Cerkl Broadcast
Cerkl Broadcast

How to Use AI in Employee Engagement in 2024

More and more companies are using AI in employee engagement to improve impact. It’s a challenge to get it right. We’ve got you covered.
Written by: Penny Swift
Ai in employee engagement
Published: February 12, 2024
Internal Comms Audit Guide

Audit Your Internal Communications

Strategy is an important component of internal communications. Ensure you’re communicating through the right channels at the right frequency with our Internal Communications Channel Audit worksheet.

Keeping a global workforce engaged is a huge challenge. Companies that get it right are generally innovative, forward-thinking, and driven to succeed. They identify the importance of employee engagement and the role it plays in enhanced employee performance and productivity. 

In the past couple of years, an increasing number of organizations have started using artificial intelligence or AI in employee engagement, with remarkable results. 

Many have learned that AI streamlines tasks, accelerates talent acquisition, fosters engagement, and reduces turnover, offering a superior employee experience. As long ago as 2019, a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) study showed that a staggering 88% of organizations globally leverage AI in HR. And, it only gets better.

benefits of AI in HR

While they don’t identify employee performance data or link AI to employee engagement, the IBM Global AI Adoption Index 2023 shows how the use of AI in a business context has grown.  According to the 2023 Index, 42% of enterprise-scale, 1,000+ employee companies surveyed use AI (actively) in their businesses compared to 35% in 2022. Another 40% said they were exploring or experimenting with AI. Of the companies already using or exploring AI, 59% said they intended to accelerate and increase their investment in the technology. 

However, there are barriers and challenges for many. The IBM survey reveals that 33% found that limited AI skills and expertise were preventing deployment. They identified a need to hire employees with the right skill sets. Additionally, 25% said there was too much “data complexity,” and 23% had ethical concerns.

AI and Employee Engagement: How are They Connected?

As defined in a conference paper, A Review of The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Employee Engagement, AI enables machines to mimic human cognitive processes and have the capacity to reason, decide, learn, and develop.

The paper, written by Professor Prabhat Mittal and others, focuses on the link between AI and employee retention in the service industry. It talks about how AI-supported technologies are revolutionizing everything from hiring to employee engagement

“AI is seen to perform better than humans by increasing talent retention and lowering attrition rates.”

Prabhat Mittal et al

In its 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report, Qualtrics reveals that the more engaged employees are, the more open they are to using AI at work. According to Sarah Marss, Qualtrics director of EX Strategy Execution, an engaged employee who has a positive experience will recognize that AI is enhancing the experience. But, if employees lack trust, they will blame AI for increasing the poor behavior and decisions they think they have seen. 

The report states that 53% of engaged employees say they’re comfortable with AI at work, versus 30% of disengaged employees. Further, 65% of the C-suite reported being comfortable with AI, versus 46% of managers.

Another Qualtrics study indicates that 68% of employees believe some jobs are at risk because of AI – 23% believe their own jobs are at risk.

“Generally, the more positive you feel about your organization – the more trust you have in it – and the more senior your role, the more likely you are to believe that your organization will use AI for your benefit. You also trust that AI will make you more productive and efficient at your job.”

Sarah Marrs

Mechanisms that Connect AI and Employee Engagement

AI and employee engagement are connected through various mechanisms:

  • Personalization: AI algorithms can analyze individual preferences, behaviors, and feedback to personalize communication and experiences. This fosters a deeper connection between employees and the organization.
  • Feedback analysis: AI-powered sentiment (mind-reading) analysis tools can analyze employee feedback from surveys, social media, or other channels. This enables organizations to understand employee sentiment and address concerns promptly, improving employee engagement.
  • Predictive analytics: AI can predict trends and patterns related to employee engagement based on historical data, enabling proactive measures to enhance engagement before issues arise.
  • Learning and development: AI-driven learning platforms can provide personalized training and development opportunities tailored to individual employee needs and career goals. The use of these platforms promotes continuous learning and engagement.
  • Workflow automation: By automating repetitive tasks and administrative processes, AI frees up employees’ time, allowing them to focus on meaningful work that aligns with their interests and strengths, again enhancing employee engagement.
mechanisms that connect AI and employee engagement

Ultimately, AI empowers organizations to understand, connect with, and empower their employees in ways that improve and enhance their engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.

