Driving Employee Engagement – The Workplace Landscape

When thinking about the workplace landscape, there are a few important aspects to consider:

  • The physical work setup
  • The composition of your employee population
  • Company culture
  • The nature of the business (production, mining, professional services, etc.)

All of these considerations have been influenced heavily by technology advancements. Let’s focus on the first two for a moment.

The Physical Work Setup: Changed and Changing

Technology advancements have allowed the traditional local office building construct to evolve. We’ve moved into a global marketplace doing business across the world. Customers, colleagues, and partners are located anywhere and everywhere.

The telephone, personal computer, internet, virtual meeting tools, and VPNs mean employees can telecommute from anywhere. Teams no longer have to be co-located, and remote working has become more prevalent. Employees and managers may not meet face-to-face.

Pros and Cons

On the plus side, we can do more business with more people, and many have the option to work from home. J On the down side, working remotely or reporting to a team/manager who isn’t co-located can lead to a disconnect. This disconnect can cause:

  • Decreased company loyalty
  • Loss of company culture
  • Feelings of being isolated, removed, overlooked, forgotten
  • Independent work streams that don’t align to the overall company vision

With this disconnect comes the increased possibility of:

  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Decline in productivity or work quality
  • Job hopping/employee turnover (lack of retention)

The Employee Population

Allow me to generalize one particular generation: Millennial workers make up growing numbers of the workforce. 75% of the workforce will be millennials by 2025 (Hartford Business Journal, http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/20140818/PRINTEDITION/140819969/millennials-to-take-over-by-2025).

What We Know About Millennials

  • They are tech savvy and technology-focused.
  • Mobile devices and technology are everyday tools for them.
  • They are used to social networking across geographic spaces using technology.
  • They grew up working in team environments and prefer a coach rather than a manager.

Millennial workers tend to job hop every 2-5 years. They are looking for career advancement and pay increases and trying to find a niche where they provide value and are valued. This means organizations will face higher levels of turnover than in previous generations, leading to a lack of retention. Strategic activities, such as succession plans, will need constant revision and flexibility to account for personnel unknowns.

The Solution: Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is vital not just for the sake of a warm, fuzzy feeling in an organization. Multiple studies show how engaged people drive extraordinary results. As an example, the Harvard Business Review published a research study titled “The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance” in which 71% of respondents ranked a high level of employee engagement as an essential factor in achieving business success.

Engagement is essential to long term success. Today’s workforce is rapidly evolving. We have five generations of employees working together, and each generation brings a different set of needs and expectations.

There is a strong, competitive market for top talent. Organizations need to recruit high-potential employees and grow and develop their existing employees. Employing talent management initiatives, such as performance management, career development, and learning opportunities, allows organizations to meet the complex challenges of the workplace.

Let’s Begin: One Step at a Time

Engagement doesn’t evolve overnight. Engagement begins with recruiting and onboarding: a potential employee’s first exposure and experience with the organization. Pay particular attention to onboarding.

Consider the following:

  • Is your onboarding process well-defined and collaborative?
  • Is there a focus on integrating the new hire into the organization, or is it more transactional?

The manager is the first line of engagement for existing employees. Regular touch points and scheduled meetings should be held for employee-related topics. Note that regular team business meetings don’t typically count. HR plays a role as well. Assist managers with holding constructive employee sessions.

Now that managers and employees are communicating, there needs to be some sort of follow up: tracking of information, career planning, goal planning, etc. Tools are needed to assist.

What We Can Do

  • Increase employee engagement through self-services and mobile capabilities. Give them means for communicating with you.
  • Assess and track employee performance and provide feedback along the way. Weigh formal vs. informal processes.
  • Identify top performers and those in need of assistance. You may have to look harder if they are not in the office.
  • Develop actionable, trackable, and reportable performance improvement and growth plans. These plans must be collaborative.
  • Offer trainings and track their effectiveness. This demonstrates commitment and investment to an employee.
  • Use employee surveys and feedback tools to increase satisfaction and retention.
  • Facilitate collaboration between employees regardless of location.

Focus on Communication

  • Create communication plan templates for managers and employees. Include meeting cadence and agenda/coach templates.
  • Communicate succession plan ideas to key players. Many times employees leave for career advancement even though they’re slated for advancement in your organization because no one thought to tell him/her.
  • Allow employees to complete personal goal and development plans in order to share career aspirations and have a plan for achievement. Set up career planning worksheets and include training activities.
  • Create a nimble performance management process with informal coaching for development and engagement.

Get Started: Quick and Easy

  • Begin reaching out to existing employees via managers.
  • Distribute meeting plan templates for regular touch points.
  • Think informal. Engagement is meant to be enjoyable.
  • Include a space for informal goal setting, coaching, and feedback.

Tools for Success

Embrace Technology

  • Put that virtual meeting software to use. Hold regular employee sessions to touch base and review work initiatives and personal goals.
  • Utilize employee and manager self-services to keep team members connected to your organization. If you give them tools, they are more likely to use them.
  • Use a talent management solution to manage performance reviews and career plans. The solution should have starting templates and catalogs to guide managers and employees. Use a solution that provides 1:1 meeting management with agenda development and coaching templates.
  • Provide a learning management system that will allow employees to gain additional skills for success/advancement.

Mobile Applications: Always at Hand

Embracing technology means moving towards mobile functionality. Applications should be easy to use. They are hands-on and always available. Make it a priority when evaluating tools.

Yes, of course there is the need to consider whether this is relevant for your organization as a whole. It may not be relevant for all employees, but it will be relevant for at least some. Over the next few years, it will become relevant for a wider base of employees.

What to Look For

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to review goals and check in with manager/coach (direct line to manager or coach)
  • Easy to keep track of the team calendar and make/approve time off requests

Reap the Benefits: A Starting Point for your ROI

  • Engaged employees = happy employees: Or at least they’re more content, as they feel connected and part of the organization at large.
  • Employees have a setting to receive feedback, praise, and raise concerns/grievances: There is a method established for direct communication that trickles down from top to bottom.
  • A fostered sense of loyalty between employees and the organization: Loyalty leads to more productivity, lower turnover, and a strong external expression of company pride.
  • Informed team members: Both managers and employees are up to speed with team and individual work plans and initiatives. Managers are knowledgeable about employee aspirations, and employees are knowledgeable about growth opportunities.
  • Better employee data for strategic planning: HR will have a stronger sense of employee capabilities. Capabilities and aspirations can factor into strategic decisions such as succession planning


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About Illumiti HCM

Illumiti HCM is part of the Illumiti Group, which serves more than 200 customers across a multitude of industry sectors and locations. From its founding in 2000 to the end of 2015, Illumiti Group has completed more than 250 successful implementations at small, midsized, and large enterprises. Whether it’s an HR transformation initiative, a merger and acquisition related project, a drive to propel a business to best-in-class performance, or a system roll-out to other business divisions or countries, Illumiti HCM does it faster, at a lower cost, and with a higher level of confidence.

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