In today’s competitive and volatile business environment, finding the best talent is no longer enough. Employers and leaders need to be able to effectively engage their employees in order to help them develop their potential. However, studies and surveys have repeatedly shown that organizations are struggling to engage their employees and that they are increasingly becoming unconnected from their organization. Employee engagement needs to be a layered process including a wide variety of factors that influence employee performance, motivation, and efficiency. Here’s what we mean by unconnected workers, the factors of that result in disengagement, and how new-age digital strategies can help organizations.
Who is an ‘Unconnected’ worker?
While the exact definition of an ‘unconnected worker’ might vary for different industries, there are a few common traits that can be used to identify them in any work setting:
- When work is defined by the number of hours: Employees that typically follow an hourly system of work and have to use a time clock to log their ‘worked time’ are more likely to be disconnected than others. For example, contractors and field workers who report to the office at a designated time and head off to their site that are paid according to the number of hours they have worked.
- Limited access: Most unconnected workers have limited, or no, access to corporate devices or email. Even their access to corporate information systems is through a kiosk, and they might not own a personal smartphone or computer in order to actively participate in the company’s digital engagement, training, or appraisal programs.
- High levels of disengagement: Since most unconnected workers have a limited contact with the day-to-day company activity and culture, most of the work-critical information they receive is through their line manager. As a result, many of them are highly disengaged and fail to identify themselves as a part of the company.
Why do workers become ‘Unconnected’?
Unconnected workers can negatively impact the company’s financial performance, increase the risk of compliance-related issues, and cause higher absenteeism. Here are a few factors that lead to workers becoming disengaged and unconnected from their workplace:
- Disconnected HR Processes: When HR processes like observation checklists, feedback, and performance reviews take place in an isolated manner, employees are likely to lose interest. Integral processes, when executed in silos increase the chances of employees not identifying with the company culture, values, and practices.
- Lack of Communication: Imagine a field worker who is rarely in an office. When there is a communication void with remote workers, it leads to disengagement and is detrimental to employee morale and motivation.
- Limited Learning Engagement: A lack of enticing mechanisms and platforms for employees to undertake developed-related courses impedes their engagement. Development programs often fail to encourage unconnected workers to participate in an easy and seamless manner, thereby, limiting the scope of engaging them via learning.
- Lack of Tools for Effective Compliance: Segmentation of systems and processes results in glaring gaps in the enforcement of well-connected and compliant systems. Most organizations today lack an effective means to ensure that every last employee of the company is complying with the policies. This is because most tools are unable to facilitate an easy and effortless assistance of effective employee compliance.
Identifying and remedying these challenges is more important than ever, because, for the first time, employers and leaders have to cater to the aspirations of multi-generational workers that not only have different expectations from their work and life but are also at different stages of digital awareness. This influences how different workers interact with the organizations and its systems, and thus, the need to modernize the digital footprint of a company is paramount.
Driving Digital Initiatives: The Way to Go
It is clear that in order to engage the unconnected worker, employers need to make the most of digital tools and solutions. This has not gone unnoticed, as CHROs are increasingly using digitals platforms to improve HR operations and services, enhance the employee experience, and increase employee productivity.
Here are some essential features of an effective digital engagement strategy to engage unconnected workers:
- Enticing Point of Entry: Engaging, interactive, and adaptive digital platforms that allow a simple and quick interaction with HR assets and processes should be made available to every employee. No matter their point of contact with the company, the said tool needs to personalize the information provided and help employees navigate their career, performance, learning modules, and assessments.
- High-Value Self-Service: Digital tools and platforms should be able to add value to workers with different priorities. They must be able to encourage employees to participate and interact with the company by helping them achieve better work-life balance, suggest development opportunities, acquaint them with opportunities in the company, and simply help employees plan their work and career better. All these processes need to be integrated into a single platform and experience.
- Social and Gamification: Cultivating a form of social collaboration in the workplace, and engaging employees in a fun and gamified experience is indispensable today. This is a simple and effective way to integrate unconnected workers into the company culture, bring together diverse employees, and help them innovate and come up with new ideas. Digital tools and platforms need to make room for like-minded employees to come together and interact with each other in a safe and healthy manner.
- Personalize Communication: In addition to increasing social interaction among the employees, digital tools and solutions need to consistently communicate with employees in a personalized manner. Time clocks, kiosks, work devices, work avatars, and profiles – all of them can be effectively used as excellent communication points to interact with employees in a hyper-personal way.
As we step into the future, scouting for the best talent and effectively engaging and retaining them will be become increasingly challenging. In order for modern digital solutions to effectively engage employees, they need to pervasively communicate with employees and offer them value by connecting them to the company culture and experiences. Organizations and leaders need to consciously focus on bringing these digital solutions to unconnected workers and, thereby, help them excel. But in order to do so, first, they need to objectively assess how far along they have come in their digital journeys, and how much ground is left to cover.