The link between employee engagement and business performance has been clearly proven. Gallup, Glassdoor, Best Companies and Great Place to Work all analyse employee engagement and the effect it has on business performance. All point to the same conclusion, businesses that have engaged employees outperform their competitors.
“Employee engagement has emerged as a critical driver of business success in today’s competitive marketplace; promoting retention, fostering customer loyalty and improving organisational performance.”
“When taken together, the behaviours of highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability” - Gallup
This correlation between business performance and employee engagement is being recognised by growth driven businesses, as evidenced by Gallup’s 2016 poll which recorded that 34% of U.S. workers were engaged, the highest EE figure since Gallup began its polls in 2000*.
But despite this positive shift in recognition, businesses are still falling behind in delivering their employee engagement initiatives. And this is due in part, to technology.
Engaging workers as consumers
In a world of digital transformation, businesses have embraced technology on the consumer side of their organisations, delivering personalised, intelligent, data driven experiences, that have transformed the way in which they interact with their customers. Unfortunately, this digital transformation hasn’t extended internally to the relationship the company has with its workforce.
Most enterprise level businesses still rely heavily on email as their primary medium for communicating with employees, with intranets, newsletters and printed literature forming the other most popular communication mediums.
A communication stack like this, makes you feel like you are back in 2005. So how do employees feel about this? And why is there such a mismatch between the innovative technology on the consumer side of the business and the legacy technology used to communicate with employees. The answer lies in the old adage, the customer comes first. And while still true, growth driven businesses need to recognise that employees are equally as important as customers.
Is it a case of rinse and repeat?
If you look at how digital transformation has changed the consumer experience, you’d be forgiven for thinking that applying the same technology to employee engagement would work the same. But the reality is very different. Some companies initially feel hesitant in introducing tablets, mobiles and smart devices into the workplace for fear that they will be productivity sinks, consuming valuable productivity time, but that’s not the case. Most professionals use two or three devices in their daily lives with Gen Y employees actually being more productive on their mobiles. The problem is that by incorporating technology into the workplace companies can inadvertently cause insecurity and anxiety rather than improve employee engagement. The wrong approach can create an ‘always on’ environment which can contribute to feelings of isolation, loneliness and burnout.
How do you effectively improve employee engagement with technology?
The answer lies with simplicity. All in one platforms are the buzz word in software and tech spaces, but if you can communicate to the entire workforce in one platform on the devices they use every day and in the way they want to consume that information, you will unify and engage your workforce.
Here are 5 ways in which a centralised tech platform can engage a workforce.
5 ways that technology can Improve employee engagement
1. Collaborative working
If your organisation is geographically spread with multiple offices and remote workers, it can be difficult to build connections between employees and teams.
A centralised employee engagement platform offers employees the opportunity to have their say on company direction or policy, but more importantly to join internal team initiatives and build connections and relationships with colleagues in other cities or countries. Technology can make a disparate team feel like a centralised office with instant messaging and notification alerts.
2. Centralised communication
One of biggest contributors to a disengaged workforce is poor communication. When employees don’t understand the overarching vision of the company and don’t ‘buy in’ to it or believe that their role contributes to it, the company and the employee are at odds. Engaged employees are the opposite of this and pull together toward a common goal.
Technology can solve issues of centralised communication with the functionality for the company to communicate directly with the employee. Internal newsletters create distance between the company and the employee. With an employee engagement platform, communication can be personalised, one to one, and empowering. If you can speak globally to all employees and make each one feel as if they are the only one, you’re talking to, you will achieve a highly driven and engaged workforce.
Communication is not just about broadcasting the company vision, its about tackling day to day issues as well and creating an environment where employees have a voice and that voice is heard. Centralised communication is one step closer to more meaningful connections between employee and employer.
3. Peer 2 Peer recognition
Positive peer relationships are vital to creating an engaged environment, but how do you create those relationships, especially in environments with remote workers or multi-branch offices?
Employee engagement platforms create a centralised social space where employees can build friendships across teams and locales. With business operations in mind, this space can be used to cultivate a commitment to business goals and any organisational change.
If you can foster an environment where employees have friends as co-workers and celebrate their contributions and achievements, you are more likely to have employees that love their job and the company they work for.
One of the biggest untapped assets a business has is it employees. The workforce is at the coal face day in day out and are the ones that intimately understand the businesses challenges and its opportunities. If you can take employee ideas seriously and create a platform that fosters innovation and ideation, you can capitalise on this source of businesses improvement.
Employee engagement platforms like Talkfreely have modules dedicated to innovation and using automation to capture and filter ideas from one central space. As an employee there’s nothing more encouraging than being heard and knowing your ideas and efforts have a genuine impact.
A workplace that focuses on innovation and acts on employee ideas will be a highly engaged environment.
5. Allow personal tech at work
Millennials are the largest groups in the UK workforce. One of the defining attributes of this group is their love of technology and having one device with them at all times. If you capitalise on this and give this group, the autonomy to work the way they want, on the devices they own and in their own way, you will improve employee engagement.
For traditional organisations it is a considerable step change and possibly not a comfortable one. But when you consider that the working day rarely fits neatly into that 9-5 slot. If you restrict technology to just company devices, the working day will end when that device is put in the drawer at the end of the day. If you allow employees to take work home with them on their own device, not only will they feel trusted, they will be empowered to put in the extra time that a particular job needed or the preparation that meeting required.
The Talkfreely platform features both Android and IOS apps, which means that employees can take the platform home with them on their own devices and really feel a part of the wider organisation. This is especially key to building relationships and social groups. It also provides that mechanism for support if an employee has had a particularly difficult day and wishes to share that experience. It is better to do that within the organisations platform where grievances can be dealt with than externally where grievances can cause reputational damage.
The most successful businesses are those that apply digital transformation inwardly, recognising that employees are indeed the life blood of any business and should be empowered with the right technology and platform to communicate and be heard. You improve employee engagement starting with a clearly defined strategy. Successful delivery is very much dependent on the technology you choose to implement. This symbiosis of strategy and technology is key to getting employee engagement right.