Start with a profound desire to understand how and why your people work.
Look employee engagement up online and you shouldn’t be surprised to see a fair few articles about making the workplace more human again. More human? With the exception of certain extreme situations, the average workplace consists primarily of humans and, in fact, is largely driven by humans. So why the need to become more human?
The reality is that while many organisations strive to incorporate best practices for a whole host of workplace-driven issues, there is often a gap (sometimes wide, sometimes not) in terms of what and how they achieve this.
Take employee surveys, for example. Speak to employers and they tell you how difficult it is to get people to complete these surveys. Speak to employees and they tell you how much they distrust it and feel it’s a waste of time.
Surveys can be tedious at times, and not contribute meaningfully in the short-term (or long-term for that matter).
Often, these surveys are akin to a theoretical exercise, cumbersome and time-consuming to run. The typical perception is that nothing will change in any significant way. As employers, we need many ways to get our finger on the pulse but once we do, what do we do with such information?
Making Use of Feedback
Some years back, Aon published their Future of Engagement Survey which indicated at least two alarming issues. First, much of the employee feedback was used to look back on rather than for predictive analyses. Second, the line manager’s role in using the employee data was often not emphasised – it was the HR business partner who was the primary user of this people data.
Don’t you agree that these two things need to shift? First, this relevant and timely data should be used in a proactive and forward-looking manner so that rather than simply examining past behaviours and action, you can take steps to address issues as they surface. Second, far more people need to be actively involved not just in the collection of employee data but the dissemination of the same. The same survey also indicated how technology was not often adopted in how employee feedback was communicated – a mere 6% used electronic means such as blog posts, chat rooms and webinars to share information.
The Challenge at Hand
This issue presents a challenge in many ways, yet simultaneously, an opportunity too. With organisations now ever more dispersed, more mobile and grappling with an ever increasing data overflow, it begs the question how we can leverage technology to ease our lives, simplify processes, automate simple tasks and ultimately, improve employee engagement across as many levels as possible.
This is why tech platforms like SelfDrvn which incorporate gamification and real-time feedback are so successful – they put the employee in the driver’s seat. They involve the employee in identifying what works and what does not as well as source new ideas about potential remedial action. Most organisations have top management defining remedial action but with platforms like these, increased employee involvement means a greater degree of ownership and therefore, greater responsibility on them, for making the workplace great again. It shifts the “I-centric” viewpoint from that of the employer to that of the employee. And that’s not a bad thing.