Keeping employees engaged is a sure way to reduce turnover and improve productivity, as workers who feel like they have a say in the direction of the company tend to stick around longer and work harder.
Yet many companies use outdated methods to interact with their employee bases — or simply don’t have any employee engagement efforts in place at all.
Nearly 78 percent of organizations use email as a primary method to communicate with employees and nearly 49 percent use newsletters, according to a recent survey by StaffConnect. Less than 2 percent of organizations use mobile apps or other new technologies as their primary modes of communication with employees. As companies increasingly turn to gig and remote workers complete projects and reach goals, their outdated communication tools won’t be good enough to keep everyone engaged, connected, and informed.
“Over 80 percent of the global workforce are non-desk workers,” according to Geraldine Osman, vice president of marketing for StaffConnect. “Many of them don’t even have access to a corporate email address, let alone a desk where they can pick up a printed newsletter. For employee communication to be truly successful, it needs to reach the entire workforce, wherever they are based.”
Osman notes that email and newsletters are also problematic because they are purely “broadcast tools” that do not offer employees any means of expressing their voices, sharing opinions, or giving feedback.
“The only channel that can do this effectively is mobile,” Osman says.
Employee Engagement in the Age of Big Data
With the capabilities that exist for gathering data today, companies that aren’t taking advantage of recent technologies to improve operations are leaving value on the table.
As the old saying goes, what gets measured gets managed.
“It is important to understand the before and after picture to get a true representation of your employee engagement efforts and to know which areas may need more development,” Osman says. “One of the key areas to measure the success of your engagement initiative is adoption rates. When launching a new communications tool, it is important to find out how many of your employees are actively using it and know if you need to adjust your content or communication strategy.”
Osman recommends organizations track key metrics such as peak interaction times, most popular formats, and most interesting topics in order to understand how employees are responding to and using new communications technologies.
“All these trends can be used to tailor your content according to employees’ preferences and to continually improve engagement levels across the entire workforce,” she says.
Despite the measurable advantages that come from investing in data-driven engagement solutions, more than 25 percent of respondents to StaffConnect’s survey stated they have no plans to improve their employee engagement efforts in 2018. This is a risky decision, as disengaged employees can be detrimental to business in a whole host of ways.
“Reports from industry experts such as Deloitte tell us that productivity decreases when employees are not actively engaged, absenteeism rises, and attrition rates soar,” Osman says. “This indisputably leads to steep declines in company performance and profit. The rise of social media and employee review sites such as Glassdoor offer far greater transparency into workforce cultures, serving as outlets where disengaged employees share negative experiences which ultimately damage your brand and adversely impact your ability to attract and retain talent.”
Engaging a Changing Workforce
Company leaders in an increasingly wide range of industries are taking advantage of the gig economy to cut costs or access highly specific skill sets that don’t exist within their own organizations. What many businesses fail to realize, however, is that every person who performs work for a company becomes a representative of that company’s brand. This means that all workers — from remote sales staff and temps to freelancers and traditional employees — should be targeted by an employee engagement campaign that ensures they are up to date on the company’s direction and latest best practices.
“Our survey told us that a high and rapidly growing percentage of employees are freelancers or gig workers,” Osman says. “In order for remote workers to be kept in the loop and understand the values, goals, and mission of the organization they work for, there must be an effective employee communication strategy in place alongside a channel which is able to drive engagement.”
Executives and HR personnel who invest in employee engagement will see a significant return on investment. Engaged employees are happier. Happier employees work harder. Employees who work harder are more productive. High productivity means increased profits, better customer service, and positive brand exposure. If you don’t have plans to improve employee engagement in the near future, what exactly are you waiting for?