If you had an extraordinary magic tool to enrich your neighbors, would you not also use it for your own family?
Most of us spent the past 20 years implementing data mining tools and learning how to decipher its secrets to advance customer engagement and conversion. We build reports, headline meetings and make decisions on the direction of entire organizations based on this gleaned customer rich data. Yet, have our decades of learning and sophisticated skills ever been pointed inward. What are the employee pain points? What is our employee journey? What is a trigger for an employee?
As of 2022, the benefits of engaged employees are well established. “Employee engagement isn't a silver bullet, but it can have some pretty miraculous effects on your organization. And it doesn’t just correlate with great organizations, it can create great organizations” (Wickham, 2020). Hiring is expensive, exhausts morale, stifles production, and shifts focus away from growth. With the benefits well established and the chaos of the ‘Great Reshuffling,’ it’s time to learn the employee journey and highlight opportunities to improve morale and decrease attrition.
Accepting this situation of our new reality is only part of the needed recognition. Make no mistake; there are employees at the exit. For the millions of workers who were able to ditch their job, millions more could not do so but are at loitering at the exit. Illuminate the reasons they at the precipice. It’s best to ride a wave, not fight it.
Problems represent opportunities. An impactful means to start this process is creating regular, intelligent, and transparent quantitative research efforts: Surveys. If leadership is strong and prepared (as they should be) to put the power in the hands of their employees by giving them the freedom to shine a light on problems, surveys provide the data that can help you create a great organization.
Before turning these tools inward, we need to learn that data points lack nuance. It’s far too easy to miss the forest for the trees. During a course called big data and social physics, we discussed a case study about the city of Boston that employed an app development company to build an app (called BUMP) that utilized the phone's accelerometer to record bumps as people drove. The intent was to have enough city residents download this free app, which ran in the background and map the city of Boston’s potholes. The technology worked well, and enough people adopted its use to map and prioritize potholes successfully. However, there was a crucial failing. There was a significant socio-economic divide between the people who downloaded the app and those that did not. The app essentially mapped potholes in more affluent areas and did not alert many in economically stressed areas.
Be prepared to find that nuance and be transparent and own the results. Inauthentic efforts speak volumes. Consider a couple scenarios: A recent report from Levers surveyed more than 1000 employees and 500 HR decision-makers. 97% of the HR decision-makers stated that the company introduced diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) measures in the past year and yet a quarter of employees stated there have been no DEI measures (Schwantes, 2021). And consider, an employee survey resulting in 85% of employees preferring remote work at an organziation that has no intention and never had any intention of entertaining remote work. These two situations highlight inauthentic leadership and cause fissures in employer/employee relationships that damage future surveys, initiatives and decisions as these messages will be met with an eye-roll.
Although research indicates employee engagement lacks a standard definition, it has found a commonality of behavioral components, such as commitment, involvement, attachment, energy, positive attitude, and psychological presence, that leads to boosted engagement linked with improved performance and organizational success (Gupta & Sharma, 2016). An internal communication expert can create, implement, code, and report on employee data in a manner that offers immediate and impactful direction.
Let’s use this magic tool on our own home. Learn what motivates and demotivates. Use employee first principles.
Gupta, N., & Sharma, V. (2016). Exploring Employee Engagement—A Way to Better Business Performance. Global Business Review, 17(3_suppl), 45S-63S. https://doi.org/10.1177/0972150916631082
Schwantes, M. (2021, October 10). Study: What Companies Are Doing (and Not Doing) to Make the Workplace More Diverse. Inc.Com. https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/study-what-companies-are-doing-and-not-doing-to-make-workplace-more-diverse.html
Wickham, N. (2020, May 7). Why is Employee Engagement Important? 14 Benefits Backed By Research. Quantum Workplace. https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/14-benefits-of-employee-engagement-backed-by-research