Employee engagement in the new era
published : 27 Jun 2016 at 07:41
writer: Arinya Talerngsri
Digital disruption has been transforming and revolutionising marketing and sales like never before. Thanks to the advances in big data management, marketing departments have benefited from the ability to refine their knowledge of customer expectations and behaviours to create highly personalised and individualised approaches to delivering a better customer experience.
Because big data can offer so many useful insights, I’m sure it has occurred to some companies that they could adapt similar digital approaches to the field of human resources to meet the challenges of attracting, developing and retaining employees. The good ones are already doing this.
There is a saying that a happy customer is a customer who buys and comes back to repurchase whereas a happy employee is an engaged and committed collaborator who stays, innovates and contributes to the organisation.
From here, we can see organisations are increasingly focusing on upgrading their employee engagement all the time to drive better performance, because engaged employees drive growth, innovation and essentially bottom lines.
Here is the thing: Just as we can no longer treat customers as a single homogenous group because of their various preferences, we can no longer treat all employees alike. In marketing, we use segmentation techniques to understand customer needs and develop propositions that appeal to them in order to create referrals, references and repurchases. Clearly, such a method can also be applied to employees to build better engagement.
As employees are naturally motivated by different factors that are either defined by their stage of life or personal interests, organisations need to learn what motivates each one and offer a more customised programme to deliver what matters most. This way, companies will eventually find their employees willing to work more effectively, produce more productively and devote themselves more wholeheartedly to their jobs.
Individualisation or treating employees as individuals is a trend we are going to see more off in the coming year. However, as the trend gains momentum, I’m sure many HR practitioners along with line managers might start to feel burdened by a perceived need to treat the case of each employee individually.
Although we can’t predict to what extent this individualisation trend will play out, big data analysis along with advanced procedures make it much easier to detect and predict individual preferences of employees. Thus, organisations can act on these insights with tailored programmes and interventions accordingly. Consequently, this will lead to improved employee engagement.
Importantly, it must be noted that those in the new digital generation are accustomed to not being drowned out by the mass; instead, they aspire to be considered individually (and yes, in the professional context too). They refuse to be treated as one of the team but want to feel special and be treated like who they are.
Since we are now rely increasingly on advanced digital technology in so many domains, I find that social media can be another powerful tool for creating employee engagement in the era of individualisation. It can surely enhance insights into employees, improve staff engagement, produce better capability development as well as make recruitment more effective. Moreover, if the organisation fully integrates social technologies, it can more fully drive the democratisation of work.
For example, social media can help gauge employee attitudes toward the organisation, which can later be converted into strategic recommendations to help fine-tune an employee engagement plan as well as recruitment activity. Also, through social media — with its rich user experience enabling “whenever and wherever” communication — can help draw employees deeper into organisational discussions. Employees at all levels can then communicate much faster with less hierarchy and consistent messages across departments; thus, there will be better engagement directly between the top executive levels and officer levels.
Another vital advantage of social media is in terms of capability development. These days, learning has been pushed outside of the classroom or the classroom has been “flipped”, in which students instead of the teacher become the focal point of the learning process. Most importantly, learning is becoming social and can happen anywhere as well as anytime through technology. Given how social media has revolutionised how we live, HR practitioners can assist their people by making it far easier to consult with experts, collaborate with peers and learn from both, and with their own colleagues.
However, for employee engagement to truly happen in the modern workplace, business leaders are the key to success. They need to embrace big data and social technology with open arms and equip themselves with the knowledge and capacity to analyse that data and turn it into insights to better engage each individual.
But one thing that will never change regardless of which era you are in, and it is the fact the leaders to show their sincerity in understanding their people and engage them. Servant leadership in practice still provides the effective power to motivate and engage your employees anytime.
Arinya Talerngsri is Group Managing Director at APMGroup, Thailand's leading Organisation and People Development Consultancy. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.linkedin.com/pub/arinya-talerngsri/a/81a/53b
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