By Anita Bowness
Gartner predicts that within two years, one in five organizations will make employee engagement a shared performance objective for human resources (HR) and IT in its 2015 report, Reimagine Your Digital Workplace.
Employee turnover is inefficient and expensive, and traditional ways of managing employee performance are woefully out of date. In today’s modern world of work, employee demand for continuous professional development, accelerated career growth, and “always on” engagement is only getting stronger. Given these increasing demands, technology is emerging as the great enabler when it comes to performance, engagement, and satisfaction.
But while Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Learning Measurement Study reports that two-thirds of organizations say employee engagement is a strategic priority, many aren’t quite sure how technology can be leveraged to optimize engagement and performance. Enter IT.
The CIO’s Role in Employee Engagement
While employee engagement is historically an HR issue, changing workforce dynamics and a competitive job market that favors candidates requires organizations to look at engagement through a new lens. The SHRM article, The Next Challenge: Global Talent Migration, by Henry G. Jackon says talent is the most critical factor for business growth. Additionally, the Deloitte University Press’ Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report says nearly nine in ten executives agree that employee engagement is a top priority for their company. And for good reason.
Employee engagement is a known accelerator of business performance, with Gallup research revealing that companies with highly engaged employees are 20 percent more productive, have ten percent higher customer ratings, and are 21 percent more profitable in its Q12 Meta-Analysis Report. And yet, in a blog post by Jim Harter titled, Dismal Employee Engagement Is a Sign of Global Mismanagement, the company finds a staggering 85 percent of employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work, leading to an approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity. With those figures, every C-level leader should be worried about engagement.
But the CIO is in a unique position to put a dent in the engagement crisis most organizations now face. By transcending functional boundaries and working closely with his or her HR counterpart, the modern CIO can help lead the charge in developing and implementing a comprehensive technology strategy that can truly engage today’s changing workforce. With a strategic view of how software tools and applications can be used to support the organization’s employee engagement initiatives, IT can play a critical role in fixing—and preventing—engagement issues that hurt productivity, retention, and bottom-line performance.
Capturing Real-Time Employee Feedback
The primary reason that employee engagement still remains so elusive is that most organizations do not have a consistent, continuous channel for collecting employee feedback. In fact, a Deloitte Insights article, Engagement: Always On, by David Brown, Josh Bersin, Will Gosling, and Nathan Sloan reports that 64 percent of organizations still only measure employee engagement annually. And how can you move the needle on employee engagement if you don’t regularly solicit feedback from your people?
Solving the employee engagement crisis begins by creating a culture of listening and understanding the things that matter to your workforce. But most HR teams have no automated, real-time feedback mechanism in place to support this capability. Saba’s 2017 State of Employee Engagement Report cites that only ten percent of companies today are leveraging software to automatically or regularly assess employee satisfaction.
Cloud-based employee engagement and feedback software can provide organizations with visibility into the state of workforce engagement and morale. It does this by providing real-time feedback opportunities to collect and measure data on employee experience and sentiment. Features such as organizational pulse surveys, NPS-based performance tools, analytics dashboards, and heat maps deliver a real-time view of engagement and performance across the entire organization, which can be easily segmented by department, location, or job function. And, when integrated with a unified talent development platform, these solutions can also analyze, identify, and drive focused and relevant action plans for improving aspects of the employee experience that can drive engagement.
By continuously capturing employee feedback, the software can gather data on real-time employee feedback and measure engagement-related metrics on a regular basis to automatically uncover important trends and insights. Armed with this insight, business leaders can then convert feedback into action, close the engagement gap, and ultimately drive better business outcomes. The key feature that enables these capabilities is embedded pulse survey technology.
Pulse Survey Technology—Enabling the Data-Driven Organization
Pulse survey technology allows employees to provide quick, continuous, and anonymous feedback on how they view themselves, management, and the organization overall by clicking on familiar emoticons in a simple portlet. These surveys are often no more than three questions. The real-time organizational feedback is aggregated in dashboards and heat maps, and administrators and managers can then easily identify areas of strength and concern at individual, departmental, and company levels based on this pulse survey data.
By measuring the pulse of the organization all year long, business leaders have the insight they need to adapt to the changing needs and expectations of employees. Over time, this regular feedback creates a clear and evolving picture of employee sentiment and engagement, allowing HR leaders to easily create and implement action plans to address the areas of need—from learning and development to compensation and recognition.
Solving the Employee Engagement Crisis
Employees today want the opportunity to give input and feel connected to the business, but for a number of reasons—from a lack of feedback channels to the belief that nothing will come from their feedback—they don’t provide it. But IT leaders can help the business get around these barriers. Leveraging technology to create a channel for employees to provide frequent and consistent feedback—and to do it anonymously—can have a real impact on engagement.
In today’s war for talent, technology is more important in the HR landscape than ever before, and progressive organizations are increasingly recognizing the role IT can—and should—play in solving engagement issues. By deploying a real-time engagement and feedback tool with embedded pulse survey technology, organizations can assess employee engagement levels and potential retention risks, as well as identify problems quickly and act immediately on the data. And with these deep insights, organizations can finally improve employee engagement to boost productivity, reduce turnover, and improve profitability. SWM
Anita Bowness is the global practice leader for Saba Software. In this role, she draws on nearly 20 years’ experience in consulting and professional services to help HR leaders recruit, engage, develop, and retain their talent. Bowness’ extensive experience extends to the areas of recruitment, onboarding, performance management, learning and development, succession planning, organizational development, competency mapping and change management. Her consulting experience has spanned many sectors, including IT, government, defense, retail, telecommunications, healthcare, education, logistics, and professional services.
Nov2018, Software Magazine