Using tools and technology in the current situation has become more important than ever for improving employee engagement. How can organizations do so effectively? Having worked with various clients, Partha Neog, CEO, Vantage Circle suggests the following measures:
What is Employee Engagement?
There are a lot of definitions of employee engagement on the web, but according to Partha, he resonates most with the following:
It is an instinctive feeling of responsibility towards the organization you work for. Think about it as a parent-child relationship. You don’t actually have a job but you adapt to the situation. Similarly, the feeling of responsibility gets affected by a lot of factors, like a sense of purpose, your own personality, external environment. Some of those things are outside HR’s control. But it's HR’s job to make the environment as conducive as possible and to keep their employees engaged.
Talking about today’s situation, Partha explains that today nobody might have planned for this Black Swan event. Most of the HR leaders were pleasantly surprised with the way their organization has adapted to the change. This is because the employees are engaged and hence can adapt to the situation.
Favorable job attitudes have a stronger relationship to organizational outcome in bad economic times than they do in normal or good times: Gallup Research.
It basically says that the correlation between the employee engagement and organizational outcome is stronger during bad times. It's pretty much like a cricket match, when we are winning the series, everyone is happy and no one sees any problem. We lose two of them, and suddenly you start seeing all the problems and blames coming out. It is the same with companies wherein we see that good situations hide a lot of problems which we have in employee engagement.
What is not employee engagement?
Employee engagement is not employee entertainment. Happy employees may or may be engaged. We cannot assume that if an employee is happy, he/she is engaged. Sincere employees, who do their job on time and are dedicated towards their job are engaged or should be assumed to be engaged. Engaged employees will leave the company once they find better opportunities. But organizations should ensure that as long as they are there, let there be a happy marriage. Employee engagement is not solely HR’s responsibility, but it is HR’s responsibility to create an environment which helps in getting the employees engaged and gives them a feeling of responsible for it.
The stats available will differ from company to company and from industry to industry. But there is always a scope of moving ahead of wherever you are. The tools and technology will truly help in this journey.
How do we see the future?
Vantage circle has been working in this space of almost 10 years now. According to Partha, there are two major things that are going to happen in the near future.
- Employee engagement is going to become the core: Today HRIS is the core and everything else surrounds it. With core, it doesn’t mean that it will lose its very meaning but the differentiating factor then becomes the employee engagement tools and technologies that you will be using. So, definitely HRIS is going to be important but the differentiator is going to be the core.
- Services on top of tech stack: Lot of companies buy those tools, space and technologies and try to use these platforms but a common complaint pointed towards it being basic. There will be a layer of expert services which will come up and help the organization adapt and sustain itself for a longer period of time.
Engagement landscape in terms of tools
The levers of engagement still remain the same. One lever of engagement is for the leadership, keeping in mind the vision/mission, empathy and purpose. Second is the manager lever, wherein it's more about how to guide the team, recognitions, conversations which they have, proper feedback which they give. And the third lever is about the culture, the overall experience at work.
The tools will eventually help you with these three levers. All tools and technologies you use in the company should make sure it is a consumer class user experience. It should have that kind of engagement built into it. People cannot switch from a user friendly tool to a basic system or tools that actually lead to disengagement.
Horizontally such tools will take care of these kinds of engagements and usability features. There are 3 tools specifically geared towards employee engagement :
Engagement measurement: The measurement tools help you find out where the real problem is and accordingly work on that.
Rewards & Recognition: This is an important tool which will help you with your policies and framework which you have.
Wellness - Financial, Physical & mental: It has gained prominence in the last 4 months and companies have started to realise the importance of the wellness tools. It is no longer a tick-mark for HRs.
- Invest in employee engagement specific technologies: Employee engagement oriented tools are and will be going to be the differentiators in your company
- All your tools and technologies should make sure that they don’t lead to disengagement. The tools should be analyzed based on the criterias such as: consumer class, mobile, collaborative, excellent support and it should focus on delivering strategic value and not automation
- Before we get employees who need to be engaged, it is the HRs first who needs to be engaged. HR has to bridge the gap between the buyer and user and this can only happen if they are engaged