Robert Darling, COO at employee engagement technology firm, Eko, discusses what future technology advancements are needed for businesses looking to improve employee engagement
As workplaces become more global-centric with an increasingly diverse workforce and talent pool, companies have started placing inclusion at the top of the business agenda when it comes to running a successful organisation. But inclusion is more than just a hot topic. It has become a crucial element of the recruitment process, as employers recognise that companies with a more diverse and inclusive workplace will attract millennial talent, which accounts for more than 75% of today’s workforce. It has also been reported that 74% of the young workforce believes that a company is more innovative and appealing to work for, if it can demonstrate a strong inclusive culture.
Over past years, many people have believed that the use of technology hinders real-world communication and there is a common fear that employees reliant on tech, especially those working in the service or frontline industries, will eventually dehumanise the workplace. With an increase in automation, and with robots and machine-learning taking over more human tasks, the use of technology has been a threat for some and many believe it reduces human interaction. However, that is not always the case. What we often overlook is where the right technology can actually help to strengthen workplace relationships, connect teams and enhance customer service.
Inclusion should open up channels for conversation
By using the right workplace tools, businesses can use technology to develop more robust and improved employee engagement strategies, simply by opening up more channels for communication. Inclusion is about opening up more pathways to conversation, not stifling it. For instance, using a more familiar mobile-led tool with features such as instant messaging, as well as voice and video calls can actually boost workplace communication.
Used correctly, it can even connect remote workers and dispersed teams together just by using their mobile phones. The use of mobile technology helps people to keep informed and stay connected, regardless of location that can only be a good thing. Particularly since remote workers are more likely to experience feelings of isolation and loneliness than those who are office-based.
Employee isolation and loneliness have become prevalent issues in today’s workplace, most notably to non-desk and frontline employees, who comprise 80% of today’s global workforce. In fact, 60% of employees worldwide experience loneliness in the workplace and 25% of them leave their jobs for this reason alone. A shift in mindset is needed in terms of how we connect today and we need to start trusting that fit for purpose technology can indeed strengthen workplace relationships as well as help to boost transparency and trust amongst peers, managers and within the organisation as a whole.
Remote workers can feel isolated
By implementing an internal tool that has robust communication features, the workplace can stay connected instantly anytime, anywhere. Remote employees, 47% of whom reported feeling isolated from their teams, will feel more connected to the entire workplace if they are able to join in with ‘in-the-moment’ conversations and decisions via the use of technology. It is very easy to feel out of the loop when you don’t have a personal desk space at work or are separated from the wider team, so this is very important for inclusion.
A huge part of engagement comes from employees feeling part of their team and part of the company as a whole. Without having a single, dynamic platform that everyone can access at any point, this can impact how information reaches employees in the workplace. Disjointed internal communication can lead to confusion, disengagement and might mean some employees are missing out on relevant and important company information.
Despite all the hard work, of course, lack of communication can mean that some employees will feel they don’t get the recognition they deserve. It is widely reported that employees who do not feel recognised at work are twice as likely to quit their job within a year, affecting employee retention. Training and development are also crucial in ensuring employees stay engaged in the workplace, with 93% of them saying that they would stay longer if their companies invested in their careers. Employees who do not get the opportunities to grow in their career feel undervalued and less confident in performing their job well. As an effect, they can get frustrated at work.
Technology should facilitate stronger working relationships
But what technological trends and advancements should businesses expect to see this year and beyond that could help to improve staff engagement? The trend for mobile-led technology will certainly play a significant role in improving employee engagement by connecting people together across multiple locations. Aside from making communication and collaboration more accessible, mobile-led technology can also help to connect non-desk workers to their wider teams. With 70% of people across the world already working remotely at least once a week, chat and video software will also become a prominent addition to the workplace helping to facilitate a stronger working relationship amongst office-based employees, remote and non-desk teams.
As the workplace continues to become more diverse, employee platforms that utilise language translation will also become an essential tool in keeping the workplace engaged. Using technology to communicate across multiple languages will provide more support to businesses looking to employ remote workers from various locations, as well as make them feel more inclusive.
This shift of using technology in workplace communication has positively affected the way companies interact with their younger workforce too. Managers can give feedback instantly, something that millennials and the generation-z workforce value to advance their career. Also, the use of social media and online recruitment has made reaching out to potential recruits less tedious, as these are the generations that consume and take full advantage of digital resources available to them.
People crave physical interaction
However, while using technology can help you to connect with remote workers and dispersed teams on a more immediate basis, the use of technology to communicate should never be the only means to interact with people. Humans need human interaction, face-to-face conversation too. Instead, technology should work to complement and enhance the workplace and also the level of human interaction amongst peers, it does not replace it.
Employers need to understand that it is normal for people to crave physical interactions and that they should look for ways to ensure meaningful connections are still existent offline. Activities such as company lunches, creating extra-curricular activities and encouraging the creation of social groups can help foster a healthier relationship that goes beyond the use of technology.
Technology has become an essential part of the modern-day workplace, thanks to its ability to digitise workflows, enable dynamic communications and open up knowledge-sharing channels. But it is not always received and used to its fullest potential. Several factors and perceived barriers affect our views towards using technology in the workplace and by having an open mind about where and when to use it, companies can scale their businesses to new heights, increase profitability and improve the way they work as a team.
Editor's Recommended Articles
Must Read >> Cloud technology: Helping employees to work smarter