The technology available to support HR and internal communications teams has been impressive for some time. Communication, automation and sophisticated analytics have made such a difference. But what’s coming next?

Here are 7 employee engagement trends for 2019 to look out for.

1. Virtual Reality

Although the phrase virtual reality (VR) has been used for some time, its use in the workplace isn’t yet commonplace. That’s not to say it won’t be soon. For use in training scenarios such as customer management, machinery use, and other simulation exercises, VR can be a cost effective way of training people quickly and effectively. It will also give you major brownie points with your younger workforce who’ll find this far more appealing than webinars and on site training courses. A sure fire way to get your employees motivated and engaged.

2. Natural Language Processing

For HR to succeed, it’s important to listen to employees. But if you have thousands, you can’t capture the views of every one face-to-face or over the phone. That’s why automation has done so well. Surveys, polls and feedback forms have given businesses a wealth of information on how employees are feeling and how motivated they are. But the challenge is that not everyone writes in formal English. Slang, abbreviations and colloquialisms are used. And with so many of the UK working population having English as a second language, there’s a challenge there too.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is AI that enables computers to understand and process human languages. This means they can read a section of text and interpret it for analysis and use.

If your business uses a lot of remote workers, from different countries, this may be the tool for you.

3. Gamification

Number 3 on the list of employee engagement trends for 2019 is gamification.

Just as consumer brands use gamification methods to engage customers (and increase followers, build successful referral campaigns and generate more sales), businesses can use this emerging technology to engage their workforce too.

Consider the tasks that are not core to your workforce’s job responsibilities but vital for a happy business. For example, these could be a tidy office, regular social events, car-sharing, living the company values, charity work and a mentoring programme for new employees. You’re not paying the workforce to do any of these but you’d really like them to take responsibility for them.

To do this, turn it into a game whereby effort or achievements towards any of the list above result in points. Effort is recorded automatically using classification software. And the points tally is shared publicly in real time on the company intranet.

The competition will spur people on to do more than you could have thought possible.

It can also work for core day-to-day tasks like customer satisfaction, on-time deliveries, volume of sales generated. But hopefully you don’t need to resort to gamification to get people to do their day jobs!

4. Predictive Analytics

Sure, we know the value of data in helping us make decisions and understand more about past activity but the ability to better predict future patterns in behaviour is now here.

For employee engagement, you’ll be able to predict and prevent the times and causes of employee stress or dissatisfaction and look at how changes in operation might affect staff.

With staff turnover costing businesses £30,000 per year per employee, to be able to anticipate issues before they happen will save your business a great deal.

5. Training

With every new technology or system comes new ways of working and new expectations. To ensure your business can make the most of all of the new changes, training needs to be a core objective for the year ahead.

Online learning is available on every topic imaginable, from photography to public speaking, so if your company isn’t delivering personal development to a similar standard, you’ll let your employees down.

Businesses that can deliver training to all staff on multiple platforms will be the ones that see the most success in 2019. And the happiest employees.

6. Health and Wellbeing

This year, World Mental Health Day gained more attention than ever before. Furthermore, celebrities are also championing campaigns on the subject – it’s a hot topic. Companies must apply more focus to the health and wellbeing of their employees going forward, or face reputational damage.

Such a delicate subject, it’s not something an online form could (or should) address, so a safer alternative is to invest in programmes company wide to encourage people to talk to peers about their feelings and work pressures. Wellness initiatives like on-site counsellors, enforced “fresh air” time and the supply of free fruit and bottled water will also make a difference.

7. Branding

Companies spend thousands on their brand development which includes brand values, tone of voice and brand promise. The reason behind all of this is to help employees represent the company appropriately and consistently in every public interaction they have.

With new channels emerging all the time for customer interaction, consumers have countless ways to assess and critique your business. Businesses that invest in internal communication tools that make the brand clear to all employees – remote, part time and temporary – will ensure that blips in performance don’t happen.

2019 is fast approaching and if you haven’t already, you must look at how your business can integrate some of these emerging tools into its operation. As a first step, contact us at StaffCircle to see how we can improve your employee engagement today.