Can Technology Solve the Employee Crisis?
On top of integrated marketing execution, delivering proactive customer service and interactive experiences has become imperative for businesses to remain in the game and drive sales. As we all know, thriving in customer engagement that drives sales requires the right technology that can scale and a comprehensive strategy that can meet ever-increasing consumer expectations. Have being said, there is another key element, which is employee engagement. It may sound like common sense, yet the reality is that many organizations struggle in this area because unfortunately it is often overlooked when organizations think of meeting their customers’ needs.
According to a study conducted by Gallup after having been tracking employee engagement in the U.S. since 2000, 32% of employees in the U.S. are engaged, meaning they are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. The numbers are even more depressing worldwide where only 13% of employees working for an organization are engaged. Getting inspired by this data, StaffConnect Group, an enterprise mobile employee engagement platform provider, conducted a study to inquire whether Technology Can Solve the Employee Engagement Crisis. In the end, the results and worldwide authorities proved "YES", how, you may ask. Read on if you’d like to find out!
Speaking to CMS-Connected ahead of unveiling the results of the research, Geraldine Osman, Vice President of Marketing, StaffConnect said: "In an environment where vastly differing opinions have become the norm, it is rather telling that studies from virtually every respected analyst, research firm and government agency in this space agree -- we are in the throes of an employee engagement crisis. And what perhaps makes the crisis even worse is that these disengaged employees can often times undermine the efforts of those that are most deeply engaged." Osman also shed light on why employee engagement is integrally connected to technology: "In order to overcome this crisis, employers must seek innovative technology solutions that empower them to reach, communicate, share information and engage with employees, as well as enable employees to communicate with each other, regardless of geographic location or title. And, since you can't manage what you can't measure, the solution should offer analytics that provides the ability to accurately do so."
Gone are the days when employee engagement was only on the HR departments’ agendas. In fact, the experience that an employee has with a company is now rated as the fourth most important global trend for business leaders to address, according to the Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report 2017. The Bureau of National Affairs reports that $11 billion is lost each year due to employee turnover, while the research mentioned in my opening paragraph cites with 65 percent of all lost customers can be traced back to a disengaged employee. On the flip side, another study shows that 81 percent of engaged employees intend to stay with their current employers which leads to 22 percent higher profits for the company. With all these figures in mind, no wonder why employee engagement is becoming more and more indispensable for organizations.
Now that we have a better understanding of the impact of employee disengagement, let’s discuss how to avoid this unfavorable fate by embracing technology. Last November, one of the contributors, Barb Mosher Zinck, interviewed Eric Berridge, CEO of Bluewolf, an IBM Company, on his new book, called Customer Obsessed. During that interview, Berridge said that before you start getting concerned about the type of freedom you give employees, you need to provide them with systems that are simple to use, intuitive and prescriptive. When everything is hidden in spreadsheets on desktops when employees aren’t connected to information, that’s when they tend to make things up, make concessions and Berridge said they don’t have the information or collaboration needed to properly position products in the customer’s journey. He also brought up the importance of keeping up your digital ecosystem with the latest innovations like artificial intelligence when it comes to employee engagement and said: “Employees are getting smarter all the time. But a lot of the technology inside a company hasn’t changed. Match the evolution of your employee with the evolution of your technology to create engagement and get more control.”
Whether it is a customer-facing or employee-facing platform, technology solution providers have already seen the demand for an interaction-and-feedback loop with a one-point solution and started rebuilding the capabilities that they offer to enable organizations to facilitate interaction with and feedback from the workforce. On that note, in late June, Forrester published yet another Wave report on Sales Force Automation Solutions (SFA), and in its report, the market research firm cited that the SFA vendors shifted their focus from a sales management tool to seller empowerment channel by injecting intelligence to lead qualification and forecasting processes. “Vendors that can drive efficiencies and provide intelligent recommendations to sellers position themselves to successfully help their customers win the hearts and wallets of modern buyers.”