Limitations of Traditional Approaches to Employee Engagement

Recently, Tarel Kamil, the founder and CEO of Cerkl Inc., was a speaker at the 11th Annual Strategic Internal Communications – West, hosted by the Advanced Learning Institute (ALI). Held in San Francisco, it is ranked as the #1 top-rated conference for internal communicators. 

Tarek’s talk, A.I. Saved Our Inboxes (and we couldn’t be happier) focused on the experience that California State University (CSU), Stanislaus has had since they started using Broadcast in 2018. It tracked what their internal communications — which were originally primarily one-off emails — were like between 1957 and 2017 and how they have evolved after implementing Broadcast.  

Looking back at the traditional approach CSU Stanislaus followed before 2018, it’s easy to see its severe limitations. Apart from the fact that they were limited to one-off emails, inbox stuffing was a major audience pain. Also, there were no analytics and no ability to schedule emails. There were no design “guardrails” in the form of messages built outside the tool and forwarded. Commonly, there were accessibility issues as well. 

These are, in essence, typical limitations organizations faced — and sometimes still face — when they use (or like CSU Stanislaus used) traditional approaches to employee engagement. 

How CSU Stanislaus Changed its Approach to Employee Engagement

After implementing Cerkl Broadcast in 2018, CSU Stanislaus identified these impacts that continue today:

  • Email blasts and other communications can be personalized to each individual recipient
  • Messages where need-to-know information is always the lead
  • There is an increased content reach
  • The staff time needed to create newsletters has been eliminated
  • Full analytics are now available
  • They have constant access to a microsite with past content
  • They can give employees the opportunity for constant learning

The image below shows how Cerkl technology changed the way they approached internal communications. This, in turn, enabled them to change their approach to employee engagement.   

changed approach to employee engagement

Takeaways from the Conference

Those attending the conference learned how CSU Stanislaus benefited. This is how work should be, and Cerkl Broadcast will help you ensure it works for you too:

  • Personalization drives engagement
  • AI is perfectly suited for “mass personalization”
  • Automation saves time
  • We need to listen and learn about our audience
  • We must recognize the importance of data

5 Strategies to Apply AI in Employee Engagement

AI has the potential to be a powerful tool for boosting employee engagement. However, it’s important to remember that AI is a tool, not a solution in itself. Implementing AI for employee engagement must be done thoughtfully and ethically, with a focus on human-centered design and clear communication. Employees need to be involved in the process and for them to understand how AI is being used to benefit them.

In Striking AI Gold for Internal Communications & Employee Engagement, Bill Bain, head of communications at Arch Calderon Inc. in New York urges organizations to look ahead responsibly. He cautions that transparency, fairness, and a healthy respect for privacy need to underpin every AI application. This, he says, will ensure that while technology improves communication, it does it ethically and mindfully, prioritizing employee well-being and trust. 

“Maintaining ethical standards in leveraging AI tools is imperative as teams navigate this transformative journey.”

Bill Bain

With that in mind, here are five strategies that you can use to use AI to improve employee engagement ethically. All five contribute to the broader goals of the core strategies highlighted in the next section.  

#1 Virtual Assistants for Employee Support

Imagine having an AI assistant available 24/7 to answer employee questions, guide them through HR processes, and offer instant support, freeing up HR teams for strategic initiatives. Today, it’s a reality that empowers employees with faster resolutions, fostering a sense of accessibility and responsiveness, leading to higher engagement. 

#2 Real-Time Feedback and Recognition

If you don’t provide employees with real-time feedback they can easily become disillusioned, thinking management doesn’t care about their input.

AI can analyze data and provide regular, objective feedback on performance and areas for improvement, promoting a culture of continuous learning. Personalized recognition based on data reinforces positive behavior and motivates employees to contribute their best work, boosting morale, engagement, and employee satisfaction.

In Employee Engagement in the New Normal: Artificial Intelligence as a Buzzword or a Game Changer? Akansha Mer and Avantika Srivastava highlight how organizations can use virtual assistants to connect and communicate in real-time. AI tools like chatbots are, they say. Furthermore, they are bringing about a drastic change in the workplace by supporting employees when and where they need it the most. Their view is that in the new normal, employee engagement (with the help of advanced AI algorithms) will help organizations understand employee behavior through quick engagement surveys

“Real-time responses to frequently asked questions via chatbots help employees type their questions and get a prompt automated response. It not only saves time but also delivers quality information. Thus, it improves the total work experience of the workforce.”

