“There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of GE
There is no denying the fact that employee engagement has grown to become one of the prime focus of corporate business strategies. It is not just about creating a fun exciting place but creating an environment where employees would stay, strive and thrive professionally, and return the benefits to the organisations.
For the past few years, the buzzword creating a stir in the world is “Digital”. As the rapidly evolving AI, IoT, Social Media, Cloud, Big Data and Analytics becomes the talk of the corporates, it has become essential for the HR fraternity to understand its implications on all people practices, including employee engagement. The advancing technology is changing the workforce behaviour. Mere deployment of technology is not an answer anymore, not at least for the HR. Employees; millennials especially are looking for flexible and accessible digital solutions for everything.
It’s time we come up with unique and engaging HR solutions that empower the employees throughout their life cycle. The trick here is to craft solutions that enhance productivity without compromising the business goals.
Here are four ways to leverage digital intervention to create an engaged workforce:
First things First
Buying an expensive Piano will not make you a great Musician Nowadays, I see many organizations implementing high end tools and technologies, chatbots, state of the art mobile apps etc.As soon as a new technology surfaces, a rat race of who implements it first starts. A lot of organisations fail to understand that the technology itself will not transform your business or interventions. A new Learning Management system, no matter how advanced, may not meet the need of your employees if it is a force-fitted cookie-cutter solution. We need to focus on two primary things to ensure proper utilisation of technology, digital in particular.
First,the focus needs to be on getting the culture and internal processes of the organization right. You would’ve have heard and read about this multiple times but I cannot emphasise enough on this point. This is the most critical aspect for any engagement initiative to work. You need to align the processes with the culture and the overall vision of the organisation, and ensure it is reiterated as many times in as many ways as possible. This sets the tone right for everything.
Second, you don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. You may not need that new “in-trend” social platform for engaging your employees, and that is okay. What you need is the right tool, not the touted tool. You could make a choice based on the size and growth stage of your organisation; the demographics of your employees and of course, the culture that you want to propagate.
Digital Solution is there to aid you in implementing your initiatives with ease. They cannot replace the intent.
Creating a buy-in
This point is an extension of the first point, and deals with the “how” part of finding the right solution. Today, Design Thinking is helping organisations churn out world class products, services and processes. It doesn’t stop there. It helps in keeping your product, services and processes relevant through on-going iterations. Design Thinking helps in us understanding multiple personas in the multicultural and multigenerational workforce of today. This in turn helps build the finest fit solutions. The best part is that it involves bringing all the business stakeholders together for ideation and for identifying the pain points. This means you already create a buy-in, by asking the businesses what they want and proposing the solutions for the same.LinkedIn for example, has used wider community very successfully not only in using it create new products and solutions but engage employees and create fantastic Employee and User experience.
We at Change Et Al. have been able to successfully support multiple organisations in their digitization initiatives through our design thinking solutions.
The changing workforce behaviour due to the social media influence is making everyone, including your employees very impatient. Everybody wants the information to stream faster. With social media becoming an integral part of people’s lives, micro bits of information go down well with everybody. Information within one scroll of the mouse is becoming a norm. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, most users stick around less than 59 seconds on any website.
This is where we need to understand that lengthy and cumbersome digital engagement initiatives do not go down with the employees anymore. You cannot have an eight page recruitment form on your website; most of the applicants leave it midway. You cannot have a PMS system that requires numerous clicks to submit information, employees will never fill it. Today, going micro is the solution. You need to break it all down. One click resume upload attracts more applications. Bite sized information on policies and processes help a better recall. Gamification is a testimony to it. The need of the hour is to smartly provide the information nuggets at the right place, and in the right context.
Keeping it agile
90% of all the world’s data has been generated over the past two years. IBM estimates that in 2017 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created every day. This gives an insight of how rapidly is the tech world evolving. Thus a solution created today may not be scalable tomorrow. When I mentioned Design thinking, I emphasised how it helps in keeping your product, services and processes relevant through on-going iterations. The need of the hour is to catch up with the rapid evolution of technology. You need to be flexible about tinkering with your digital tools while regularly reinventing your engagement methodology. It needs a vision and alignment with the overall business strategy. Like all initiatives, employee engagement and experience cannot be a one-time effort.
Ask yourself if you were to implement the same initiative without a digital solution, will it still work ? If your answer is yes, you are ready to move ahead.
Communicate it right
A lot of digital engagement initiatives fail due to lack of proper communication around it. Your employees first need to know what is happening. They need to know the how’s and why’s of it. None of that is possible without setting the tone right at the beginning. You may have spent a lot of money on a new tool, but if you don’t communicate its benefits to your employees, train your employees on its effective usage; problem solve their issues, there are bleak chances of success of your tool. A lot of employees have told me that they do not use a particular application simply because they don’t know how to effectively utilize it. Many people managers have expressed their inability to create a buy-in from their teams due to surface level training on how to use tools. You cannot expect success without a well though through communication strategy around your initiatives. A quote that I read on the internet sums it up – “If communication is not your top priority, all of your other priorities are at risk.”
To conclude, we are at an interesting juncture where the technology has provided us a tremendous opportunity to take the engagement initiatives to the next level. If we are able to get the above mentioned fundamentals right, we could leverage this “digital era” to create the most engaged workforce.
Author- Karunesh Prasad is Chief Executive of Change Et Al. based in Singapore. He is a Design Thinking and Lean Startup practitioner and uses his global experience in HR, Lean Six Sigma, Design Thinking, Change management and Digitization to help companies drive Change and Transformation. Karunesh worked with GE for many years in Global and Regional roles in India, Belgium, Singapore and USA in roles like Global Head for Quality, Regional Head of HR, Global Head for Culture Integration and many others. For last few years, Karunesh works out of Singapore running Change Et Al and working with clients globally.