Can technology improve employee engagement? - Empxtrack
workplace culture

Introduction: Studies around the world have revealed that engagement levels have a direct impact on employee’s performance and consequently on the bottom line. Thus a well established co-relation exists between employee engagement and business results.

Engagement : Some Quotes (from articles in professional journals)

  • Work never kills a person; the absence of it (unemployment) has killed many.
  • Remaining idle is not human nature.
  • No one likes to avoid work if there is clarity on what to do & how it will be evaluated.
  • Keeping work force idle produces negativity which impacts on team performance.
  • Engagement comes through involvement; people deliver more if they are emotionally involved in their work.
  • Delaying decisions on personal issues creates stress & diverts employee’s attention from work.
  • Absence of engagement is a challenge that can produce industrial unrest.
  • Unless you know people intimately, you can’t engage them effectively.
  • To keep their teams engaged, managers have to remain super-engaged.
  • An empowered manager is an incubator of employee engagement.
  • Employee motivation improves engagement levels.
  • Trust, developed through transparency, promotes engagement.
  • Engagement is fostered by Leadership; managers who lead from the front keep their task force actively engaged.
  • Occasional encouragement always improves engagement.
  • Engagement comes through commitment.
  • Attitudinal transformation creates a temperament for healthy engagement.
  • Employee engagement has transformed many organizations.

Who is an engaged employee?

Experience reveals that engaged employees always demonstrate most of the attributes given below:

  • Good understanding of company’s business.
  • Full clarity about own role & job deliverables.
  • Always achieve assigned goals; often exceed expectations.
  • Keen to put in extra-effort to accomplish a task.
  • De-link own performance from rewards & recognition.
  • Keep the work bench neat & tidy and take good care of job tools.
  • Always keen to learn something new.
  • Exhibit high energy levels at all times.
  • Highly information conscious if in the position of a supervisor/ manager.
  • Never say, “it is not my job”.
  • Willingly take on additional responsibility.
  • Have an outstanding record of personal discipline & attendance.
  • Self accountable & highly responsible: have no back-log of work at any time.
  • Always available to assist others; provide willing support to the team.
  • Have a consistently high record of performance.
  • Never come under pressure : always cool and adaptable by nature.
  • Not over-concerned with work-life balance.
  • Bubbling with new ideas: enjoy experimenting.
  • Seldom initiate complaints & grievances.
  • Consciously improve processes that impede work.
  • Highly allergic to slow & sluggish people.
  • Always lead subordinates though personal example.

What Reduces Employee Engagement:

A common problem with organizations is demanding more productivity without creating a conducive work environment which enables involvement of employees at all levels. Some of the diseases observed are as under:

  • Lack of awareness of the management about the use of modern HR technology to create a healthy work environment.
  • Lack of empowerment of the managers/ supervisors.

HR Technology for creating healthy work environment

20 to 30% of an employee’s time is spent on personal issues such as:

  • Approval of Leave/ loans & advances/ claims & re-reimbursements.
  • Queries related to pay/ promotions/ increments/ tax deductions.
  • Searching for copies of company policies/ processes/ forms.
  • Chasing the concerned staff for decisions on their requests.
  • Tracing the misplaced/ withheld/ overlooked personal cases.

All these create heart-burns and stress, besides lack of accountability at various levels. Technology today provides a solution in terms of on line tracking of all cases initiated by an employee. Automated work-flows enable speedy processing of requests. ‘Help Desks’ of various types facilitate cross functional interaction and improve accountability of the decision centers. ‘Employee portals’ provide relevant information about company policies/ processes. An employee can view & update personal data, read his job description & get a live picture of his attendance record. By merely spending 10 minutes daily, an employee can easily manage all his personal issues. What a colossal saving of energy and what an effective way of realizing that “Someone cares”! Technology thus improves the motivation to work.

Employee Emotional Involvement

To create a healthy work environment, which promotes emotional involvement of an employee, organizations need to review if their existing HR operations are being supported by technology that enables the following:

  • Making the HR policies & processes available to every one on the click of a mouse.
  • Provide on-line processing of requests related to Leave/ Loans & Advances/ Claims & Reimbursements etc.., with continuous status monitoring.
  • Address employee concerns/ queries on-line through Help Desks of various types.
  • Provide easy to use ‘Information Kiosks’, close to work stations, for blue collared employees (workers) who may not be authorized personal computers.
  • Provide facilities to employees to view & update their personal data on-line.
  • Enable each employee to interactively view his/ her Job Description (J D) and understand job responsibilities.
  • Career path is visible to each employee in the form of a linkage of own J D (in the current job position) with the J Ds for successive higher level job positions (which are open for employee’s growth). Also available on line is the information about additional qualifications and Skills/ Competencies required to become eligible for these higher level positions.
  • On-line facilities for Goal Setting so that goals & performance targets (or KRAs & KPIs) are clearly defined. This implies availability of a ready to refer ‘Performance plan’.
  • To enable setting of SMART goals by the employees who have newly joined the organization, access is available to the Goal Sheets (without performance records) of their predecessors in the same Job Position.
  • Automatic reminders are received by employees to periodically log their achievements for each goal so that performance could be tracked.
  • Performance appraisals reports & any counseling done by the manager/ supervisor is viewable at all times.
  • Employee can view one’s ‘Development Plan’ & participate in the training programs.
  • There is a facility to share on the ‘Knowledge Platform’ all innovations & creative contributions made by the employee.
  • Employee can share with the management vital information/ suggestions without routing the same through the reporting channels. This offers a platform for direct access with no intermediate filters.

