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Employee Engagement in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: What Can Organizations Do?

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The fourth industrial revolution brought about a new technological revolution that changed the way organizations work forever. The rise in automation and dependence on technology has meant that HR departments are now redesigning employee engagement strategies to cater to new demands and reassess old problems.

What is Industrial Revolution 4.0?

Coined by Klaus Schwab, the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, the 4th Industrial Revolution is “a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres”.

It is primarily characterised by changes to technology and workflow due to the rise of automation. Also referred to as 4IR or Industry 4.0, it revolves around operational efficiency and connectivity through advanced Augmented Reality (AR) systems, Cloud Computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT).


This revolution is said to create new opportunities for working professionals along with greater innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness in operations for organizations by increasing productivity and lowering costs.

4IR’s Impact on the workplace

The onset of this revolution brought about various changes to the way workplaces now function. For one, the increasing integration of automation into the workplace poses the question: What is the best combination of humans and technology that will result in producing the optimal output?

There is a growing need for redesigning work structures to accommodate 4IR’s impact on the Future of Work. Business leaders are increasingly collaborating with their HR departments to reinvent job processes.

Recent research by the World Economic Forum outlines a 4-step approach to reimagine the work ecosystem. It involves a cyclical model of deconstructing jobs into their activities, re-evaluating if they can be automated and/or require human solutions, creating new jobs that combine both human and technology, and reskilling and redeploying employees with the skills needed to adapt to the future of work.

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This process nullifies the traditional way of working and demands for a more holistic connection between an employee and their organization. Employee engagement strategies need to provide employees with meaningful experiences and purpose that motivates them to better perform at their workplace. In fact, research finds organizations with higher employee engagement rates to be 21% more successful.

How Can Organizations Increase Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement can be achieved if employers are focused on creating environments that promote trust and individual growth. In this new age of working, employees no longer want to be treated as a collective unit but rather want their individual goals to be recognised and nurtured by their organizations.

Redefine ‘purpose’ & share the vision

As more and more working professionals are re-evaluating their purpose, they find themselves wanting to work in organizations where they feel like they are having a positive impact on society.

75% of the employees say societal impact plays a major role in influencing their sense of purpose at work.

It falls to business leaders to create this purpose for their employees by inspiring them about the future of their organization. This requires frequent collaboration with their HR departments to instil a feeling of purpose among employees that is aligned with the long-term business goals.

Investing in improving an organization’s culture can have a major impact on revenue, with a long-term study showing companies growing by 682% just by creating supportive work environments.

Companies that offer supportive work environments grow by 682%.

Including employees in the decision-making process can also help in building commitment to the organization. It can also be a great way for leaders to get a diverse set of inputs as well as boost overall innovation.

Build an Agile and Personalized Learning Culture

Perpetual reskilling at the workplace is now becoming a more frequently adopted practice at organizations. But in order to instill such a culture, the responsibility falls on the leaders and senior executives of an organization to lead by example and commit to emphasizing the importance of lifelong learning.

The rapid pace that automation is taking over the workplace requires constant monitoring of industry trends and skill demands.

Only 18% of HR leaders are prepared to significantly commit to reskilling their workforce.

In order to deeply embed learning into an organization’s culture, HR departments need to emphasise the cycle of continuously learning, relearning, and unlearning skills in order to prepare for the future.

Prioritize employee well-being 

4IR has resulted in employers all over the world rethinking their employee well-being strategies. Creating programs that support employees through their emotional, physical, and financial problems is vital. But for these strategies to work, they need to be integrated into an organization’s culture.

A holistic well-being strategy can only be created when organizations dive deep into their analytics and figure out the core problems that need to be solved. Analytics like employee stress levels, satisfaction rates, trust in leadership, and productivity levels can be used to create Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that actually address an employee’s needs.

Linked4HR’s expert HR Consulting team is well-versed in conducting audits that unearth an organization’s challenges and using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide detailed insights into how they can be remedied for the future.

Create a flexible rewards system

As workforces continue to become more multi-faceted and multigenerational, every employee’s needs become more nuanced and diverse. Therefore, it is impossible to create a ‘one-size-fits-all’ reward strategy that addresses all these complexities.

Instead, organizations should move to a more flexible rewards system that covers more than just giving employees a raise. Offering benefits like transport coverage, career development opportunities, hybrid working opportunities, compensation for co-working spaces or setting up a home office, buy any book policy, subscriptions to apps that benefit mental health and/or learning, learning an additional language, and mental health coverage, are gaining popularity.

This method of expanding employee engagement processes is aligned with the recent shift to more agile operating models that facilitate more project-based work, and remote working across borders.

83% of professionals in the UAE prefer working for companies that allow remote working.

Use technology to increase engagement

Historically, HR departments used to measure employee engagement either quarterly or annually with structured surveys. However, as employee engagement has started to impact business decisions and growth models on a larger scale, this data needs to be collected more frequently.

Moreover, employee engagement surveys need to utilise new digital tools that allow for the collection of real-time data that can be used to create business strategies, risk models, and growth plans. It is also important to ensure that these surveys are simple and straightforward, measuring relevant information to avoid overwhelming and fatiguing employees.


Having a strong employee engagement strategy in place can benefit organizations greatly. In the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the future of work is influenced by giving employees the support and freedom to grow in the careers and in turn increase their loyalty to the company. This will help scale up productivity, business growth, and aid organizations to stay on top of emerging technological changes.

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