Just as the new year brings the expectation of major workplace changes, it also encourages reflection on how we can better support our people and further promote their success in 2017. In 2016, we saw a wave of organizations abandon or reimagine their annual employee engagement surveys in favor of gathering more frequent feedback. Adopting this practice, sometimes called “continuous listening,” indicates an evolution in the way organizations seek to engage, motivate, and retain their people.

But a change in survey tools, homegrown solutions, or traditional consulting firms will not be enough when it comes to engaging the workforce in the year to come. Several forces are poised to significantly impact the workforce in 2017. We predict that these forces will kickstart an evolution that goes beyond “continuous listening” – one that will make the visibility-insight-action cycle of engagement data a necessary component of effective leadership:

  1. The Latest Generation Collision

In 2017, we’ll see more than 3.6 million baby boomers retire, while more than a quarter of millennial workers will have ascended to managerial positions. Meanwhile, the next generation – Gen Z (born 1994-2010) are making their first entrance into the workforce in May 2017. Jaded from the recession and possessing a high degree of self-motivation, Gen Z seek opportunities for growth and strong manager-employee relationships when selecting which company to work for.

The transparency these generations have grown up accustomed to will be required in the workplace this year–employees will expect to know about the company’s engagement levels and the plans for improving them. Meanwhile, managers will count on having access to data regarding their team’s engagement and performance on demand, allowing them to have better quality conversations with their teams, and the opportunity to make real-time adjustments maximizing team effectiveness.

  1. HR Tech Goes From Retrospective to Real-Time (And Beyond)

As progressive organizations adopt platforms that allow for continuous reviews and manager-employee conversations, real-time feedback will be available for employers and employees alike. This expectation, according to Bersin by Deloitte Principal, Josh Bersin, will lead to an “explosion” in real-time feedback and analytics.

This year, organizations will grow to expect data that provides insights based on analysis of reams of real-time data, including engagement feedback and peripheral data points such as attrition, performance, and customer data. The most effective systems will automatically analyze this information and go on to provide real-time predictions for likely outcomes, such an an expected increase in attrition or decrease in performance, allowing managers and leaders to be proactive, rather than reactive.

  1. AI Will Become Commonplace at Work (and We Bet You Won’t Even Realize it)

With AI having infiltrated many of the technologies employees rely on both inside and outside of work, even more employees, managers, and leaders will accept AI as a necessary part of their lives in 2017. Similar to how a GPS uses real-time data to navigate complex routes and determine possible roadblocks, HR technology will be able to use this feedback to optimize efficacy and minimize potential pitfalls. At Glint, our platform is built on machine learning algorithms, and we expect other workplace software to continue to follow suit in 2017.

As a result, simply receiving more frequent data will miss the mark – managers and leaders will expect analysis to be done for them on the back-end, surfacing only the most significant areas for concern and laying the path to improving them. They will seek personalized insights as a way to improve these areas with recommended courses of action pulled from a variety of reputed sources. Continuous listening will contribute to this ability, with help from artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Listening in 2017

At Glint, we’re excited about these transitions and are proud to be launching several exciting new aspects to our platform that will empower and enable employees through 2017 and beyond. We’ll go beyond continuous listening to offer organizations with not only more frequent feedback, but also visibility, insight, and the guidance to take action.

Listening to employee feedback more frequently has become a critical component of high-performing organizations. But continuous improvement is about much more than sending surveys more often. It’s about providing intelligent visibility, powerful insights, and precise action planning, the combination of which can  transform any organization and its business performance. Organizations that have not yet adopted continuous listening are likely preparing to implement such a strategy in the near future, either in place of or in addition to the annual engagement survey.