The digital water-cooler: Using technology to engage your employees

It goes without saying that companies with an engaged and happy workforce generally experience better attendance, loyalty and a reduced staff turnover.

The digital water-cooler: Using technology to engage your employees

It goes without saying that companies with an engaged and happy workforce generally experience better attendance, loyalty and a reduced staff turnover.

However, a 2022 survey from Gallup concerningly found that just 9% of UK workers feel enthused by their work. The report went on to state that those businesses that do have an engaged workforce have on average 23% higher profits that those with dissatisfied employees.

The Great Resignation has made it vital for businesses to attract and retain the very best talent. While most companies are cognisant of the issues around employee engagement, factors such as the changing demands of the workforce, and crucially, the digital landscape of the working world must also be considered.

Investment in digital transformation is present in every sector, so it is important not to overlook how technology can also play a role in staff engagement.

Social recognition

A survey conducted by Wildgoose discovered that nearly 3 in 4 UK employees believe they deserve more recognition for their work, with only 1 in 20 believing they are given fair recognition for what they do.

This, of course, results in a loss of motivation in the long-run. Given the prevalence of instant messaging systems for business use, these, along with social media platforms, can be used strategically to share praise for the work of employees company-wide, while also encouraging peer-to-peer recognition.

While it may seem like a small detail, it can go a long way towards opening up lines of communication and building a positive working environment where everyone’s contributions are recognised. Encouraging this kind of peer-to-peer recognition also means teams can continue to stay connected and motivate each other, even during times when leaders and managers are removed from the dynamics going on within specific teams and departments.

Connecting teams

According to Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Mental Health Whitepaper, 63% of Gen Z and 62% of Millennials prefer a hybrid working arrangement. However, the same whitepaper also reveals that 1 in 5 Gen Zs and Millennials report flexible working has made it difficult to form connections with colleagues.

This is the dual-edged sword of remote and hybrid work. For businesses to truly reap the benefits of these new styles of working, they must be implemented alongside technologies that allow for meaningful communication between employees, leaders and departments.

Tools that streamline functions such as file sharing, project management and shared whiteboards also help to remove potential stumbling blocks in communication between remote and in-office teams, keeping employees on the same page as one another and engaged in collaborative projects.


Gamification techniques have experienced a growing popularity amongst businesses and with good reason. At their core, they involve using game mechanics to boost engagement with business functions and achieve specific aims and outcomes.

Mechanics may include things such as leader boards, challenges, points and achievements, which are used to motivate employees and tap into a desire for friendly competition.

In the case of hybrid or even global teams, this organic interaction is particularly important, as it gives those a chance who may not normally socialise on a day-to-day basis to meet each other through enjoyable competition.

When implemented correctly, tools that allow for the gamification of business activities can improve the employee experience, providing instant feedback and increasing motivation and engagement by making core business enjoyable and interactive.

The digital water-cooler

Though in many ways we have never been more connected, with social media, instant messaging and video conferencing at the touch of a button, truly using tech to your advantage to engage a workforce means going back to basics and building those team relationships.

The introduction of hybrid and remote working on a large scale has changed the working landscape, and has made the restoration of those “water cooler moments” that might otherwise happen over coffee breaks or chats with colleagues even more important. 

Transferring them into a digital context with the strategic use of tools and platforms will enable technology to work for a business, keeping relationships strong, aligning employees with company values, and ultimately making for happy, productive and engaged workers.

Paul Rhodes
Paul Rhodes

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