, so corporate wellness programmes are about company cost-saving as well as improving the employee experience. More and more companies and health tech start-ups are aiming at this corporate segment, so expect to see even more wellness offerings coming onto the market in the future.
Whether through virtual reality onboarding or on-demand learning, gamification is a big trend for employee engagement. Gamification describes the use of game-like elements, such as rewards, challenges, and competition, in non-game contexts to engage and motivate people to achieve specific goals or tasks. Research has shown that 85% of workers are shown to be more engaged when gamification solutions are applied to their workplace. When it comes to onboarding, 54% of new hires with companies that gamify the process claim a higher rate of productivity.
Some of the simplest ways to gamify employee tasks are by attributing points or scores, including a progress bar in online training, and introducing competitive leaderboards. More sophisticated gamification examples include using personalised avatars and virtual currencies to incentivise workers. As the workforce becomes increasingly younger, the use of gamification to keep them engaged is sure to continue.
8. Considering what the new generation wants
Around 40% of the economy are Millennials, and Gen-Zs are increasingly joining the workforce, and their expectations of work differ wildly from previous generations. In order to keep employees engaged, organisations must consider these differences. Deloitte published a paper that explained that while salary remains important, whether work is interesting or meaningful is increasingly crucial to the new generation of employees.
It goes without saying that they expect a digital workplace with intuitive tools, but there are other elements to consider, such as the importance of social responsibility and ‘contributing’ to the greater good. In order to keep younger workers engaged, companies must consider the wider impact of their work, as well as sustainability initiatives and charitable causes.
Trends are telling signals of changing times
While the word ‘trends’ suggests transitory ideas that come and go, the trends outlined in this article reflect the shifts in workplace culture and employee engagement overall. Technology, including digital tools and AI, will continue to change the shape of modern business. As the workforce becomes increasingly younger, the expectations and wishes of the younger generation will overtake those of the old incumbents. Overall, the idea of increased empathy at work and helping employees feel more than just a cog in a wheel will be paramount to having a happy and satisfied workforce. Keep an eye on these trends and how they impact your employee engagement, but don’t forget to consider your workforce's unique pain points and challenges when implementing any new solutions. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ to happiness, after all.
Come have a chat with one of our employee engagement experts to see how Flip could help digitise your communication and improve worker satisfaction. Book a call.