Inadequate Reach to Mobile Workforces
The research points out another factor that commonly leads to disengagement which is an inadequate reach to mobile workforces. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in remote working. In fact, Emergence Capital reports that 80 percent of the global workforce consists of non-desk employees working offsite, which presents a huge challenge in facilitating communication to and from everyone in the company’s distributed network. The lack of technology tools, unfortunately, leaves remote employees disadvantaged in obtaining the necessary information in a timely fashion and communicating with their colleagues and managers when needed.
To tackle this issue. One of the technology solutions that organizations can easily adapt is enterprise video content management systems. Gartner defines enterprise video content management as: "Software, appliances or software as a service (SaaS) intended to manage and facilitate the delivery of one-to-many, on-demand video across internet protocols." In other words, video enables their employees to look into the eyes of their clients and their colleagues from the other side of the world, and the right video capabilities can blur the line between the next cubicle and the next continent when it comes to collaboration and communication. Good news, enterprises are already aware of the power of video collaboration. In fact, According to Kaltura’s third annual State of Enterprise Video report, an international study that examines the evolving use of video, by surveying around 500 enterprise professionals, almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents’ organizations produce more than 5 internal web casts a year, while nearly a third produces a whopping 50 or more. The same study also claims that over 90% of respondents saw at least some value in the use of video in nearly every one of the listed organizational goals.
To put this into perspective, Cisco, for instance, believes that video collaboration plays a huge role in helping them meet the challenges of managing their global workforce as more than 40 percent of their employees work outside the United States. Faced with escalating travel costs, as well as lost productivity due to travel, Cisco expanded their use of collaboration tools as an alternative to travel. As a result, the company saves $250 million in travel costs per year by using video. In addition, 2013 Cisco Global Young Executives’ Video Attitudes Survey of 1300 managers indicated that 87 percent believe video has a significant and positive organizational impact.
Video content management systems are, however, only one of the tech tools that organizations can take advantage of to provide peer-to-peer, integrated mobile engagement solutions. Additionally, organizations can tap the potential of engagement for their entire workforce through technology solutions that can:
Deliver unique tailored experiences for various roles.
Minimize the amount of manual data entry.
Offer new efficiencies through mobile devices and apps.
Integrate with first-or third-party solutions to enrich the digital ecosystem.
Deliver AI-driven recommendations and next-best actions.
Provide social media interactivity
Measuring Employee Engagement
Let’s say as an organization you recognized the importance of employee engagement thus provided the technology tools, now what? How will you make sure that your technology investment and strategy in place have been paying off? Sure, you can always communicate and ask employees if they feel more engaged. However, depending on culture and personality, your findings from those conversations do not always necessarily reflect the truth. If your intentions are truly bolstering employee engagement to minimize the impact of disengagement such as financial, talent, and productivity loss, instead of to fulfill an apparent organizational need and "check a box", then you will need to adopt a technology solution that creates tailored dashboards and engagement “scores” with real-time insight, mapping workforce engagement at any point in time through the analytical power of big data and artificial intelligence. After all, an employee journey is no different than a customer journey.
Perks Don't Drive True Employee Engagement
If you are looking for an easy and dirty way to make your employees engaged, there are chances you will consider providing some “cool” perks such as foosball tables, free lunch, phone stipends, and frequent flyer miles. Before you do, let me save you some money because the only stage in an employee journey this tactic would work is recruiting and retaining, in other words, honeymooning. At the end of the day, employees need to work in a positive environment especially, without having to sacrifice work-life balance. To provide an environment as such, they need to be productive which boils down on being armed with the right technology so they can get things done effectively and efficiently. Employees are more interested in organizations that can transparently talk about their opportunities for growth, rather than having an all-you-can-eat snack buffet. According to Aberdeen, the emphasis on organizational openness is 30 percent higher among outperforming organizations.
Customer engagement is not a destination, neither is employee engagement. Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Nigel Fenwick says, “Without changes in the experience, perceived value decreases.” Organizations have to keep experimenting different approaches to make the experiences of employees and customers better, even though they think they’ve already figured it all out. After all, to maintain your business today and flourish tomorrow, they have no other choice but to embrace a new way of thinking. Good news, in the advent of technology, it is not hard to create a collaborative environment around integrated workflows, business processes, data streams, and applications anymore.