How to boost employee engagement in the modern workplace


  • Prioritizing employee engagement can benefit organizations in many ways.
  • A better work environment, increased productivity, and fewer employee exits are some of the advantages of having an engaged workforce.
  • Employers can use a combination of data analytics tools, AI, and classic tactics such as weekly touchpoints, townhalls, and a reward system to improve employee experience in their organizations.
How to boost employee engagement in the modern workplace

Employee engagement is one of the driving forces behind a successful organization. Happy employees are more productive than unhappy ones, and the impact of happiness on employee performance is most visible in customer-facing roles in service industries. But organizations can struggle to focus on engaging employees amid meeting business and growth goals, or to understand what it takes to truly engage them. Navigating this essential element of people management can help improve employee retention, save costs related to new recruits, improve productivity, and achieve continued business success.

Why the fuss

Employee engagement refers to the alignment employees feel with the goals of an organization, clarity about the role they play, and their motivation to help the company achieve its goals. It is also about how genuinely employees enjoy the work they do and can recognize its value in the organization. This sentiment is of utmost importance as it leads to:

  • Better performance outcomes: Studies indicate that employees who are happier with their work tend to be less distracted and stressed, making them 12% more productive. Engaged employees have higher wellbeing, lower absenteeism, better productivity, and profitability. What’s more, the benefits spill over to the customer and increase customer satisfaction owing to employees who are offering better customer service.

    Employees who are happier with their work tend to be less distracted and stressed, making them more productive.

  • A collaborative work environment: Engaged employees feel a sense of company pride and team spirit and are enthusiastic about collaborating with colleagues to hit common targets. This can be particularly valuable during challenging times when employee morale tends to suffer.

    Why the fuss
  • Better employee retention: Engaged employees are less likely to be unhappy with their jobs, hence less likely to quit. Employee retention is a major challenge for companies, with good talent hard to come by. It also helps organizations retain their best employees who are willing to grow in the organization, take on more challenging roles, and become brand ambassadors among their peers.

But global research shows that 86% of employees feel that people at their organization are not heard fairly or equally — and close to 47% say that underrepresented voices remain undervalued by employers. A lack of employee engagement can pose issues ranging from poor work culture, and employees feeling invisible, to “quiet quitting”. Employers recognize this but face their own challenges when it comes to getting employee engagement right.

A lack of employee engagement can pose issues such as poor work culture and “quiet quitting”.

Challenges employers face

One of the biggest issues that employers face in developing effective employee engagement is not knowing how to go about it. There is lack of awareness regarding what technology to use to measure employee engagement or how to gather information about what employees want and if there’s alignment between employee needs and what the organization is providing. Not having access to the technology is another issue. At times, it could even be a disengaged leadership or lack of leadership support in focusing on employee engagement as a strategic imperative.

Getting past them

  • Infosys’s The Future of Work 2023 report shows how digital technology usage is linked to improved employee engagement as it makes employees more self-sufficient and connected. Organizations should look at leveraging technology that helps employees work effectively from anywhere they want, collaborate, and solve their issues via self-service portals, and automates certain processes, giving employees more time to focus on tasks they enjoy. The study shows that some businesses are using technology such as organizational network analysis which identifies the information flow between employees, and workplace analytics which tracks and monitors workplace behaviours and productivity to engage with employees and track success. Both these technologies derive their data through email, collaboration tools and self-service tools used by employees, and digital monitoring.

    Businesses are using organizational network analysis and workplace analytics to engage with employees and track success.

    When a leading global fertilizer company, the result of various mergers and a blend of different employee cultures, needed support with understanding the needs of employees and creating a common platform to engage them, WongDoody’s human-centric design approach helped to unite their global workforce. WongDoody conducted research with global employee groups to define business and user requirements which informed the creation of a new intranet for the company, consolidating all key information within an intuitive and user-friendly interface. Along with providing access to essential HR information, the new platform also helped increase engagement by supplying employees with relevant content, creating opportunities for communication, collaboration, and recognition.

    Getting past them
  • Data tools can be used to study employee sentiment and perception, and detect a mismatch between how the management perceives company culture compared to its employees. This can spark off remedial actions depending on what issues are detected, and help the management create a workplace culture which is aligned with their and the employees’ expectations, that employees can identify with, thus reducing a sense of disconnection if any. Some data tools are so evolved that they can assess negative behaviours that can harm the culture of the workplace. For example, natural language processing can be used to detect unconscious bias in the performance evaluation of diverse employees, conducted by managers, and point out the option to modify the communications accordingly. AI is also being used increasingly for employee sentiment analysis and to help organizations flag off issues related to burnout or work life balance and make amends.

    AI is being used increasingly for employee sentiment analysis and to help organizations flag off issues related to burnout or work life balance.

    Getting past them
  • Amid the excitement of digital technologies, it is important for businesses to note that age-old practices such as regular one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers or leaders, to give and receive feedback, still do make a significant difference in making employees feel heard. This is valuable as employees who feel heard by their organizations are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.
  • Employee recognition is another important aspect of employee engagement, that not only builds team spirit and encourages other employees to perform well, but is also linked to retention.

Once companies have identified the needs of the employees, be it remote working, flexible working, better compensation and benefits, or more training, it is important to display willingness to act upon them and implement the initiatives. The sooner companies understand how important effective employee engagement is and take active measures to help improve their employee engagement metrics, the better.

How to boost employee engagement in the modern workplace
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