HR Technology to empower managers

hr-technology-to-empower-managersFrustrations of managers are plenty, especially in organizations who are not supportive in providing them with automated tools to manage their subordinates. Modern technology facilitates the Line Managers in their people management role as under:

  • Empower them with on-line viewing of the personal records of their subordinates, their photographs, their Job Descriptions, their career paths, their development profiles, their performance records, their disciplinary records, their attendance & leave details and their compensation structures.
  • Empower managers with on-line information about the overall non-availability of team members, during the week, while approving leave requests. This ensures work planning through balancing of work requirements with personal needs of the subordinates.
  • Enable Line Managers to complete the Goals/ KRAs setting process through active involvement of the team members.
  • Enable viewing the Goal Sheets of all members & aligning the same to the organizational objectives.
  • Enable status tracking of achievement on the goals assigned to all team members.
  • Enable maintenance of counseling records for subordinates who could not achieve their targets in time. These records are visible at all times to the employees as well as their managers and act as reminders to improve performance.
  • Enable Managers to initiate on-line recommendations for rewards where achievements consistently exceed expectations. Track all such cases & automatically transfer relevant data to the personal records of employees.
  • Managers can initiate recommendations for training & also maintain log of critical incidents related to all team members. These are automatically visible while initiating the performance appraisal reports.
  • Providing ‘Bell Curves’ to each Manager about his/ her team performance to inculcate a culture of normalization of scores at the first level of reporting. Managers become more engaged in acquiring full knowledge about their direct reports while evaluating their relative performance.

How Technology improves Engagement of HR staff?

how-technology-improves-engagement-of-h-r-staff

  • Provides to the fresh graduates from Business Schools, who choose HR roles, with opportunities to practice, explore & strengthen their theoretic understanding of the concepts of automated HR, thereby increasing their degree of involvement in the job.
  • By sharpening the skills of HR teams to manage their operations speedily, technology dispenses with the need to hire additional HR staff to meet the requirements of organizational growth. A few members in the team are enabled to do more work by utilizing the tools provided to them. Therefore, higher engagement levels help in economizing on the HR service costs.
  • Distributed data entry by empowering employees to do on-line update of their personal details, and automated work flows to manage employee services, performance appraisals, training & development and other HR processes, saves HR of their routine effort on mundane activities. In turn, they get intuitively engaged with professional issues, thereby providing quality inputs to the decision process in the organization. Moreover, transparency is perceived by the environment when HR processes get automated.
  • Available time with HR also improves the scope of their interaction with other functions & Line Managers. In the process they are able to do active review & enrichment of various Job Positions across the organization. This leads to man power rationalization & right-sizing of the work force. Such engagements have helped organizations to reduce their overall manpower costs.
  • HR folks now have time & energy to focus on strategic issues and thus become active business partners.

Preferred Technology Platforms

The trend across the world today is to acquire technology platforms which:

  • Facilitate on-line operation of all HR processes in the organization.
  • Improve the people management capabilities of the Line Managers.
  • Empower employees with self service facilities to enhance their availability at the work place.
  • Provide integration of all HR processes to facilitate automatic flow of information to the employee data base, thereby enabling strategic decisions by the organization on various talent management related issues.

Measuring Employee Engagement

HR technology platform, with the features indicated above, shall facilitate the following modes of evaluating engagement levels:

  • Employee engagement survey based on internally designed instruments best suited to your environments. A repeat survey every year should provide the improvement trends in employee engagement.
  • Increase in the number of employees, who ‘Exceed Expectations’ in achieving their Goals every year, is a measure of engagement.
  • Reduction in absenteeism, tracked from the attendance records of employees, is an indicator of improved engagement.
  • Reduction in the number of grievances/ complaints and disciplinary cases is also a measure of engagement.
  • A picture of Attrition rates over the years reveals the extent of employee engagement.
  • Increase in profits/ revenue per employee is considered by some organizations as a measure of engagement.

‘EmpXtrack’ is an HR Technology platform which meets the above requirements and can help organizations to improve employee engagement.