Continuous Employee Engagement: The Revolution Has Begun

The Age of the Employee Experience has arrived.

What most companies today mistake for ‘normal advances in employee technology’ is actually a quiet revolution that has been building over the past few years. Organizations can now continuously monitor the engagement levels of their employees, sending out alerts as soon as they begin to disconnect or disengage in key critical areas needed for successful, happy talent. This revolution is disruptive, and brings with it tremendous opportunities as well. This new technology allows companies to shape their employees’ experience like never before, while taking advantage of the strengths and weakness of both the organization and the employee.

On the other hand, companies that fail to recognize this change may soon find themselves the last dog at the bowl. As the Bard would remind corporate America were he alive today: to adapt or not to adapt, that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler to cling perilously to the HR systems of the past, or boldly embrace the revolutionary technology that will catapult them — and their soaring ROI’s — into the future.

Let’s take a look now at the two factors impacting this game-changing dilemma:

1. Continuous Employee Experience Technology — SaaS solutions controlled by the employer organization, which not only measure engagement but create it from within, thus facilitating a more complete employee experience, and;

2. Invasive Employee Engagement Technologies — external (non-friendly) entities that reach an organization’s employees from the outside, and often create the wrong type of engagement in the process.

Continuous Employee Experience Technology

This technology within the company connects with employees on various key levels necessary for healthy, sustainable growth. It allows each employee to experience consistency, to maximize their ‘ramp to productivity’, and for the organization to improve retention — dramatically reducing turnover as it isolates and circumvents identifiable, correctable factors. Think of daily or multiple light touches per week, built right into the employee’s workstream: tasks, questions, conversations, that survey “How the employee is doing, feeling, learning” at any given time. The solution also sends alerts back to a manager if there are any serious deviations or notable areas of concern. These alerts are accompanied by automated and/or manual responses to bring the employee back on track, providing much needed and often overlooked “kudos” for a job well-done. This solution not only impacts and improves productivity, engagement, and retention, but also protects the company’s valuable talent from being raided and pilfered via outside disruptive technology companies. Speaking of which…

Invasive Engagement Technology

The technology that falls into this category is already reaching out to your employees, and includes platforms you know well and most likely use yourself. Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Facebook are three company disruptors that can reveal many things organizations either don’t know about themselves, don’t know how to fix, and/or are desperately trying to hide from the outside world. Current and future employees are just 60 seconds and 5 clicks away from finding out or sharing such tidbits as: which competitors are hiring, what do they pay, what the culture is like, how management treats their employees, who they know that works there, i.e., the good, the bad, and the ugly (emphasis on the ugly).

There was a time when the companies called all the shots and controlled all the information. Employees were told what to do, where to do it, when to do it, and above all to NOT ASK QUESTIONS. That time is past. These days anything companies do — can and will be used against them. Thanks to social technology, there are no more secrets, as invasive technology allows the employee to have a voice, to speak without fear of reprisal, for all to see (or read). Anonymity is king and allows an ‘anything goes’ discussion on a company’s culture — compensation — and overall competence.

Millennials are embracing Continuous Engagement

A study recently released by Deloitte found that Americans collectively check their smartphones upwards of 8 billion times per day. This shouldn’t come as a shock since Millennials (who now make up a majority of the US workforce) embrace technology and “social networking” better than any other generation. That skill is helping to revolutionize the workplace by giving employees an increasingly loud voice on how their companies should be run. As Josh Bersin recently noted in the comprehensive report, Rewriting the Rules for the Digital Age, “young, digital savvy workers are comfortable doing things themselves, sharing information in a transparent way. They want an integrated, digital experience at work.” This new generation is empowered and literally wired to combat stiff, outdated corporate regimes using social media and other technologies. Companies must now progress or perish.

In an effort to keep up with the current trends, many companies are scrambling, trying different things to please their people, to keep them ‘engaged’ in a variety of ways — weekly, monthly, annual surveys, meetings, mentors, cafeterias, corporate Zumba, Friday lunches are all well-intentioned attempts to cater to their talent, but are organizations doing more harm than good? Are they, in fact, missing the opportunity to guide their employee’s experience directly and immediately — and in the process, transform their company into a great, truly engaging place to work? The answer is yes… and the solution is Continuous Employee Engagement.

THE SOLUTION: Employee Experience with Continuous Feedback

“Continuous Employee Engagement” solutions, which can also be thought of as “Employee Experience” solutions, monitor, measure, record and react to employees in REAL-TIME on a continual basis. The results are explosive — and almost immediately apparent. Continuous engagement, continuous feedback, continuous guidance are all experienced throughout your organization, all in real-time.

As Bersin reminds us in the Digital Age report, regular feedback empowers people to reset goals continuously, change projects, and feel rewarded for their “work,” not just their “job.” Engagement tools give managers immediate input on their own performance, boosting transparency” and facilitate regular discussions about capabilities and skills, helping employees learn where to focus and what learning to adopt.

Employee Experience technology allows us to peer into, analyze and adjust the entire employee experience on an ongoing basis. Tapping the pulse of how new hires or seasoned veterans are doing, feeling and learning, during that critical juncture in the employee life cycle. Instead of just hoping for success and tracking employees semi-annually, we can track their continual progress from day one, while providing auto- or triggered feedback at the exact time in the appropriate area of need, guiding them to success. This enables employees to be simultaneously directed and encouraged, in ways that directly affect their performance. This frees up managers’ time and allows them to be more strategic on how, when and where they engage those employees.

Continual light touches, automated questions or tasks, predictive analytic triggered responses, recognition affirmations or actions from the platform, allow the manager and mentor to engage the employee in the right way and at just the right time. What happenings almost immediately is that employees become significantly more engaged, productive and committed.

Better Listening for Better Results

These continuous employee engagement solutions are highly predictive as well. They reveal “who” is prone to leave the company, and “why” people will decide to leave, all via “real-time”, incoming data. The company will thus know how to correct a problem instantly and before the worker becomes dis-engaged. Group Leaders can see why some managers’ teams are better than others — what areas they excel in and why. How is all this possible? In a word — continuous feedback (ok, two words, but you get the point. Don’t you?) Companies now have the ability to engage their employees on a regular basis that reveals a goldmine of information via people analytics, or what I like to call “people science”. Predictive analytics engages the employee in a continuous, direct, yet noninvasive way, and allows both employer and employee to understand one another and the organization better than ever before.

The internet of things has finally landed at the foot of the employee and it is nothing short of revolutionary. Much like Upton Sinclair’s book “the jungle” over 100 years ago, that exposed the gross corruption of Factory conditions for the everyday American at the turn of the century, so Continuous Employee Engagement technology is shining a light on tremendous inefficiencies, dysfunctional cultures and archaic management styles. The Continuous Employee Experience is here to help lead American business to a much better way throughout the 21st century.

Employee engagement technology has for the first time given voice to the employee and their experience. Are you ready to join the revolution?

Doug Hartshorne is a Human Capital Strategist and Account Manager for Yoi Corp. Yoi’s new employee success technology utilizes predictive and prescriptive data analytics within a workflow automation framework to facilitate the most critical workplace conversations and activities.

Photo credit: The Matrix Reloaded film