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Employee Engagement Trends: A recap from the Future of Work Conference

Nicole MacLean
Nicole MacLean

Editor’s Note: Emplify is powered by Bluebridge, a mobile engagement platform for connecting organizations with their audiences through a branded, native smartphone app. The following post was written prior to the launch of Emplify in July 2016 and requires context of the Bluebridge brand to be fully understood. Learn more about the history of Bluebridge and Emplify on our About page.

FOW-2(December 16, 2015) Last week, Bluebridge attended the “Future of Work” conference in Boston—the ultimate conference for transforming the world of work through inspired leadership. Over the course of two days, we discovered innovative strategies for attracting, developing, and retaining top talent.

HR professionals are standing at an exciting crossroads in their fields. Companies are beginning to recognize that employees are their best asset and creating an engaging culture will be the difference between companies that thrive and companies that die. Here are some of the top trends from the conference expected to influence the future of work:

Data-driven Decisions

With increased access to “big data,” almost every business professional has become data-minded—and HR is no different. Tracey Smith from Numerical Insights presented on linking HR analytics to business value and the importance of using data to draw connection between HR and the rest of the business. Collecting and analyzing this data can provide multiple benefits to an HR department, including streamlining recruitment, adding an objective component to hiring, and proving HR’s ROI to the company. ROI can be very difficult to show in HR especially since measuring engagement has historically been non-existent. However, finding solutions to obtain data-backed feedback such as surveys or mobile apps can help HR report ROI.

Investment in Continuous Training

As millennials and Generation Z begin to make up the majority of the workforce, investing in employee development will be critical for retention. Millennials have received a bad rap for “job hopping,” leading to a drain on hiring and onboarding budgets. However, presenting employees with the chance to grow and improve their skills provides better opportunities for internal hiring. Andy Jankowski, Founder & Managing Partner at Enterprise Systems, talked about millennials wanting new experiences, which doesn’t necessarily mean finding a new job. Providing them with new experiences such as rotational programs to give insight into other parts of the business and internally promoting can prevent turnover and keep employees feeling challenged.

Generation Z differs from millennials  in that they have an even stronger work ethic and are looking for a more permanent work environment. They have excelled and challenged themselves in school and want an employer that provides executive mentorship and professional development. To attract and retain Generation Z, it’s imperative to invest in a training program that satisfies their need for continual learning.

Executives Leading by Example

The old cliché of “walking the walk” now has executives center stage and spotlit. Many speakers at the conference made reference to culture changes starting at the top. Before asking employees to follow new policies or adapt to major company changes, executives must lead by example.

“You cannot ask an employee to do a task without doing it yourself,” said Gloria Burke, Senior Director at Enterprise Systems. Whether in the corner office or sitting in the trenches, executive actions are visible, and harnessing that power can help change the entire feel of a company for the better.

Importance of Mobile & Digital

Another trend becoming more prevalent in 2016 is the adoption of digital and mobile strategies in the workplace. With over 90% of American adults owning a cell phone, it’s more important than ever to engage with employees where they are. Activating digital platforms such as social channels, internal communications, company apps, and chat tools (like Slack, Skype, Microsoft Lync, etc.) can help improve employee engagement at work.

Bluebridge’s own Santiago Jaramillo spoke about the importance of a mobile-first strategy for employee engagement. He focused on the success we’ve seen by implementing a grass-roots culture committee and internal app that serves as a one-stop resource for all employees. With a 100% adoption rate at the initial launch, our app has helped build our culture as we continue to grow in size.

The End-of-Year Survey is Dead

The biggest shift in the Future of Work is the lack of effectiveness of the end-of-the-year survey. For years, companies have been investing in long, annual surveys with the hope of gleaning insight into ways to improve employee experiences. But let’s think about the average timeline for one of these surveys:

  • 3-6 months of pre-planning, question writing, and implementation
  • 6-12 months to receive analysis from third party survey vendor
  • 6-12 months to affect change

Using the traditional method of an annual survey means not seeing results for at least 12-18 months. Between turnover and the general shifts in business, a year and a half timeline does little for truly improving a company.

Instead, the new way of receiving employee feedback should be through “pulse surveys.” This technique breaks down the questions in the annual survey into more of a frequent cadence such as weekly, monthly, or quarterly to keep a pulse on what employees are feeling. Keeping feedback requests simple and consistent actually improves engagement and allows the company to implement the suggestions much quicker.

Download our newest guide, How to Create Effective Employee Surveys, to learn more about implementing more effective, ongoing feedback.


FOW-1Exciting changes are happening in the future of work, but at the core, companies must realize that their greatest assets are fulfilled, engaged employees. Many of these trends support this realization and provide technological solutions for increasing engagement. If you’re an executive, take a look at your practices and resolve to be  more intentional with your actions and strategies in the coming year to create an engaging culture.

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