A couple years ago, Gallup conducted a survey that categorized employee engagement into three levels. The results showed that, in any given organization, 30% of employees are actively engaged in propelling the company along, half of the employees are just coasting on the efforts of the others, and 20% are actively attempting to disrupt progress within the business. Do you know which of your employees fall into which categories? More importantly, do you know how to improve these conditions?
Workforce management challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have made employee engagement that much more difficult to reliably assess. Some organizations were well prepared to equip and support a distributed, remote workforce because they understood how to strategically align technology with their employees' expectations. However, most companies saw these conditions as something they'd eventually prepare for...maybe...when and if they got around to it.
Now that so many companies have been pushed suddenly into a future, how do they go about sustaining, and perhaps even increasing, employee engagement? Besides arming employees with Zoom accounts and VPN connections, what really needs to happen for a deeper relationship with employees - no matter where they are located physically? Maybe most important for long-term growth, how do businesses take advantage of this opportunity and avoid sliding back into a position of guesswork and misunderstanding about the people who make their organizations thrive? One way to unlock this vibrant workforce is by deploying technologies that increase an organization's strategic capacity while at the same time reducing redundancy, errors, and time-consuming manual tasks.
Transactional vs. Strategic
Companies that operate transactionally have a very difficult time trusting the quality their data. They typically run numerous, disconnected systems that manual tasks have to compensate for, and the repetitiveness of these actions leads to frequent errors that are time-consuming to track down and fix. In fact, so much time can be spent entering, correcting, and re-correcting transactions that no time (or patience, or desire, or motivation, etc.) exists for employees to work together on improving the quality of their work environment, and so job satisfaction plummets and takes employee engagement down with it. In other words, the company has fewer people caring enough to row the boat.
Take this very transactional scenario, for example. An assembly plant employee manually fills out his paper time-sheet and accidentally makes a single time entry error. The employee's manager, always too busy to look closely, doesn't notice and passes the time-sheet over to payroll. The payroll administrator manually keys the time-sheet data into her time calculation spreadsheet and, when reviewing time summaries, notices a problem in one of the totals. She spends an hour or so reviewing all employee time-sheets, and she eventually finds the time entry error that caused the problem. However, she doesn't know what the entry should have been. Pressed for time with a payroll deadline coming, she quickly walks the time-sheet over to the employee's manager and asks him to drop what he's doing to get the correct information. Annoyed, the manager tracks down the employee, who has to remember what happened that day but eventually makes the adjustment. The manager carries the time-sheet back to the payroll administrator, who re-keys the time entry, re-runs the time summary report, formats her spreadsheet so that it will import into the payroll system, and proceeds with payroll. Whew! All three employees wasted significant time on this single, small mistake, leaving them frustrated and stressed about having enough hours in the day and just looking forward to going home.
Companies that operate strategically, by contrast, not only trust the accuracy of their data, they make that data available at all levels of decision-making in order to encourage informed and productive actions by the people they trust to manage the business. These businesses use unified systems that allow information to flow through all levels of the organization in real time, and they deploy automation as much as possible to reduce manual, error-prone processes. All of these elements furnish employees with time to concentrate on strategic process improvements and substantive change that make employees feel engaged and excited about their jobs.
Let's look at how that same scenario might be handled in a strategic organization with a unified Human Capital Management system. An employee makes an incorrect time entry using an app on his phone. The system validates the entry at the time it's made and alerts the employee to the problem. The employee fixes the error and submits his time-sheet through his mobile device. The employee's manager reviews the employee's completed time-sheet on his own device, receives no error alerts, and confidently passes it through to payroll. In the process, the system informs him that the employee is due for a performance review and that the employee has had a 100% attendance record over the past six months. Also, it tells him that the employee's birthday is coming up in one week. The payroll administrator opens up the payroll module of the system and finds all of the validated time waiting and summarized. She processes payroll without issue and turns her attention to a new employee wellness initiative she's been working on. Meanwhile, the manager has scheduled a review with the employee, where they plan to discuss the employee's ideas for improving one of the assembly methods as well as an incentive bonus for his attendance record. He's also ordered a small cake to surprise the employee with on his birthday. the employee, manager, and payroll administrator are all excited about the things they'll be working on over the next few days.
Notice, too, that the strategic approach doesn't tie employees to particular places or force them to interrupt their activities unnecessarily. Employees, managers, and administrators are all provided with the mobile tools they need to complete their tasks efficiently from multiple locations, while keeping them in tight communication with one another the entire time. Ultimately, companies that focus on a strategic outlook through forward-thinking technologies create better opportunities for employee engagement and resulting business growth.
If your company is ready to start its HCM journey towards a more effective and happy workforce of the future, get in touch with us today.