Maintaining employee engagement is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses. Irrespective of salaries and benefits, it’s very important for businesses to create a working environment where their employees are motivated and engaged; where they feel they are working towards a common goal, have a say in the business strategy and objectives, and are supported to develop themselves.
It’s important for businesses to have engaged staff. Without them businesses will struggle; it will be harder to retain staff, productivity will fall and absence will increase. It could also result in losing vital organisational knowledge that comes with time in the role, or even losing competitive information if an employee joins a rival.
On a positive note, globally employee engagement is continuing to improve. A factor in this growth is that employees want to work for a company that offers career progression, provides rewards for performance, and has a solid reputation. In fact, the top five drivers for employee engagement in Europe have been found to be career opportunities, organisation reputation, pay, innovation, and managing performance.
It therefore falls to management to help employees, and encourage employee engagement. Thankfully these days technology can help managers boost engagement and create a motivated workforce.
Peer-to-peer recognition platforms
Internal social media-like platforms are a great way for businesses to encourage employees to give each other a pat on the back. Instant messaging within these platforms allows employees to say ‘thank you’ to a co-worker instantly, and other features allow co-workers to be nominated for recognition, such as employee of the month, or for going the extra mile. It also helps create a visible culture of recognition within the business, which will boost employee engagement.
Instant tangible rewards
It well known that tangible rewards have more impact, and improve motivation and engagement, than cash bonuses or pay rises. Online platforms allow managers to instantly assign points or credits to an employee’s account, so that they can choose areward that means something to them, whether it’s merchandise, an experience or an electronic gift card. Most platforms can also be used to help monitor reward scheme performance and employee achievement, which can then be used to provide feedback to employees.
Instant feedback mechanisms
There's no doubt that annual performance reviews are too infrequent to maintain employee engagement, but instant feedback results in much higher engagement rates, and the ability to gather more actionable feedback. All too often, by the time managers provide feedback to employees, the moment has passed and the employee has moved on to other tasks or projects. Instant feedback mechanisms, such as social platforms, can significantly improve engagement.
Gamification is the use of game-like features in non-gaming scenarios, to motivate a change in behaviour, increase sales or improve productivity. Things like points, badges, levels, leader-boards and challenges all play a role in motivating a change in behaviour, and can supercharge an incentive scheme. Gamification is great for short term goals and incentive schemes, but probably shouldn’t be used as a recognition platform.
The data collected through on-line feedback and social recognition platforms means that employers have a huge amount of information available to them, that can be used improve efficiency and business processes. This information can be used to give real-time performance reviews, rather than bi-annual manager-employer meetings. HR teams and leaders can also analyse the information to improve business performance, or to address areas that need improvement.
New technology can provide the means to improve employee engagement, and help businesses create a positive working environment. This will help them motivate and retain staff, which in turn will improve their competitiveness and their bottom line.