Akansha Mer & Avantika Srivastava

#3 Automated Performance Management

Automated performance management eliminates tedious performance reviews with AI-powered systems that track progress, identify strengths and weaknesses, and suggest development opportunities. This frees up managers’ time for coaching and mentoring while empowering employees with data-driven insights for growth. It also fosters employee engagement.

#4 Personalized Learning and Development

AI can tailor learning paths and resources based on individual strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This empowers employees to pursue personal and professional development, fueling a sense of ownership and purpose.

Additionally, adaptive learning platforms leverage AI to adjust content and pace to each learner, maximizing engagement and knowledge retention.

#5 Predictive Analytics for Employee Well-being

AI can analyze data to identify potential burnout, stress, or disengagement before these issues escalate. This allows for proactive intervention through targeted support or well-being resources. By prioritizing employee well-being, AI helps to create a positive and supportive work environment, fostering loyalty and long-term engagement.

Benefits of Using AI in Employee Engagement

Core strategies for successfully using AI in employee engagement are personalizing experiences, improving communication and collaboration, and increasing efficiency and empowerment. These broader strategies drive true employee engagement and a positive work environment.

Personalized Experiences

AI can be used to identify individual strengths, weaknesses, and interests, and recommend personalized learning paths and resources. This empowers employees to grow and develop, fostering a sense of ownership and purpose.

Virtual coaches powered by AI can offer guidance and support. This can help employees set goals, navigate challenges, and envision their future within the company. The personalized attention can also contribute to increased motivation and satisfaction.

AI can effectively analyze data and provide regular, objective feedback, helping employees understand their performance and areas for improvement. This form of employee performance data can be more efficient and less biased than traditional feedback methods, promoting a culture of continuous learning.

Improved Communication and Collaboration

Chatbots and virtual assistants can answer employee questions, handle administrative tasks, and provide instant support, freeing up HR professionals for more strategic initiatives. This fosters a sense of accessibility and responsiveness, leading to higher engagement.

AI can analyze internal communications to identify potential issues and areas for improvement in company culture or employee well-being. It allows for proactive intervention and fosters a more positive and engaged work environment.

Furthermore, AI can analyze team dynamics and suggest optimal team compositions based on skills and personalities. This can lead to more productive and collaborative teams, where individuals feel valued and appreciated.

Increased Efficiency and Empowerment

Repetitive tasks are boring, but AI can handle many of these efficiently, including routine data entry or scheduling. So, by using AI, companies can free up employees’ time for more creative and strategic work. This reduces burnout and allows employees to focus on their strengths, leading to increased satisfaction and engagement.

AI-powered apps can suggest flexible work arrangements, childcare options, or wellness resources. It demonstrates concern for staff well-being and empowers them to manage their work-life balance effectively, leading to higher employee engagement.

Remarkably, AI can identify and reward individual and team achievements based on objective data. This personalized recognition reinforces positive behavior and motivates employees to contribute their best work, improving employee performance.

benefits of using AI in employee engagement


AI Technologies and Their Applications in the Workplace

AI is rapidly transforming workplaces around the world, impacting nearly every aspect of work. From automating tasks to personalizing learning and development, AI technologies are revolutionizing how we work and interact with our jobs. 

Here’s a glimpse into some key AI technologies and their applications in the workplace.

Machine Learning (ML)

ML trains computers to learn and improve without explicit programming. Applications include:

  • Predictive maintenance that anticipates equipment failures and optimizes maintenance schedules.
  • The ability to identify top candidates and personalize onboarding experiences.
  • The ability to detect and prevent fraudulent activity in financial transactions.
  • Provide customer service via chatbots and virtual assistants that provide 24/7 support and answer customer queries.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP enables computers to understand and process human language. Applications include:

  • Sentiment analysis that provides an understanding of employee and customer sentiment from emails, surveys, and social media.
  • Automatic summarization that enables us to quickly grasp key points from lengthy documents and reports that would normally be very time-consuming to summarize.
  • Text-to-speech and speech-to-text translations that improve accessibility and enable hands-free interaction.
  • Machine translation that breaks down language barriers for global collaboration.

Computer Vision

Computer vision equips computers with the ability to “see” and interpret visual information. Applications include:

  • Safety monitoring that identifies potential hazards and ensures workplace safety.
  • Quality control via automated visual inspections and detection of defects in products.
  • Smart cameras and access control secure facilities and monitor employee movement.
  • Self-driving vehicles that revolutionize transportation and logistics within all sorts of companies.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA automates repetitive tasks using software “robots” for increased efficiency. Applications include:

  • Automation of repetitive tasks that frees up employees for more creative and strategic work.
  • Data entry and processing functionality that enables employees to handle large volumes of data with accuracy and speed.
  • Customer service interactions that enable employees to respond to basic inquiries and route complex ones to human agents.
  • Back-office operations that streamline administrative tasks and improve efficiency.

