POST WRITTEN BY
Bulent Osman, Founder and CEO of StaffConnect.
Do you believe that the employee experience (EX) is among the top challenges facing today’s business leaders? If you don’t, you may want to reconsider.
Research compiled by Deloitte in 2017 identifies EX as the fourth-most-critical trend facing organizations worldwide. Almost 80% of those surveyed agreed that responding to workforce needs through culture and engagement must become a top corporate priority. We received similar responses in our 2018 Employee Engagement Survey: The vast majority of organizations surveyed in North America and Europe — nearly 75% — intend to improve their EX in 2018.
All Mouth, No Money
Most companies profess to care about engagement, but digging deeper reveals a conundrum. Many enterprise organizations invest in new technologies to generate competitive advantage. For example, 80% of enterprises invest in AI according to research compiled by Teradata. But our survey uncovered that many HR and communications departments lag when selecting innovative engagement technologies.
The bulk of our survey respondents admitted to using outdated tools to communicate with office-based staff and non-desk employees (NDEs). Close to 80% continue to use — gulp — email. Some pair this with other low-tech options like intranet, newsletters or even mailers. Adobe’s 2017 consumer email survey (outlined in ZDNet) validated that email is still the top form of workplace communication among enterprises.
Don’t get me wrong; despite founding a mobile engagement platform, I recognize that these older tools can help build team connections. But compared with mobile apps and engagement platforms, they can’t measure up. Consider the following:
• Today’s teams are distributed; tomorrow’s, even more so. The Deloitte report calls out two macro-trends: the rise of external workers and the impact of gig economy workers. This means that the number of NDEs is poised to explode even further. Distributed workforces face increased challenges of effectively communicating across teams, which is key to maintaining engagement.
• Out of the loop means disengaged. When NDEs get left out due to limited-reach communication tools, they can become the “forgotten workforce.” Over one-third of our study respondents had 50% or more of their workforce in non-desk positions. If a significant chunk of your workforce lacks access to information, poor morale could follow — alongside unhappy customers and lower profits. Research from Accountemps detailed in a Human Resources Director article found 33% of respondents say poor communication from management is the top cause of morale problems in the workplace.
Our data also revealed that almost none of the companies surveyed — less than 2% — are leveraging mobile apps in the engagement space. This is a shame, since mobile engagement platforms can help solve common problems with internal communication and measurement.
The way I see it, the email and newsletter approaches don’t offer a systematic method for facilitating two-way communication with all staff, including remote workers, who often lack a company email address. Today’s mobile apps can hack through these limitations via an integrated engagement platform that can allow distributed teams to receive information, share feedback and collaborate.
Mobile technology, however, can assist in measuring employees’ interaction with content and capture feedback on corporate messaging while simplifying survey-result analysis. You can build a profile of engagement across regions and functions by facilitating behavioral insights across two-way digital engagement — and gain real-time insight by mapping engagement at different points in time.
New Tools For New Times
Regardless of the method you use, though, what’s important when it comes to measurement is how you implement these types of engagement tactics. To truly move the needle on engagement, companies must use the measurement-related feedback gathered from their chosen method to make any necessary culture changes. For example, if you receive measurement input from a specific department or team that reveals concerning engagement levels across that part of the business, you can immediately take steps to boost morale. Tools like mobile engagement platforms can help simplify this stage of the process as well by making it easier for employers and leadership to respond to measurement data.
It’s one thing to give lip service to better EX and add an engagement initiative to your agenda. But if nothing changes, nothing changes. Consider whether your organization could benefit from upgraded communication technologies. If you’re still using legacy tech options as your main methods of company information sharing rather than the latest mobile engagement platforms, then you can’t expect to effectively engage your entire workforce and measure morale changes over time. This one simple switch can help your company move out from behind the eight ball and make the biggest difference in how employees experience your organization.
With EX now concretely identified as one of the biggest challenges facing today’s leaders, organizations need to keep pace with the new generation of HR reporting. Our current era of employee listening and workforce data has given rise to the emergence of engagement measurement and mobile technology as perfect partners. As we look ahead, employee engagement technology is poised to become an even more significant game-changer in the EX space. Such tools can enable companies not only to help motivate the entire workforce with a communication platform that connects them wherever they are but also to provide an intuitive method for running engagement surveys that can be easily analyzed and acted upon.
Real-time analytics give HR and managers the ability to constantly adapt and improve processes to meet employee needs — which is exactly what’s needed to increase engagement and decrease turnover. With help from mobile technology that’s designed to understand and react to the communication challenges that face nearly every organization, employers may finally have a clear path to influence the heart of EX and engagement by leveraging the ability to customize and craft how workers experience the organization as a whole.