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What We Learned About Employee Engagement in 2016

With the start of a new year, it’s wise to look back at the biggest lessons we learned about employee engagement in the past year. By reviewing our learnings we can properly establish priorities and apply it to our employee engagement initiatives in 2017. Instead of flying blind into the new year, here are the three biggest insights you should bring into your employee engagement strategy this year.

1. Unlocking millennial engagement is the key to your company culture.

Millennials are now the largest generation in the US workforce. By 2030 they are projected to make up 44 percent of the workforce.
Because of this, any company looking to improve company culture and excel in 2017 must be able to engage with their millennial employees. Unfortunately, according to Gallup only 40 percent of millennials are connected to their company’s mission. Shifting communication to digital tools, promoting open communication and having a meaningful company mission are play a role in ensuring your millennial employees embrace their roles. For some ideas, take a look at our post from earlier in the year, which includes some inspiring ways to give your millennial employees a sense of purpose.

2. Annual performance reviews are becoming a thing of the past.

The tide began to turn when Fortune 500 companies like GE and Accenture announced they would abandon yearly performance reviews. Now, according to the Washington Post, nearly 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies have abandoned annual reviews.
The truth is employees no longer stick with the same company for decades, eventually retiring with the only company they’ve ever worked for. Today’s more fluid employment environment means you’ll be lucky if your employees stay for more than three years. This is only one reason why more frequent employee reviews and feedback are necessary for improving employee engagement, performance, and retention. That’s why we’ve written extensively about performance reviews, including alternatives like sentiment analysis, pulse surveys, and employee satisfaction surveys.

3. Successful leaders must be compassionate leaders.

According to research by leadership experts Dr. Brad Shuck and Maryanne Honeycutt-Elliott, “Higher levels of engagement come from employees who work for a compassionate leader—one who is authentic, present, has a sense of dignity, holds others accountable, leads with integrity and shows empathy”.

On the flip side, people quit their jobs when they dislike their bosses. It’s not the job they don’t like, but the leadership environment they’re working in. In the past year, we’ve revealed the signs your employee is going to quit, explored the characteristics of a successful company culture, and things leaders can do to keep their non-desk employees happy. The common theme? More compassionate leadership.

When planning your employee engagement strategy for 2017, be sure to keep these important lessons top of mind to ensure your initiatives get the results you expect. Instead of wishing you had done more at the end of 2017, you’ll be ringing in the new year knowing your employees are more engaged than ever with your company.