A number of things impact engagement such as good management, autonomy, appreciation, etc., but today's topic is how technology can drive higher levels of engagement.
(I know, you didn't see that coming at all.)
Let’s face it, consumer technology has changed the face of business. The mobile device is today’s desktop. People shop with their phones. They’re empowered in their consumer lives and expect an intuitive, personal experience at work, too.
Social technology has also changed how people expect to work. Millennials in particular have grown up with collaborative technology and feel at home in open environments where they can share information and ideas.
In today’s social economy, where employees and customers are connected by the Internet and social networks, technology is a key ingredient to attract and engage people who are used to personal laptops, the Internet, social networks, mobile phones, and online consumerism.
Let’s look at some of the ways technology can impact engagement:
Accuracy - To drive engagement it’s important people believe that they matter to the organization. However, in order for someone to feel they matter, you need to get their name right. You need to get their job right. You need to get their pay right. You can't get it wrong very often and still have someone feeling you care about them. However, having accurate data requires business solutions that are easy to use so that people can and will use them and take ownership of their own personal information.
Productivity - Not surprisingly, you don’t find too many highly engaged people spending lots of time correcting HR data or trying and failing to submit expense reports because these are not productive or engaging activities. If basic business processes are quick and easy to complete and provide the data support needed to make the right decisions, people can finish them quickly and move on to more interesting activities.
Communication - Good management and teamwork require regular communication and feedback. Technology isn’t a replacement for actual conversation but it can facilitate regular dialog with online chat capability, invitations to give feedback, formal and information performance evaluations, comments and reminders.
Collaboration - Engaging systems help people network, collaborate and share information, which have been shown to drive higher levels of performance and innovation.
Autonomy - Dan Pink fans will recall that autonomy is one of the three drivers of engagement but autonomy requires trust and trust requires accountability. The right technology can provide guidance as well as immediate visibility into what’s going on, so that problems can be identified and corrected immediately.
Transparency - This is the arguably most important point of all. Managers need transparency into the people who work for them so they can provide coaching and growth opportunities. Business leaders need insight into who the best (and worst) managers are. If you have live, accurate data around engagement, recruitment, turnover, absence, payment, grievances, performance, etc., you can start to make better assessments about things that impact engagement.
I’m guessing the CIO at your company isn’t invited to many discussions about workforce engagement but maybe that’s an oversight in today’s social, collaborative, networked world.
Laura Schroeder is EMEA product marketing director at Workday, headquartered in Pleasanton, CA. She has nearly fifteen years of experience envisioning, designing, developing, implementing and evangelizing global Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions and holds a certificate in Strategic Human Resources Practices from Cornell University. Her articles and interviews on HCM topics have been published in the US, Europe and Asia. She lives in Munich, Germany and enjoys cooking, reading, writing, kick boxing (well, kicking things) and spending time with friends and family. If you want to read more from Laura, check out her talent management blog Working Girl or follow her on Twitter @WorkGal.