Reinventing Employee Engagement Practices in 2021

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent that will survive but those who can best handle and manage change” – Charles Darwin

As the newer variants of the COVID-19 virus continues to wreak havoc in different parts of the world, Darwin’s words are echoing in business corridors. Amidst the doom and gloom, people management has taken center stage.

Employee engagement is perhaps a very subjective and abstract philosophy and has a lot to do with how companies and organizations relate to their employees on an emotional level. It can also be defined in terms of the ‘connect’ that the employee feels with his/her organization.

The pandemic has changed the employee engagement paradigm significantly. Forward thinking executives and HR managers must stay abreast with the rapidly changing employee engagement dynamic.

Let us take a look at how we need to institute change management and bring in the right employee engagement practices:


2021 is seeing the advent of a culture first trend. Remote working has led to a radical disconnect between people. This has made employee engagement an important business goal. Resolving people issues is mandatory otherwise leaders risk losing their best talent.

A people first culture can only blossom when people have enough down time, feel heard, respected and cared for. This philosophy has to percolate from top to bottom for it to be successful.


Flexibility in working hours will be the latest highlight in the year 2021. As remote working takes prominence, employees are reveling in this new-found flexibility. Businesses are encouraging this dynamic as employees are not needed for office functions.

Growing cost-efficiency has made this an efficacious trend. Close to 75% employees report better productivity by working from home. 74% said they face lesser distractions and 70% report that they are happy not being at the receiving end of office politics.


As companies are beginning to readily adapt to this new way of working, HR processes have completely shifted to the cloud. Technology has seeped into every aspect of employee engagement from performance management, bonuses, benefits and diverse employee engagement tools. This has also helped boost deliverables for quicker results.

The present generation is digitally savvy. So the best way to keep them engaged is by leveraging HR through the use of technology. Clouds are carving a formidable niche for themselves on the back of their efficiency and user-friendliness.


The cloud is closely followed by sophisticated HR tools. A rapid inundation of ML and AI is helping manage people better. Tech-savvy and tech-forward companies are astutely using ML and AI with fantastic returns on their investment (ROI).

Highly skilled and nuanced communication is enabling HR to take personalized action with respect to their employees. Employee data is being skillfully analyzed using data analysis tools. Departments are able to identify shortfalls and take more logical decisions to boost employee engagement and productivity. This will continue to be a notable trend in 2021.


Technology can be impersonal so the need of the hour is to build technical prowess while retaining the ‘compassionate’ element. Showing care, respect and empathy can boost employee morals at a time where panic runs rife. Nearly 90% HR leaders agree that empathy can solidify an organization’s employee retention prospects. Embracing humanism and compassionate leadership will continue to be an important tenet of HR.


COVID-19 notwithstanding, companies who figure in the top quartile for championing diversity will be 30% more likely to have sound financial returns despite a crumbling economy.

When people from different ethnicities and cultures come together, they offer a very diverse and refreshing perspective to problem solving. This leads to a highly innovative and creative workforce. Representation can add that missing piece to the puzzle thus enhancing overall employee engagement and belongingness.

Women’s literacy rates have seen an upsurge and so has their contribution to the workforce. The challenge is to overcome the myriad problems they face – sexual harassment, micro-aggression, pay parity, pregnancy discrimination etc.

Thankfully things are changing for the better with social media awareness and women being able to stand up for their rights. 2021 is ushering in an era where leaders will take constructive steps to mitigate these challenges.


These are just some of the employee engagement practices that we will witness in 2021. 60% companies will also showcase a wellness cover for employees. With health having a direct correlation to employee productivity, the bottom line of companies will see a drastic change.

The pandemic events have completely changed the working lives of people. Whilst the impact has been negative, it’s encouraging to see a laser sharp focus on internal communications. These trends will definitely be the proverbial lights at the end of the tunnel propelling us toward a brighter future.



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