The 2020 pandemic brought along significant challenges. Organizations around the world scrambled to figure out how to adopt remote working while maintaining employee engagement. It was a tough and testing time for leadership everywhere. Fast forward to today and so much has changed for good. What employees need and want has shifted significantly. What worked in the past in terms of benefits, rewards and recognition, and fostering a positive team culture may not do the trick in the digital environments of today. 

So how are leading companies keeping their employees engaged in 2021? Here are 3 employee engagement trends you might want to follow to help your organization stay on track. 

Investing in mental health benefits & support 

The COVID-19 crisis significantly impacted people’s mental health. Many had to deal with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety for the very first time. In a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45% of Americans reported that COVID-19 had harmed their mental health and 19% reported it as having a major impact. This all undoubtedly had effects on how people performed at work. 

Given the impacts of stress and poor mental health on employee productivity, leaders are now making mental health and wellness a much bigger priority than it ever was before by investing heavily in resources staff can use to cope better with stress. 

To follow this employee engagement trend, you may consider offering an Employee Assistance Program that makes it affordable (or even free) for staff to access professional help. You could also offer staff mental health days on top of their regular sick days. Another great way to support your staff’s mental health and wellbeing is to re-evaluate your health benefit packages and see if it’s feasible to increase coverage for mental health services or give staff a separate mental health allowance altogether. Tech company Thinkific, for example, offers all its employees a separate $2,000 mental health allowance to use towards professional services.

Employee engagement

Investing in your staff’s wellbeing in any of these ways only makes good business sense since you’ll be taking good care of your company’s greatest asset, your people!  

Offering stipends for home office expenses

Offering remote working arrangements was, at first, a way for companies to practice social distancing throughout the pandemic, but the trend is here to stay given obvious benefits to work/life balance. A survey by Owl Labs reported that after COVID-19, 92% of people expect to work from home at least 1 day a week and 80% expect to work from home at least 3 days a week. What’s more, remote work has become the new expectation among workers. A Robert Half survey found that 1 in 3 Canadians would quit their jobs if they were required to return to the office. 

To remain competitive, companies are doing what they can to make sure their staff are set up to do their jobs from home and do it comfortably. A pulse survey by Aon reported that 1 in 5 companies was committed to helping pay for remote workers’ home office expenses. Shopify and Twitter, for example, provide a $1,000 stipend to cover items like technology, standing desks, monitors, ergonomic chairs, or headsets. 

Supporting remote work is an easy way to retain staff and attract new talent as a great company to work for in 2021 and beyond. 

Increase employee engagement through a home office upgrade

Using employee rewards and recognition software 

Rewarding employees for a job well done has lasting impacts on employee engagement, loyalty to the company, and performance on the job. Rewarded staff also feel a greater sense of connection to their organizations and a strong sense of purpose in their roles. Now that teams are working remotely all or half the time, HR has been tasked with finding and implementing employee rewards and recognition programs that can keep culture alive in virtual environments. 

One way to keep employees engaged while they work from home is to invest in purpose-built employee rewards and recognition software. These rewards platforms make it easy to give props, celebrate milestones, or give shoutouts to one another online through redeemable micro-bonuses or other tokens of appreciation.

There’s lots to consider when evaluating which rewards software to go with to keep your teams connected. Some platforms support peer-to-peer recognition so that coworkers in any team or on any level (not just managers) can thank each other for a job well done. Top recognition and rewards programs offer employees more choice in how they want to be rewarded, since not every employee will value the same things. In these platforms, an employee can browse through the company’s reward catalogue and decide how they want to use their points. They might use their rewards to purchase Amazon gift cards, pay for experiences like bungee jumping or piano lessons, or even donate their earnings to charity. 

Rewards and recognition

Want to explore what features are available in Bucket List Rewards? Request a demo and we’ll walk you through all the fun and different ways you can reward your staff. 

Remote environments certainly bring new challenges to rewarding and engaging staff though there is plenty of great opportunity to do something new! What is your organization doing to help your employees thrive and do their best work in 2021? Leave us a comment and let us know what employee engagement initiatives are giving you the best results.