Article: Leveraging tech to empower managers & enhance retention: Qualtrics’ Lauren Huntington on unlocking organisational potential

Employee Relations

Leveraging tech to empower managers & enhance retention: Qualtrics’ Lauren Huntington on unlocking organisational potential

Lauren underscored the limitations of traditional annual engagement studies, stressing the importance of agile and continuous listening practices. She advocated for supplementing these practices with diverse data sources, including email usage and meeting durations, to provide more timely insights.
Leveraging tech to empower managers & enhance retention: Qualtrics’ Lauren Huntington on unlocking organisational potential

In the pursuit of organisational excellence, tapping into untapped potential is paramount. Yet, potential isn't confined to specific roles or departments; it permeates every aspect of the organisation, waiting to be harnessed for growth and success.

Consider the analogy of kinetic and potential energy. While kinetic energy is evident in actions like an explosion, potential energy lies latent, like a drawn bowstring poised for release. With the right catalyst, potential energy transforms into kinetic energy, yielding remarkable outcomes—much like hitting the bullseye. Similarly, within your organisation lies untapped potential, ready to be channelled into transformative growth.

But how does one unlock this potential?

To delve into this question, we turned to Lauren Huntington, an organisational psychologist and EX strategist at Qualtrics, renowned for her expertise in fostering effective collaboration. She advocated for cultivating the right mindset among managers, establishing seamless information flow and processes, and engaging employees in the journey towards unlocking organisational potential.

Empowering managers: The synergy of technology and mindset alignment

Lauren stressed the importance of managers recognising the significance of actively engaging with their team's experiences on a daily basis, essentially tuning into the pulse of their teams in a manner that has yet to be fully embraced in managerial circles. 

"In our pursuit of enhancing collaboration, we're exploring innovative solutions, including interactive analytics tools that offer managers real-time insights into their team's dynamics," Lauren explained. These tools empower managers to dynamically explore their team's needs, enabling them to gauge stress levels relative to the organisation or industry and facilitating personalised conversations that resonate with team members. 

While traditional methods like annual engagement studies have their place, Lauren highlighted their limitations in providing timely insights. She emphasised the need for more agile and continuous listening practices, “supplemented by diverse data sources such as email usage and meeting durations.”

Additionally, she advocated for tapping into external forums where individuals discuss their organisational sentiments to gain valuable insights into employee experiences. However, Lauren underscored that technological advancements alone are not enough. “It's essential to align these tools with the right mindset and organisational governance to ensure effective utilisation and integration across the board. By fostering a culture of proactive engagement, leveraging technology as an enabler, and promoting data-driven decision-making, organisations can unlock the full potential of team synergy and drive sustainable success,” she told People Matters. 

Takeaways:

  • Cultivate mindset alignment for seamless collaboration.
  • Utilise interactive analytics tools for real-time insights and engagement.

Overcoming Red Tape: Bridging the gap to vision

In the modern corporate landscape, bureaucracy often looms as a formidable obstacle to innovation and progress. While its inception was rooted in the need for order and control, the layers of processes and procedures can become overly complex, stifling agility and hindering organisational growth. The expert in organisational dynamics shed light on this challenge, emphasising the fragmentation of essential data across various organisational functions. 

“Skills data, employee sentiment data and compensation and job levels are often scattered, making it difficult to gain a holistic understanding of the organisation's dynamics. Whether focusing on employee experience, skills-based organisation, or remuneration simplification, initiatives tend to operate in isolation, creating silos within the organisation,” said Lauren Huntington. 

She further explained how this siloed mindset, compounded by the clunky structures prevalent in larger organisations exacerbates the problem. “Despite the desire to foster agility and enable career crafting, rigid pay systems and cumbersome processes impede progress,” she highlighted and outlined the need for organisations to confront and overcome bureaucratic red tape. 

By recognising the barriers posed by fragmented data and siloed behaviour, organisations can begin the journey toward bridging the gap to their vision. This entails streamlining processes, integrating data sources, and fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation. Additionally, addressing legal and procedural hurdles is essential to creating a conducive environment for organisational transformation. 

In essence, overcoming bureaucratic obstacles requires a concerted effort to dismantle silos, streamline processes, and foster agility. By leveraging technology, embracing data integration, and promoting cross-functional collaboration, organisations can navigate the complexities of bureaucracy and realise their vision for organisational excellence. “It is through such initiatives that the stifling grip of red tape can be loosened, paving the way for innovation, growth, and success in the modern corporate landscape,” Lauren told us. 

