Employee Engagement: Past, Present and Future

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employee engagement future of work

Will special birthday lunches at your office be the same? Will team-building activities excite you in the same way? Will festival celebrations be fun again at the workplace? Most probably, in a few months, offices will start working in hybrid models. It means you’ll be balancing between your colleagues and family again but in a bit different way.

Before pandemic, face-to-face conversations and physical presence were the major contributors to employee engagement. Special lunches, festival celebrations, and team-building activities were used to engage employees and strengthen bonds in the organization.

Employee engagement is a human resources (HR) concept that describes the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels toward their job. Engaged employees care about their work and about the performance of the company, and feel that their efforts make a difference.
-Investopedia

When the pandemic knocked our doors, we went to complete work from home model, face-to-face conversations turned into virtual meetings, and physical presence became more of an audio presence. Now that the pandemic situation is getting better and work culture is again on the verge of changing, employers are beginning to discover innovative ways to keep their employees engaged and build relationships for more collaborative work with new models.

In this article, let us discuss the importance of engagement and how it has evolved from past to present to future. Let us know how employee engagement will be in the hybrid work model.

In this blog we will gleam your knowledge related to employee engagement and explain you about:

  1. Importance of Employee Engagement Activities in an Organisation
  2. WIFI Model to Engage Employees suggested by Sarah Cook
  3. How employers used to engage their employees in past
  4. Present situation and Employee Engagement Activities
  5. How future will be different in context of employee engagement


Why does an Organization Take Care of Employee Engagement Activities?

Work would lead to burnout if employees follow a routine of 9 to 5 without any breather at their workplace. They would soon feel exhausted and as a result, the growth of the organization will start snailing. To keep them encouraged and motivated, employers must put in efforts for employee engagement. 


There are a few reasons why an organization must take employee engagement activities seriously :

  • Employee Wellness: Both the physical and mental health of employees is of utmost importance. Unhealthy employees drag productivity and lower down efficiency. So, to keep your human assets energetic, you must keep them engaged.
  • Retention Rate: For building the committed workforce and positive working environment, retain employees or core team for the long run. Interactive onboarding, frequent training programs, and many other engagement sessions can help sustain employees for a long time.
  • Happier Workplaces: Happy employees can climb the Everest together even with minimal resources, while unhappy employees can leech away the almost completed project. So, engage your workforce, make them happy, and ultimately grow your profits.
  • Customer Service: Engaged employees are more willing to go the extra mile to generate leads, improve conversions, and resolve customer complaints. Thus, to assure customer satisfaction, ensure employee engagement.

Employee Engagement: Past, Present and Future

Change is the only constant. With changing times, workplace schedules, employer-employee relations, mode of communication, and above all, methods of engaging employees are changing. As the work from office model turned to work from home and now hybrid, companies are strategizing to maintain employee enthusiasm by discovering new ways  to engage.

Let us go back in time and look out how our corporate culture changed. This might give you the vision to move forward positively and find exceptional ways to engage employees.


1. PAST- OLD NORMAL-WORK FROM OFFICE

When we used to work from the office, employee engagement was an easy task. Just a slight twist in the daily routine was needed to boost employees. Some of my all-time favorites include:

  • Office Parties: Whether it was a time for new employee onboarding or the bid adieu of the old one, organizations used to keep their annual budget aside and sponsor parties to help employees gel up with each other.
  • Mood Twisters: Many organizations used to behave uniquely to change the mood of their employees by going completely offbeat with Secret Santa Events, Random competitions, Ad shoots, etc.
  • Award Ceremonies: Celebrating anniversaries, giveaways, quarterly champions, etc., was once a norm, and companies arranged formal award ceremonies. Employers used to encourage their employees every then and now with the help of these ceremonies.
  • Announcements: For formal notifications, emails and notice boards were the most commonly used mediums before pandemic times to engage and intimate employees. 

Other commonly deployed activities were- training sessions, cricket tournaments, fundraising events, CSR activities and much more. However gone are the days, when we used to cheer for our favorite teams in the grounds.

Let’s move ahead to know how things worked during the pandemic.


2. PRESENT- NEW NORMAL- WORK FROM HOME

As the pandemic knocked on our doors in Dec 2019, everything turned upside down. Work from home, which was imagined as the long-term goal, became the panic time solution. Every industry, whether small or large, started pedaling up and strategizing the new model of work.

