Employee Engagement has been a rising trend for the past several years, so we can’t call it new – or news. What is new is how the principles behind engagement – the fundamentals that make employees excited and energized by their jobs – are evolving. And, employee expectations for how they’ll be treated are evolving right along with them.

Trend 1: Faster, more sensitive HR responses to inappropriate behavior

The #MeToo movement has surfaced a lot of bad behavior and has made everyone more aware of how they are treated, and how they should expect to be treated at work. HR departments are frequently on the front lines of these disputes and will be working to respond faster, and more sensitively.

The must-have: Open, honest, anonymous employee feedback

Having a way to nip inappropriate behavior in the bud has become very important – like an anonymous survey that allows employees to securely voice their concerns, and know they’re heard, before those concerns grow into larger problems.

Trend 2: Don’t just consider customer experience – improve employee experience

Every company talks about ensuring a great customer experience, but the experience customers have with your company are a direct result of their interactions with your employees. The focus has been slowly shifting to improving employee experience, as a way to improve both employee and customer retention.

What factors contribute to a positive employee experience?

  • Company culture
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Rewards and recognition for good work
  • Team relationships

The must-have: A way to measure (and improve) employee experience

Employee experience is a metric just like anything else – it can be measured and improved. As companies become more aware of the impact employee experience has on customer experience, employee retention rates and revenue, more effort will be put in to tracking how employees feel about their workplace and coworkers. Customer experience (CX) surveys have long been used to gauge how customers feel. In the next few years, employee experience surveys will become equally as common.

  • 13.5% of workers admit that company culture will push them to accept another job offer (Ajilon)
  • Among millennials who worked at 5-7 organizations, 34% didn’t trust their direct manager, 31% said their organizations don’t set goals, and 48% said their organization thought only about profits (O.C. Tanner)

Trend 3: Mental health awareness is rising

Most companies have policies in place to support employee health and wellbeing, but mental health needs aren’t often addressed or even discussed. Awareness of mental health has been steadily increasing, giving rise to policies and programs to help employees be more open about their struggles and get the support they need.

Read: How to Include Mental Health in Your Employee Engagement Strategy

The must-have: Top-down support for mental health needs

Everyone has challenges, some more than others, but every employee needs to feel safe discussing their challenges with leadership, secure in the knowledge that their needs will be supported as much as possible. That message should come from the top and be repeated often to become an integral part of company culture.

Trend 4: Forget flexibility – 2019 is about work-life balance

Flexible work schedules have been trending up, but the ability to flexibly work from home, from the office, or from the beach in Barbados has led to people working more. We don’t quibble with our iPhones when they need to recharge, but many companies expect their employees to keep going without breaks (especially in the U.S.). The issue is coming to a head:

  • 61% of workers left or considered quitting a job because it lacked work flexibility options (FlexJob)
  • Workers said they would rank work-life balance higher than salary when considering a job prospect (FlexJob)
  • 11% of workers have refused a new job due to a lack of good work-life balance opportunities, while around 75% of workers would carefully consider their childcare arrangements before taking a promotion or new job (Working Families and Bright Horizons)

The must-have: Work-life balance culture

A culture where work-life balance is supported is becoming a real selling point to the most talented employees – the ones who efficiently get more work done in less time, and make it home in time for family dinners.

Trend 5: Continuous learning to navigate rapid shifts in necessary skills

One of the top reasons why employees leave a company for another job is for opportunities to grow, which means that providing opportunities to grow, improve and learn is a key way to retain talent. This is becoming more and more important as the digital skills employees need are changing rapidly in response to new technology.

  • Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50% higher than those that don’t (Robert Half)
  • 42% of employees say learning and development is the most important benefit when deciding where to work followed by health insurance (48%) (Udemy)
  • Offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position (Bridge)
  • If a job lacks growth opportunities and avenues for leadership development, 67% of millennials would leave that position (Bridge)

The must-have: A culture of continuous learning

When leadership shows they’re constantly looking for ways to improve, that creates a culture the entire company can embrace. That’s what our brave, caring, identifiable owners do when they use Engagement Multiplier surveys every quarter to gauge how they’re doing and where they can improve. It’s also a great way to find out what growth opportunities employees are most interested in.


What HR trends do you see rising in 2019? We’d love to hear your predictions on Twitter @EMultiplier