Takeaways:

  • Break down bureaucratic barriers for organizational agility and innovation.
  • Integrate data, streamline processes, and promote cross-functional collaboration.

Opening doors to employee involvement: From solving for to solving with

Every year, companies invest significant resources into enhancing their technology infrastructure. Whether it involves upgrading existing tools or procuring new solutions, ensuring that technology aligns with business objectives remains an ongoing challenge. However, simply acquiring the right tools is only part of the equation. 

Successful implementation hinges on the acceptance and adoption of these technologies by end-users. While resistance to change is natural among employees, it should not impede the company's technological advancement. Developing a clear strategy and assembling a team of experts can ultimately yield substantial savings in the long term. Therefore, considering the critical importance of user adoption, Lauren outlined key factors that leaders should bear in mind.

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Foster cross-functional collaboration: Establish teams comprising individuals from diverse departments and hierarchical levels within the organisation. These teams should encompass a range of perspectives and experiences, even if technical expertise is lacking.

Promote open dialogue: Instead of confining discussions to closed-door meetings, encourage all employees to contribute ideas and feedback. Cultivate an inclusive environment where everyone feels empowered to share their insights and concerns regarding technology adoption.

Empower employees in problem-solving: Encourage active participation from employees in devising solutions to challenges associated with technology implementation. This collaborative approach ensures that solutions are customised to meet the specific needs and realities of the workforce.

Engage employees from the outset: Recognise the pivotal role of employees in generating content and training data sets for organisational-level technology initiatives. Therefore, involve them in discussions and decision-making processes from the initial stages.

Embrace diversity in input: Emphasise the value of diverse perspectives in shaping technology adoption strategies. Understand that addressing complex challenges necessitates input from individuals with varied backgrounds and viewpoints.

Foster an inclusive mindset: Transition away from conventional top-down approaches and embrace a culture where employee input is not only welcomed but also integrated from the outset. This shift in mindset cultivates a culture of collaboration and innovation.

Seize the opportunity for transformation: Acknowledge that the present moment presents an opportunity to rethink approaches and adopt a more inclusive stance toward technology adoption. Embrace this opportunity to usher in change and foster a culture where employee voices are heard and valued.

Takeaways:

  • Foster cross-functional collaboration for inclusive technology adoption.
  • Empower employees in problem-solving for effective technology implementation.

The interplay between retention and well-being

In the intricate dance of organisational dynamics, the ebb and flow of human capital holds a pivotal role. Attracting talent through recruitment and retaining it within the organisation are twin pillars of workforce management. While extensive research delves into recruitment and retention strategies, much of it is rooted in understanding global nuances. Lauren Huntington shed light on this, emphasising that retention is intricately tied to industry dynamics rather than geographical location. 

“In regions like India and Indonesia, where a sizable workforce continually enters the job market, retention isn't always a pressing concern unless specific industry or skill-related challenges arise. Organisations are increasingly shifting their focus from solving retention issues outright to predicting and managing turnover trends. Rather than striving to eliminate turnover entirely, they seek to anticipate it, identifying early indicators and underlying causes to take proactive measures,” she said. 

Lauren further added that, “this predictive approach allows organisations to strategise effectively, such as addressing salary disparities in high-demand skill areas like AI. Meanwhile, the discourse around employee well-being, or being, remains a paramount concern, particularly in emerging economies.”

The Covid-19 pandemic underscored this, revealing hesitancy among employees in countries like Thailand to take sick leave, reflecting broader concerns about workplace culture and support systems. Despite acknowledging the importance of employee well-being, organisations often fall short in translating recognition into action. Many resort to superficial measures like offering perks or benefits without addressing fundamental issues related to job design and managerial relationships. 

“However, genuine well-being isn't achieved through superficial gestures but rather through a holistic approach that encompasses various facets of organisational life. Job satisfaction, managerial support, and organisational structure are all critical components contributing to employee well-being. Therefore, organisations must shift their focus from mere retention efforts to cultivating an environment where well-being naturally thrives. By prioritising these fundamental aspects, organisations can not only enhance retention but also foster a healthier, more engaged, and ultimately more productive workforce,” she concluded. 

Takeaways:

  • Prioritise holistic well-being to enhance retention and productivity. 
  • Shift from reactive to predictive retention strategies for workforce management.
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Topics: Employee Relations, #Culture, #HRTech, #HRCommunity

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