How Software Can Increase Employee Engagement

March 30, 2015 John Gorup

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Let’s just get something out of the way first: technology can’t make a bad company culture good. In other words, if you work for jerks, and they put in place a new social and mobile platform, employees will still be miserable. But, if you work with good people and have a product or service that customers value, good technology can help an employee be the great employee they can be.

We in the enterprise software world talk a lot about business value, and obsess about the latest in software and hardware. We are the worst at forgetting what writer Tim Carmody says, “technology is for people.” And people live in a world much more complicated than the one enterprise software vendors talk about. People get tired, anxious, and frustrated. We forget things, we get distracted. The systems people interact with at work either help employees do they best they can, or they compound the struggle. Creating a system to improve employee engagement is ultimately what we talk about when we talk about the Worker Experience.

People need systems at work that give them the freedom to be effective. TJ Keitt of Forrester talks about employees who work in the “ecosystem.” These are the 57% of information workers who “regularly interact with all elements of their business ecosystems: their colleagues, partners, and customers.” The kind non-linear work these workers do requires a system that lets employees navigate complexity. We have talked a lot about how companies can benefit from a Worker Experience, but what problems does it solve from the employee point of view?

Better onboarding experience.

It’s hard to be the new kid. The first few weeks on a new job is a time of highs and lows. Being welcomed and made comfortable at the start of a job is crucial to forming a long-term relationship. Turnover is notoriously expensive for companies. As has been observed: “Costs of employee turnover are estimated to 30-50% of the annual salary of entry-level employees, 150% of middle level employees, and up to 400% for specialized, high level employees.” But there is a cost for high-turnover that’s difficult to quantify. Having systems that guides the onboarding process sets the right tone for new employees, and gets them engaged faster.

Easier to Find information.

Workers spend a lot of time simply just looking for information. As Keitt writes, “…over the course of a 40-hour work week, workers whose work spans the ecosystem spend roughly 4 hours just looking for answers.” Getting the right information not only takes a better knowledge management system, but better collaboration tools.

Easier to move around

Many employees now work outside the corporate network. Employees need a safe and simple way to access the information they need on the device that works best for them. The design of mobile apps do not need to be revolutionary, just intuitive.

Get continual feedback and appreciation when needed

Getting feedback through a yearly review is a terrible way to keep employees engaged. People like to be appreciated for what they do, and having a platform to share successes is great for maintaining motivation. Shout-outs and saying “thanks” goes a long way in letting employees know their efforts are appreciated.

There is no magic cure for solving the problem of employee engagement. Software has not been invented that makes a difficult boss more compassionate. There is no application that takes care of a sick kid when a big deadline is looming, and there is no mute button for gossipy coworkers. But what a Worker Experience platform can do is make work more fun and efficient, and help employees find the answers they need faster. More engaged employees will have a ripple effect throughout your company. Customers will feel the difference, and this will be reflected in the bottom line of your income statement.

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