As organizations the world over have shifted to the remote work model on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that has acquired even greater importance is employee engagement. How do organizations keep such a physically distributed workforce engaged when you can only rely on collaboration tools at the moment?
What are the tools and technologies they can leverage to make sure their employees are equally engaged while working from home as they were when working from the office? What does the future landscape for employee engagement look like?
To deep dive into this, we have with us Partha Neog, the CEO and Co-founder of Vantage Circle - the leading employee engagement platform. Launched in 2011, Vantage Circe is a single platform for engaging employees through Rewards and Recognition, Wellness, Perks, Sentiment Analysis, and more. Prior to Vantage Circle, he has worked in companies like Infoedge, Hughes, Bharat Electronics across different geographies and functions, and has more than 22 years of experience. Vantage Circle is also our Powered by Partner for TechHR India 2020 where we will be delving into adaptable tech for a reset in our world of work in detail.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview-
Why employee engagement is of paramount importance in today’s world?
Employee engagement was always important but what has changed in today’s world is that if you don’t have employees who are engaged and will go beyond their job descriptions, beyond their normal call of duty, you would not have been able to manage the situation in the last four months. It is because of them that you could manage, there’s no way organizations could have planned for this kind of a pandemic situation. So what has changed today is the realization around it and secondly, that using technology to engage them efficiently. Earlier it was being used but now organizations are looking for such technologies in a focused manner.
What are some of the elements of employee engagement in today’s crisis-ridden world and in the future?
From our experience of working with various organizations and looking at our own firm, we realized that engagement is all encompassing-it’s not that you use only these two things for engagement. Everything that you use, every technology, every policy-should lead to engagement. It should not be that it causes disengagement. But there are certain elements focused particularly around engagement. First is wellness-and it is much more important today. It is no longer a tick-mark activity today and HR today is actively looking into online wellness tools. Second, comes the recognition tools-it has always been going on through town halls or in person. But that is not possible now and maybe for the next six months. Many people will be changing the way they work, so what tools can you employ for recognition in the same way as it was done in the physical world earlier?
And the third most important element is measurement-earlier you could measure the sentiment of an employee like a dipstick. A manager could just walk across to the employee’s desk and figure out his/her mood. Now you can’t do that. So you have to make sure that you just don’t rely on those end of year surveys- you have to continuously monitor the pulse of the company.
What are the trends the data around employee engagement in India highlights?
Overall, I would say employee engagement in India is considered to be higher than international levels, primarily the US, which has a lot of rich data around it. But what I say is even if the percentages are higher compared to other geographies, it is still a journey that you have to take as you can still improve your engagement levels from where you are. What is emerging now is the need for digital tools such as wellness tools as I mentioned before, which has increased in the last few months. The demand for technology tools has almost doubled since February.
What has happened is that all these technologies were earlier considered nice to have; now it is necessary to have these tools.
What are some of the tools and technologies that can be leveraged to shape employee engagement?
In every tool that you look at, you have to see how you bring in engagement. Many of the B2B tools that are present in the market actually lead to disengagement. People don’t want to use those tools as they are so cumbersome. 10-15 years back it was different, people did not have a consumer class experience. They were used to clunky tools to somehow get the job done. Now people are used to experience. So every tool that you use for the engagement should be geared towards that. And that’s what HR should base their decisions on. More importantly, they need to use measurement tools for sentiment analysis.
You have to figure out where you are in engagement before you can take steps to improve it.
Secondly, HR has to focus on recognition tools-tools that will actually align with their company values and hold strategic importance for the company. Lastly, they need to focus on wellness tools.
What would you say are some common traps to avoid when selecting requisite tools and technologies for your organization?
The first thing is to focus is on the consumer experience. The buyer and the user is different for such tools-while the buyer might be the CXO or the CFO, the user might be the HR person or the end employee. So there’s a disconnect here. The buyer might have different reasons for buying the tool-it might be cheaper or more secure while the user expectations will be different. Now you have to make sure that every tool is consumer class-it should lead to engagement. Secondly, it should be mobile-friendly. Thirdly it should be customizable-no tool will ever exactly meet an organization’s requirement to the t. So you have to do a cost-benefit analysis if you want a customized tool that takes care of your service policies.
Another factor is the service policy-maybe you need to get in expert services to help adoption among employees. Lastly, these tools should give answers to HR-they should be able to answer some fundamental questions such as whether it’s helping them align with their company values or giving them information to correlate performance.
What are you most looking forward to at TechHR India 2020?
I have been attending TechHR for a couple of years and I will miss the physical conference this year. But the great part of the virtual conference is that there are many great speakers on board this time, who I am looking forward to listening to, connecting with the community, and the Indian Ocean band!
Meet Partha and many more trailblazing leaders from the world of HR and Work Tech at People Matters TechHR India from 10th -14th August.