How Communication Drives Digital Employee Engagement

By Vera Lawrencia |06-01-2021 | 4 Min Read
How to Implement Employee Engagement Initiatives at the Workplace?

It has long been established that keeping the workforce engaged is crucial. Companies with engaged employees are not only 21% more profitable, but 33% of employees also cite boredom as the reason for quitting.

Until recently, most managers focused on in-person employee engagement as the bulk of business processes and operations were physical. Some more established HR departments may have started exploring digital employee engagement, but only at a surface level.

Companies with engaged employees are not only 21% more profitable, but 33% of employees also cite boredom as the reason for quitting.


Little did we know that a pandemic would hit and companies would have to digitise most, if not all, of their operations, including employee engagement.

Although it was initially difficult to adapt, surviving companies clearly show us that it is not impossible.

Is digital employee engagement as good as physical engagement? Digitalisation is not a bad thing. Before the pandemic, the world was indeed already heading in this direction. 

It's only a bad thing when we don’t know how   

That said, digital employee engagement is actually more important than offline engagement. ‘Why?’ you may be wondering. This is because people are more prone to feel isolated when there is a lack of face-to-face interactions, especially when their private lives face the same restrictions as to their work lives. 

With face-to-face engagement, communication plays an important role in making the employees feel valued and involved in the company. The same applies to digital employee engagement. When you communicate, you can easily connect different people from different levels of the organisation to each other. All employees, whether from executives to upper management, create one big community and get to have that sense of belonging to the company.

Malaysian Telco Digi is one company that tried to implement digital employee engagement throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO). 

Before the pandemic, Digi was already a proponent of open and transparent communication. Elisabeth Stene, Digi’s Human Resource Officer, said that they practice this by having weekly, monthly, and quarterly events and an annual survey to gauge the effectiveness of their engagement attempts to wrap the year up. 

Without communication, engagement simply does not exist.


Digi had also begun exploring digital employee engagement prior to the pandemic. They had been using Workplace by Facebook as an internal social networking tool, e-bulletin, and a separate workforce management app developed by Digi as digital engagement channels.

Then, when MCO began, Digi ensured that their employees had as much normalcy as possible and remained as connected as they were before. They did this by delivering the same engagement activities they had been having, only virtually. 

Moreover, they increased the frequency of their communications by changing quarterly events to monthly, monthly events to bi-weekly, weekly events to daily, and so on. 

How well did these initiatives work?

Elisabeth mentioned that they were able to evaluate themselves by collecting surveys and they showed 99% of the employees affirming that they felt well-connected virtually with their teams, while 90% said they had the necessary tools to work from home or offsite.

Many companies have begun using customised apps as an internal social network. In fact, some apps, like Happily, serve as a social network for front end users (employees) while continuously collecting real-time and accurate feedback on the back end for HR and employers. 



Is this result perfect? No. But is it good enough? Considering how fast things have been changing in the past year, this result is definitely something commendable.

It is still too early to judge what kinds of methods are best when it comes to digital employee engagement. The real issue here is how each initiative can last in the long term, eventually digitalising the whole process of employee engagement as flawlessly as possible. 

Companies out there will have to keep trying different methods and revamping their systems in order to know which works, and which doesn’t. 

In the meantime...

What we can infer here is that communication is the only constant when it comes to making employees or people in general engaged in any kind of setting. If employee engagement is at risk even at the office, the new norm of working-from-home means that leadership should be more alert than ever to keep their workers happy. 

Without communication, engagement simply does not exist. 

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Business

Tags: HR

Vera Lawrencia is a Leaderonomics Superintern under Research & Business Intelligence. She is passionate about reading, writing, research, and learning just about anything that she can get her hands on. One day, Vera hopes to explore the world and experience the unique cultures out there.
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