Driving a ‘culture of opportunity’ to boost employee engagement in the digital era
The seemingly endless talk of ‘job-hopping’ millennials and the disruption this generation brings to the workplace remains a hot topic. It is a common misconception that keeping these 20-something, digital natives engaged in the business is an issue keeping HR professionals up at night. In reality, is it just this demographic that they should be concerned about?
The answer here is no, and the actual situation is far more complex. It’s no longer just digitally-savvy millennials who are taking a different approach to their work. Research by Gallup polling firm found that only 13 percent of the global workforce is “highly engaged.” Furthermore, only one in eight of the workers surveyed were considered psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organisations. Similarly, an AMA study discovered that 52% of managers “see their employees as less loyal than five years ago,” and one-third of the senior leaders surveyed believed this lack of employee loyalty was having a direct relationship on business profits. What’s interesting here is that neither research report was specifically focused on workers from Generation Y.
The media continues to perpetuate the idea that it’s just the emerging workforce who spend their days seeking new job opportunities, but this is a huge misconception. All workers prioritise their career development and instead of simply adding zeros to their pay slip, employees want to work in an environment where they are able to acquire a broad range of skills and embrace different experiences.
HR, and the business more broadly, know that their success depends largely on developing a stable and productive team. Employers therefore have to carefully consider what strategies they will use to cultivate valuable employees now and into the future. So how can HR set about attracting, motivating and retaining talent if these employees continually have one digital eye on the exit door?
Employees now are not prepared to work using the same systems and processes that previous generations have, according to research by Goldman Sachs. In today’s digital era the entire workforce expect their employers to provide tools that resemble the platforms they use in their private lives, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. It is possible that the same technology which leads them to social networks can also be used as a tool of engagement within the four walls of the business.
With this in mind, here are three key areas that can help HR leaders better engage the entire workforce.
- Enable the workforce to drive their careers
Whilst you can’t stop an employee of any generation from leaving a company, you can make them feel like they’re in control of their own career trajectory and provide them with the tools and information to understand the areas in which they need to grow. HR and its business partners should be thinking about how they can open up and democratise data across their organisation, using tools based on the consumer web which push access to information to the front lines where employees will be looking to use it.
The key here is to deliver an experience that feels natural, and by giving employees access to systems which look and feel like social network tools, HR can reduce the time it takes to do simple admin tasks and improve employee engagement with the HR function and across the business more broadly.
- Culture and opportunity are the perfect pair
Employees are increasingly prioritising career development, and they won’t hesitate to look elsewhere for a role which delivers fulfillment and purpose. For this reason, HR should look to develop a ‘culture of opportunity.’ This means being less stringent about policies or traditional career paths, and being more transparent about new opportunities that exist within their organisation. This means giving employees the tools that provide a personalised view of these opportunities, such as understanding which other employees held similar positions in the past and what trajectory their careers took, and creating interpersonal networks so that they can connect with one another.
- Providing employee feedback should not be an annual event
Today’s employees want their voices to be heard, and having the capability for HR to quickly gauge workforce sentiment via digital tools can be an easy way to understand the concerns of employees so that they can be addressed. Due to the speed at which employee roles change and how projects evolve, measuring an employee’s performance should not be carried out in isolation.
Tools now exist that allow HR to capture, measure and aggregate information in real-time, creating an environment which drives regular, ongoing feedback and puts the process in the hands of the employee so they can actively participate in their development. Providing regular check-ins are necessary so that the discussions are timely, relevant and effective.
Employee engagement is now, more than ever, a top priority for businesses with the goal being increased employee commitment to company culture and business objectives. HR leaders who are capable of becoming change agents are essential to inspire collaboration, transparency, and employee empowerment among the workforce. That will require a shift in culture, including a greater understanding of how technology can enable the real-time feedback and access to information that the workforce truly needs.
About the Author
Karen Minicozzi is vice president, HCM product strategy, EMEA at Workday and is responsible for human capital management product strategy for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Karen joined Workday in 2007 and has held various leadership roles across the organization in sales and services. Prior to Workday, Karen worked in HR software sales at PeopleSoft and SAP, and also spent more than 15 years as an HR practitioner with the US Federal Government. Karen holds a bachelor’s degree in Russian studies and psychology from the University of Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @kminicoz.