Cerkl’s AI in Employee Engagement: A Success Story

Cerkl has been empowering organizations through Broadcast, its AI-powered platform since 2018, all the while constantly improving the software to enhance employee engagement. You’ve seen how Broadcast has enabled CSU Stanislaus.

Another company that Cerkl has empowered is Standard Textile. This company develops, manufactures, and distributes multiple-use textiles to 90 global markets. They also joined forces with us early in our journey. They wanted to implement AI specifically to improve employee engagement through our AI-powered platform to increase email click-through rate (CTR).

With such a large, diverse workforce, internal communications had always been a focus for Standard Textile. But communications manager, Melissa Reynolds, said the old ways weren’t working anymore. Before switching to Cerkl Broadcast, her office was using labor-intensive paper newsletters and emails to communicate with associates. And the generalized publications didn’t satisfy associates’ need for information.

Her concern was that people wanted to receive more frequent communications and updates about what was going on. But this wasn’t as easy to facilitate.

Standard Textile has always been an innovative company. They approached Cerkl to improve employee engagement, save staff time, and receive insights into what employees want. “Cerkl just gave us something a little bit new, a little bit different,” said Melissa.

Unlike some software solutions, Melissa said Cerkl was easy to learn.  

“The design and user experience is very friendly as a content creator. If I  have any questions or I need training or support, I get answers almost immediately.”

Melissa Reynolds 

Employee Engagement Before Cerkl

Before Cerkl, Melissa and the content team had to guess what employees wanted to read. Cerkl’s Insights gave the Standard Textile content team a complete overview of staffers’ interests, down to each individual subscriber. Cerkl tells Standard Textile what topics interest staff, what content performs well, and who is becoming more or less engaged — all because of using AI in employee engagement.

Once they had access to data behind their communications, Standard Textile was able to tailor new content and give people the information they really wanted. They could get a better sense of employee engagement issues, including what they were interested in and how frequently they were accessing content. 

Employee Engagement After Cerkl 

Switching to Cerkl Broadcast gave Melissa and her colleagues more insight than they’d ever had before. With an average open rate of 100% and a lifetime average email click-thru rate (CTR) of 71%, Melissa could immediately tell Cerkl was working. They also got “tremendous” feedback from employees.

Beyond the statistics, they could see that using AI was improving employee engagement and helping to develop a stronger company culture. 

“If you’re considering Cerkl for internal communications you should know that it’s a simple-to-implement solution. It’s something that’s going to make an immediate impact right away.”

Melissa Reynolds 

What’s Next?

You can also introduce AI in employee engagement with Cerkl Broadcast. Our AI-powered platform delivers personalized emails and intranet content to engage and inform employees. Join millions of satisfied employees who trust us to streamline their companies’ communication and email click-through rate (CTR). 

For starters, we can help you assess how well your existing internal communication program is working. This will enable you to evaluate how well you engage with your employees. You can access our free audit template here. Then you can reach out to us and we can help you improve your existing program or structure a new one. We are also available to assist you with your audit. 

FAQ

How is AI used in employee engagement?

AI is commonly used in employee engagement to personalize experiences through learning, career coaching, and feedback. It uses sentiment analysis to understand the emotional tone behind written words and predictive analytics to identify factors affecting engagement. This is particularly useful to accurately review feedback and assess employee satisfaction. It also boosts efficiency by automating tasks and using work-life balance tools.

How can AI be used in employment?

AI can be used in employment for tasks such as resume screening, candidate sourcing, skills matching, and automating administrative HR processes. It is also very useful for applying adaptive learning paths during training to ultimately improve employee performance.

How is AI beneficial to employees?

AI benefits employees by streamlining repetitive tasks, providing personalized learning and development opportunities, and enhancing job satisfaction through improved work-life balance and reduced workload. It also empowers employees with efficient tools and improves communication and collaboration.

Don't forget to share this post!

How to Achieve Personalized Content Delivery at Scale

How to Achieve Personalized Content Delivery at Scale

Personalized content delivery refers to the practice of tailoring online content to an individual’s interests and preferences. It involves using data on a person’s behavior, browsing history, demographics, and other factors to create a unique experience for each user.