Employee engagement lessons for 2020

Employee engagement lessons for 2020

You can’t follow the same recipe year on year if you want to successfully engage your employees. Businesses develop and employees’ interests and expectations change. You therefore need to continually adapt your employee engagement strategy to keep up with the latest trends, concepts and techniques that emerge. Not only does it ensure you’re meeting the needs of your employees, but it means you remain competitive as an employer.

As with every year, 2019 revealed yet more ways businesses can refine their employee engagement strategies. So, here’s some useful lessons for 2020.

1. Use technology to take the user experience to the next level

As with our solutions, nearly all benefits, reward and wellbeing offerings now rely on technology as a hosting and delivery tool. But, while there’s no doubt about the value of automating employee engagement activities, a basic use of technology is no longer enough. It’s all about using technology in an innovative way to provide a great user experience.

Our Business Development Executive Andy Campbell explains:

“One of the key lessons we’ve learned is that any solution that has an employee as the end-user has to provide a good user experience; there really is a shift towards consumer-grade technology going on and if things are not easy to use, and the employee cannot access what they want quickly, then there is a real risk that you will not engage them with your offering.”

In order to capture your employees’ interest and get them regularly using your benefits, for example, your benefits platform needs to be easy to access, navigate and give them an experience akin to other online platforms they’ll be using. The technology used therefore needs to be innovative in order to deliver features that’ll enhance the user experience like sophisticated searching, personalisation and consumer-grade navigation, for example. Compatibility on all devices is also key so employees can access everything at home, at work or on the go. This will ensure that they get the most out of what you’re offering.

Throughout 2019, our team have worked hard to re-develop our advantage benefits and discounts solution with this exact lesson in mind. Now it’s complete, we’re excited to be in the process of delivering this fantastic new version of the platform to our existing and future clients.

2. Approach employee wellbeing holistically

2019 revealed how multi-faceted employee wellbeing is. While the emotional and physical sides of health are often considered first by businesses embarking on a wellbeing strategy, other areas have come to the fore which are also important and require attention.

Financial and social wellbeing, for example, are now very prominent areas of discussion because of the impact money and relationships can have on the overall wellbeing of employees. In one of our 2019 employee engagement round table discussions we focused specifically on financial wellbeing in the workplace, discussing how money-related stress can have a real impact on overall employee engagement.

On top of this, other areas such as cultural wellbeing and career wellbeing have emerged. Just take a look at the diagram below to see just how extensive wellbeing can be.

In order to deliver the best possible employee wellbeing support, businesses need to take a holistic approach and open up to the idea of there being many different areas to address. While mental wellbeing and physical wellbeing are of course important, there are many other elements that should be considered, and we predict 2020 will see these become increasingly important.

3. Consider the zones of engagement

Your employees’ behaviour and working environment are both good gauges of how engaged your employees are. Proactive behaviour suggests employees are motivated, committed and care about their role in your business, while a positive team climate suggests that employees work well as a team and support each other with your business’ strategic narrative in mind. However, looking at the zones of engagement below, it’s clear that it’s not always that simple.

The zones of engagement emerged from research[1] at the end of 2018 and has since become a useful tool to help businesses map out where their employees sit. The spectrum demonstrates that team behaviours and the overall team climate when looked at in conjunction can reveal very different levels of engagement.

The spectrum is an enlightening tool because it reveals that proactive behaviour isn’t necessarily an indication of engaged employees. In fact, if employees are working in a negative environment, proactive behaviour can instead be a sign of pseudo-engagement which essentially means that employees are playing the system to serve their own needs. In others words, they’re working hard to serve their own careers, rather than working as part of a team to reach a collective goal.

So, the lesson here is that you can’t determine how engaged your employees are by simply looking at how they behave. To truly understand you need to dig deeper and look at a range of elements.

4. The employee experience

One important takeaway from 2019 is just how crucial the employee experience is to overall employee engagement. HR professionals are becoming more aware of how the employee experience can either make or break their employees’ engagement levels and increasingly using it to shape their employee engagement strategies. Rather than focusing on employees that are already settled, this approach encourages businesses to look at the entire employee experience – the journey an employee takes from applying for a job, being taken on board, settling into the role and beyond – and consider how they can improve to make employees feel more engaged at every point along this journey.

A positive working environment, regular communications, benefits, rewards and the ability for employees to voice their honest thoughts are just a few examples of ways businesses can start to improve their employee experience.

A bad employee experience can not only have a huge impact on your business’ ability to retain and motivate employees, it can also create challenges for when you want to attract and recruit new people. Negative comments from current and former employees can easily shape your business’ identity as an employer and create disengagement before someone has even applied for a job. That’s why it’s so important to get it right.

Now we’ve started a new year, it’s the best time to reflect and learn from our experiences. Hopefully our employee engagement lessons have given you something to think about and you can takeaway some useful tips for your 2020 employee engagement strategy.


[1] Shades of Grey: An exploratory study of engagement in work teams,

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