Employee Engagement in 2019 – My thoughts and hopes


This year we’re going to be celebrating People Lab’s 10th birthday which I’m super excited about. I know it’s a cliché, but I really don’t know where the last 10 years have gone!

When we set out to build an employee engagement consultancy, I hoped that we would still be here in 10 years, but it’s fair to say 2009 was a tough time to start a business. The impact of the 2008 crash was really taking hold, budgets were tight or non-existent and I had a 3 month old baby, with two others under 5. Looking back, I think I must have been mad, but I am so happy and proud to still be here 10 years later. There will be lots of celebrating and reflecting throughout 2019, so more of that to come, but for now rather than looking back, I’m going to share some thoughts for this coming year.


The B Word

In 10 years of trading, I don’t think I have ever experienced such a time of uncertainty in the UK with Brexit looming and it’s without a doubt going to have a knock-on effect in numerous ways. But People Lab is an employee engagement consultancy, so I’ve been considering the impact of Brexit on engagement. If reports are to be believed, Brexit has taken its toll on mental health and wellbeing already. Our friends at Efficacy have written a great blog on using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help with the symptoms of anxiety and depression with respect to Brexit.

I also think Brexit will impact trust within organisations, eroding the trust we place in ‘experts’ even further. I am a big fan of David Maister’s ‘Trust Equation’, to help understand and diagnose trust issues. As you’ll see from the illustration, credibility and reliability are key components of trust, both of which have been seriously lacking when it comes to Brexit.

Although politicians may have had a problem with this historically, it’s now at an all-time low and it’s my belief that this experience impacts how we view corporations and their leaders.



The war for talent continues

There’s no doubt that the availability of talent continues to change. Again, there is the B word, but that aside, I think we would still be seeing firms stepping up their talent attraction and retention focus. My thoughts are that we will continue to see a focus on developing award-winning employee value propositions and subsequent employer brands, to help companies differentiate. And what we’re seeing more of, is consideration for how a compelling EVP translates into a fantastic employee experience, which of course then helps to improve engagement. Which leads me nicely to my next point….


Employee experience vs. employee engagement

Employee experience definitely had a moment in 2018, with lots of debates raging on twitter and LinkedIn about the similarities and differences, and whether employee engagement has had its day. Unsurprisingly, I don’t think it has, but I shared my thoughts in our most popular blog of 2018 which you can read here. Quite simply, if we get the employee experience right, employees are more likely to be engaged. And if the employee experience is poor, then guess what, less likelihood of engagement.


The impact of #metoo

Diversity and inclusion has for too long manifested itself as a set of policies and approaches, with the odd bit of training thrown in, for a vast majority of organisations. Whilst some are doing truly mind-set and behaviour changing work, and making a big difference, many are not.

I could write a whole blog on some of my own #metoo experiences, both inside and outside of work, but what the #metoo movement has done is to give people, and organisations, an understanding of just how big this problem is.

I believe that many are now starting to take the issue seriously and we’ll see a rise of much richer and more meaningful action and intervention to begin to tackle this.

I’m hoping to see more focus on unconscious bias and exploration of how we all take ownership of our own self-awareness, in order to begin to challenge our own biases.


And finally, my hopes

I really hope that 2019 is the year that we begin to make serious progress in closing the employee engagement gap­­ – that is the gap between an increased focus on engagement, with a lack of any real improvement year-on-year.

At People Lab, we have a compelling evidence base to demonstrate that engagement absolutely can be improved and can positively impact the business. As ever, we’ll be sharing with you how you can achieve this throughout 2019, and helping many more companies improve their workplace for their colleagues and customers.


What about you?  What are your predictions for the coming year? We’d love to hear your views – you can leave your comment at the bottom of this article, or keep the conversation alive through our social channels. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn








By Emma on December 31, 2018

I love this idea Paul! It is interesting in recent years how the workplace is often way behind what we experience outside of work eg with technology, day to day experience as your highlight here, and other areas too… I wonder if the traditional internal comms role could pick up on this?

By Paul Osgood on December 31, 2018


Interesting Blog Post – thank you for sharing. It has made me wonder whether your comments about employee experience could be taken further. In this era with desire for experiences in all areas of our lives (live music, comedy, festivals, Park Run etc.) should we be orientating some of our workplace experiences to mirror this? – Workplace festivals, mass engagement events, live events etc. Why should the workplace or indeed the employee experience be disconnected with real life?

Just a thought…

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