As Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to find greater inroads in almost all aspects of our daily lives, one can only begin to image its impact on the corporate world. A McKinsey Global Institute study suggests that global organizations have invested close to $40 billion in AI, with 90% of the resources invested in research and development.
With technological breakthroughs happening at a breakneck pace, global organizations are struggling to keep up and are increasingly turning to AI-enabled solutions (in one form or another) to address the very disruption, and the most predominant crisis of today’s workplaces - employee engagement.
The employee engagement crisis as Gallup calls it, has haunted organizations for well over a decade. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report suggests that 85% global employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged. As bewildering as that may sound, another study by Dale Carnegie Training states that, “in the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, engaged employees are the ultimate goal. Actively unengaged employees express mistrust, undermine the work of others, and sow seeds of negativity.”
‘Organizations need engaged employees’ might just be the greatest understatement when it comes to competing in today’s rapidly evolving marketplaces. With competition for increased market reach and attracting and retaining top talent driving the business model, an engaged workforce is a prerequisite to say the least. Organizations with the most engaged employees have four times greater earnings-per-share growth than the competition, along with increased productivity and customer engagement, and more profitability.
According to Jim Harter, Chief Scientist-Workplace Management & Well-Being, “In a nutshell, this global engagement pattern provides evidence that how performance is managed, and specifically how people are being developed, is misfiring. Most of modern business relies on annual reviews to provide feedback and evaluate performance. And yet the new workforce is looking for things like purpose, opportunities to develop, ongoing conversations, a coach rather than a boss. They see work and life as interconnected, and they want their job to be a part of their identity.”
Josh Bersin, Founder of Bersin by Deloitte and global industry analyst, says, “Turnover is so painful with this job market that companies are realizing- I’ve got to take better care of my people or else I can’t grow.”
This goes to highlight the criticality of the issue on a global scale, and Bersin believes AI could be the missing piece of the employee engagement puzzle. So, how can AI-enabled solutions help increase employee engagement?
AI and Employee Engagement
A key aspect of engaging employees is to clearly communicate the organization’s vision and business objectives. Employees who clearly understand why their job is vital to the organization’s overall mission are certainly more invested with a sense of purpose.
So, then, how do you communicate with and motivate your employees effectively? Traditional motivation tactics and conservative approaches to increase employee engagement are no longer viable in today’s competitive corporate landscape, and neither do they produce the expected results. Approaches like employee surveys, special committees and limited data analysis do more harm than deliver actionable insights through genuine responses.
AI has the potential to bring about a positive shift in the approaches organizations take towards employee engagement, helping them incorporate agile processes across their HR, L&D and other functions to provide a wholesome workplace experience.
Here are few ways in which AI-enabled solutions can help boost employee engagement-
AI-enabled Conversational Platforms (Chatbots)
AI and Chatbots certainly do make a great team, especially in making today’s enterprise solutions simpler, more intuitive as well as engaging. With as many as 80% of organizations expected to leverage chatbots by the year 2020, AI-enabled conversational platforms are said to represent user-friendly technologies that help offer an enhanced employee experience. According to Chatbot Magazine, what makes Chatbots more special is the fact that they can be integrated easily with the existing platforms used by majority of organizations.
HR and L&D leaders can leverage conversational platforms to even measure and analyze employee engagement through real-time feedback to understand the employees’ immediate needs and concerns to offer instant solutions without having to go through a feedback loop.
AI-enabled Sentiment Analysis Platforms
Although organizations have limitless employee data, they often struggle with the sheer amount of it in order to identify valuable insights to improve engagement, and leading organizations are turning to AI-enabled solutions to do a ‘sentiment analysis’ on the available feedback to understand how employees really feel. Advanced algorithms can now search and categorize unstructured data much faster and with more precision.
Enterprise solutions’ vendors are making advancements in sentiment analysis technology by the day, while Google has already introduced voice and facial analysis tools, and IBM offers sentiment analysis as part of its talent insights products, which “sifts through employee survey data to find patterns and insights that are actionable for leaders. Engagement scores go up when employees see that companies are actually doing something with their feedback," according to Bob Schultz, GM, IBM Talent Management Solutions.
AI-enabled Performance Management Platforms
Forbes suggests that mere 6% organizations believe their performance management process is meaningful. And, the major contributors hindering the process are workplace biases, with race and gender possibly the main culprits in individual bias. And, this is exactly where AI-enabled performance management platforms can make a lot of difference as AI doesn’t care about biases unlike humans. Besides, AI-enabled assessment of performance happens in real-time, where incentives and rewards for performance can be handed out almost instantly, whereas interventions can be planned if targets are being missed. As a result, employees are satisfied with their assessment and are driven to perform better which in turn engages them in their job role more effectively.
AI-enabled Talent Development Platforms
Learning & Development (L&D) is most probably the biggest enabler of employee engagement. Today, employees want to work for organizations that provide development and growth opportunities, while organizations want to attract, retain and develop talent to future-proof their workforce. And, L&D is at the core of this process.
Leading Learning Management System (LMS) vendors are increasingly looking to integrate AI into their platforms to make corporate training and talent development a more personalized and customized experience for the employees. AI-enabled platforms use predictive analytics and behavior mapping techniques to understand learners’ needs and patters and offer personalized and structured learning programs (content) to help them become more engaged and productive.
Using AI-powered tools for talent and performance management, monitoring productivity, boosting learning and development programs, building capability and predicting trends, and identifying critical issues in real-time, the possibilities and potential of AI for employee engagement are nearly limitless.
The invention and adoption of advanced technologies has seen us go from one revolution to the other, which is a cardinal testament to our ability to adapt and adopt. We are certainly welcoming and embracing Artificial Intelligence in all its potential, to not only evolve as individuals, but also transform our workplaces into technology-driven enterprises. And, making it all possible are the millions and millions of employees that are driving the businesses. So, it is most imperative for organizations to value employee engagement as the key to a highly successful business.