Leaders: Engage with Technology to Turn Around Disengaged Employees

5 Ways to improve engagement by effective use of technology

The high rate of disengaged employees has been a constant thorn in the side of businesses in the United States and around the world. But a worrying trend has emerged. Disengagement at work is on the increase:

Disengaged employees are less productive. They are more likely to be absent from work, and less likely to actively participate in problem-solving. Staff turnover is highest in organizations with lower levels of employee engagement. The issues caused by high numbers of disengaged employees hurt your bottom line. They harm sales and increase costs. Profits shrink as your competitors leap ahead. Gallup’s 2012 survey estimated the cost to American businesses at between $450 billion and $550 billion.

Why are employee engagement levels falling?

A study of 5 million workers from 1,000 organizations conducted by AON Hewitt found that several factors are contributing toward falling engagement levels. Chief among these is the rapid advance in technology. New technologies at work are disruptive. Introduced without an effective strategy, you’ll find it impossible to overcome resistance to changing technology in your organization.

However, as tech-savvy workforces grow in numbers, the state of technology in the workplace (and how it is used) could be the issue that is causing higher levels of disengaged employees. Millennials and Generation Z are used to using technology that is fast, accurate, and gives an enjoyable user experience. If your workplace technology doesn’t provide the same, employees get turned off.

5 ways that leadership can use technology to engage employees

The secret to engaging employees in the technological age is to deliver a workplace experience that more closely mirrors their personal lives, to deliver a personalized work experience. Here are five ways in which leaders can better utilize technology in the workplace to encourage greater employee engagement.

1.     Communicate using multiple channels

Gain a deeper understanding of how your employees prefer to be communicated with, and use appropriate channels to do so. There is much that leaders can learn about communication techniques by studying how to sell across the generational gap.

A face-to-face meeting may be more appropriate for discussing issues with older workers, while a range of modern technology channels are better for tech savvy workers. However, to make communication effective, you should also consider the personality traits of the individual, and then utilize instant messaging, video calls, email, and intranet to their best effect. This is especially important when you need to build trust in a globally remote organization.

2.     Make training more flexible

Technology can transform the delivery of your training programs, enabling personalization of delivery through multiple platforms, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Employees can learn at their own pace and when (and where) it most suits them.

This helps workers in the modern age to engage in training on the platforms that they use in their everyday life – familiarity and ease of use can help to deliver the results you expect.

3.     Employ gamification strategies

People of all ages play games on their devices – from word games designed for individuals, to action games that connect people around the globe. Using gamification techniques makes life at work more exciting. Excitement with work improves engagement and increases the achievement of goals, simultaneously aiding productivity.

4.     Allow your employees to use their own technologies

Have you ever been to a restaurant and witnessed how whole families and groups of friends sit huddled together, each person glued to their smartphones? This activity says much about how people prefer to engage with others. Consider using this knowledge to your advantage. Give people autonomy by enabling them to use their own devices at work when they wish to.

5.     Recognize your employees in real time

The internet, intranet, and online platforms have an advantage that their predecessors never had. You can now recognize the contributions of employees in real time. Personalizing rewards and communicating vision are key skills to motivate employees to work harder.

There’s another huge advantage gained by communicating in real time. You enable feedback to requests for information and suggestions for problem-solving to be made instantaneously.

Do your leaders understand your employees, and how to engage and inspire through more effective use of technology? Contact Forward Focus today to discuss our Management Development Series, including our Energy Leadership Program, which helps develop high-performing managers into inspirational leaders.

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