Employee engagement is continuing to be a key focus for businesses.

More and more companies realise that engaging the workforce has the power to increase productivity by boosting employee happiness and morale, as well as reduce staff turnover. The latter is particularly likely to be a crunch point for companies this year, with a strengthening jobs market giving employees more opportunities to take up new positions.

Technology will be the driving force behind some of the most prominent employee engagement techniques of 2016. Here are some of the key trends for this year, and the technology that will help you make them a reality.

Millennial workers and their expectations

The proportion of millennial workers into the workplace is going to be a key driving force in how employee engagement is approached. Highlighted by TINYpulse's 2015 Employee Engagement report and CIO.com, this trend could generate a real shift in workplace culture.

Now the largest generation in the workplace, millennials expect collaboration and work-life balance - both qualities that require the use of technology to succeed. In the case of collaboration to boost engagement, an up-to-date intranet and group project management tools, as well as platforms that allow face-to-face discussions between offices in different locations, will be key.

In terms of maintaining a work life balance, technology that allows for flexible and remote working, such as the use of the cloud and smartphones, will also be crucial.

Transparency

Another route to engagement via technology will be transparency. In part driven by the number of millennials in the workplace, transparency has evolved from the culture of instantly accessible information and real-time feedback.

For managers, this means making company data readily available to employees. This could be via a staff intranet or through regular company updates from top-level management (if you have multiple offices or remote workers, technology can help here too in the form of video conferencing), or a combination of the two.

Personal accountability

Another key trend identified by the TINYpulse report will be personal accountability. Increasingly, employees will take personal responsibility for their own career advancement - so ensuring that staff have a variety of opportunities for growth and development is essential.

Harnessing technology and processes that allow them to take the initiative and employers to keep track of this and give fast fastback is a way to keep that personal development at the forefront of everyone's minds.

Real-time feedback between staff and employers

Indeed, this real-time feedback will be a trend in itself. More and more, companies are realising that regular feedback is important - and that this goes both ways. While staff, particularly millennials, increasingly expect near-constant feedback on their performance, companies themselves need feedback from their employees. Understanding how team members feel about everything from major company changes to the format of meetings will give them the power to make alterations to boost staff satisfaction and, in turn, productivity. Staff survey software gives businesses the power to canvas opinion quickly and easily.

Importance of peers

Also set to be a focus is peer-to-peer recognition. Businesses are realising that a major part of overall employee satisfaction is how they feel about their peers, meaning encouraging staff bonding and collaboration is crucial. Of course, getting this right begins with the hiring process, as it's important to hire people that fit in with the company culture, but it is something that needs constant care.

Using platforms such as Campfire or Slack that allow staff to communicate easily can be extremely effective, especially if you have employees in multiple offices or working remotely. These and cloud computing solutions, which make it simple for multiple people to share and edit documents, also pave the way for a more collaborative environment that makes working across departments on a single project easier.

Employee engagement and physical working environment

A move to new offices is a unique chance for companies to design a space where employees are excited to be and to provide technology that makes it easy for employees to communicate. For us at TalkTalk Business, our move to the Soapworks in heart of media city, Manchester in FY17, is a major milestone and an exciting opportunity to look at new, innovative ways to improve employee engagement. As a technology company, it’s important that our working environment reflects our digital first culture. We want our staff to be truly proud of where they work because we believe a highly engaged team will deliver a better service for our customers.

Jane Garnsey, HR Director at TalkTalk Business