Gallup reported in 2018 that employee engagement had reached 34% — tied for the highest level since it had begun tracking in 2000. The bad news is that 53% of employees remain unengaged. Another 13% are “actively disengaged,” making engaged workers a minority. The good news: Technology has the power to boost engagement and turn these figures around.
Unengaged employees don’t just skip out on office holiday parties. Each day they show up, they do the bare minimum required. They’re one slightly better offer away from leaving the company. It’s understandable that Josh Bersin, industry analyst and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, believes “CEOs and business leaders everywhere are now evaluated by their ability to keep employees happy.”
According to Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer, 78% feel you can tell how trustworthy a company is by how it treats employees. For proof, look no further than Target, which found customer trust at all-time lows after a 2013 data breach and a failed Canadian expansion.
To improve customer perception, the retail chain started by changing internal attitudes. It did away with the dress code. It made internal communications more authentic, including “ask me anything” sessions, in-person town halls, and less sugarcoating. Did the changes work? Retail Dive dubbed Target its 2017 Turnaround of the Year and the 2018 Retailer of the Year.
While Target is a shining example of earning back trust, don’t wait for a data breach or a scaling attempt to increase employee engagement. Instead, turn to tech to start building engagement and trust today.
1. Communicate consistently and credibly.
Intranets are frequently touted as the bridge from the C-suite to individual contributors. But the results depend on regular content from executives themselves. According to employee communication and engagement platform Simpplr, 22% of intranets fail due to stale content, which is why the platform’s auto-governance engine automatically clears old content to keep information relevant. When employees don’t see regular posts from management, they’re apt to believe their leaders don’t care about communication. Who can blame them? An intranet is only effective when employees at all levels participate.
Beyond your intranet, leverage platforms your workers are already familiar with. Oft-used tools, such as LinkedIn, can enable communication with employees. Most users view LinkedIn as a tool for networking beyond their office walls. Company pages, however, allow administrators to alert employees about important posts, recognize employee accomplishments, and welcome new hires. Employees can then engage with the content and share it, amplifying the message.
2. Prompt employees for feedback.
Most HR software tools have built-in feedback features, making data collection as easy as sending a survey. One such solution is 15Five, which sends weekly surveys that should take employees 15 minutes to complete. In turn, they require just five minutes for managers to review. In addition to questions built into the platform, managers can create custom prompts for their teams and even individual employees.
Tech solutions make it easier than ever to gain insight into the overall happiness and performance of your workforce. By regularly collecting information, managers can minimize unpleasant surprises, such as an employee quitting in frustration or drama between two overworked team members. Feedback tools can also improve productivity by helping managers eliminate the obstacles employees bring to their attention. Furthermore, they can give high performers the praise they deserve.
3. Urge managers to act.
A recent study from Gallup attempted to quantify the influence of the manager in employee engagement. It found that managers were responsible for 70% of the differences in engagement among a team of employees. That means managers hold an incredible amount of sway.
Managers might lean on surveys to help identify their own strengths and weaknesses, but implementing changes can prove difficult. One software tool, Glint, is designed to take employee survey results and suggest actions for managers to take. Down the road, the tool might direct managers to learning videos or LinkedIn courses to help build the skills they’re lacking. These kinds of tools can turn a system of static feedback into active skill development for both employees and managers.
Technology is often derided as something that isolates people. Technology also has the power to bring people together. Companies are increasingly finding that they can use it to improve boost employee engagement — and earn customer trust as a result.
Editor In Chief at ReadWrite
Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.