After some hiccups, everything started falling into place, work from home became efficient, and employers found new ways to engage their employees.

Some of the employee engagement activities organized by most of the organizations were:

  • Monday Blue Sessions: To kill the Monday blues during a pandemic, many companies used to stretch Monday morning calls and organize team-building games like two lies one truth, Pictionary, feedback, and many more.
  • Online Recognition: As there was no option to organize physical parties and recognize employees for their commendable performance, virtual parties were opted. Many software like Zoom, Google, Whereby, etc., helped in the process.
  • Survey Forms: To know about employees’ mental health, many companies started circulating survey forms monthly. Based on feedback, they found ways to keep the morale of employees high in unprecedented situations.
  • Paperless Announcements: During pandemic, mails, text messages, links of virtual meetings, and social posts became the medium to manage routine and occasional announcements. Also, short videos were adopted by a few organizations.

During COVID-19, employees had to trust leaders to take the right direction and to make tough decisions for the future. A key part of trust in leadership is transparency, where employees have visibility into what is happening within their organisation.

Although many organisations have faced challenges in adjusting their management styles during COVID-19, lessons learned about employee engagement will bring about positive changes in employee mindsets. 
Deloitte

3. FUTURE- EXPECTATIONS- HYBRID MODEL

After two dreadful COVID waves, on the one hand, we are expecting a third wave shortly while, on the other, preparing for new work models. Tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and Adobe have already declared their plans to approach hybrid models while SMEs and start-ups are still in a dilemma.

What do you think about employee engagement? How will it be  in the future?

Definitely, it would be a balance between offline and online.

Employee engagement would be no less than a challenge. To ease future problems, some of the leading HRMS software are working hard and adding new features in their applications to help companies manage their employees in the future work environment.


Let us explore how the future of employee management activities look like:

  • Mood Sensor: Engaging employees with the help of chatbot technology will become a trend in the future workplace. To make employees feel valuable, employers must take both online and offline efforts to know their mood and reasons behind. This makes the organisation future ready to work in a hybrid model.


  • Virtual and Real Badges: Taking the wellness of employees into account, employers must think of ways to recognize and appreciate the good work of employees in every possible way. However, in the future workplace, only virtual employee engagement won’t be enough as employees are already suffering from COVID fatigue and trying to maintain their mental health


  • Reward Policy: Earlier rewards were given in the form of certificates, trophies, and prize money. As the digital world is growing, employers consider giving gift coupons or reward points to their employees. This approach will help save time and gives employees the freedom to redeem or utilize money in the way they want. Monthly, quarterly or yearly frequency can be set  to reward employees under a continuous reward policy.


  • Internal Feed Wall: Just like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social media platforms, as an employer, you can get an innovative and dynamic feed wall to revitalize internal communication and keep your employees engaged. This wall can be used to welcome new employees, manage recurring announcements, get in touch with other employees, and much more in an upcoming hybrid work model


At HROne, we took some engagement initiatives in view of the profound impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on the mental health and well being of employees. One of such initiatives #HROneKaIPL, the first ever at work prediction league, a part of our bigger engagement reboot plan saw 20k+ participants daily playing #HROneKaIPL within the first week. #T20BurnoutBreak is another popular initiative where we gamified our HR software and brought B2C experience in a B2B application. 


Wrapping Up

COVID was an unprecedented event; we were not prepared for what had happened. But now, we can make ourselves, our organization, and our employers resilient for the future of work. In the past two years, certain new technologies and new applications came to the forefront to help us handle upcoming hassles.

As we foresee the conundrum of work in future, the current circumstances, activities to maintain mental well-being like feedback sessions, occasional meetups, internal and external surveys, award ceremonies, festival celebrations, etc., would be there in an innovative format.

From attendance management to employee engagement, everything would need a reboot for the future work world.

Make your Employee Engagement fun and easy!

Learn how HROne Employee Engagement software can help you automate Employee Engagement & stay 100% compliant!

Tarulika Jain

Hi.. I am Tarulika Jain. I work as a content writer in HROne. I am an Electrical Engineer by degree, and a pragmatic writer by profession. I bring you insights about Human Resource Management and how digitalisation can make your workplaces happier. When I’m not writing, researching and reading, I walk around the woods, sip my coffee and listen to Indie Music.

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