In 2013, Gallup Organization did a study on over 1.4 million employees to determine that organizations experienced 22% higher productivity when the employees showed a high level of engagement. We often restrict consumption of digital medium to mainframe systems & software, employee training, communication, operational activities, etc. However, in this COVID hit world, one missing link to employee productivity is the usage of digitization for employee engagement. Traditionally digital employee engagement means celebrating festivals online virtually with few sessions on health and self-development or discussion forums with management teams. But the role of digitization in employee engagement is beyond that. Employee engagement through digitization can improve productivity from all directions. This article will look at how one can use digital platforms to engage employees differently in remote work conditions, leading to higher productivity.
- Socialization: Irrespective of the generations and employee personalities we deal with, human beings like to interact with colleagues, although limited but regularly. Few studies have confirmed that informal relationships help employees feel better connected to organization and give them a sense of control over their work environment. With the current remote location work environment, the same is not possible. Working in silos reduces engagement and impacts productivity. Hence, organizations have to come out with informal forums of interaction for employees apart from doing digital engagement activities. The use of digital platforms will resolve the problem. Slowly, organizations have to create such platforms that must replicate features available in popular social media platforms, in a professional context. These innovative platforms would connect employees with each other, enabling sharing of thoughts and ideas and would facilitate discussion and sharing views with each other. This will not only increase team bonding in remote work conditions but will restore the interpersonal connection increasing trust and synergy.
- Meaning at work: One other indirect impact of engagement is to create sense at work. An employee who can associate and link himself to his work becomes productive. In this virtual environment, when managers and peers interact virtually and performance management discussion happens online, employees can hardly associate themselves with their work. When an employee achieves his target, manages the task on time, helps others, and creates his own feedback loop on performance, meaning at work is achieved. Digitization should promote and facilitate every aspect mentioned above and should be capable of bringing this into reality. This can only happen when an organization can interconnect all digital platforms like PMS, intranet, HRMS, etc. together and is able to gamify the whole experience. This creates a loop that can behave as a virtual world for the employee. An employee should be able to experience reality using this digital net. Technology like AI will facilitate the interconnection within these systems. The system hence should be able to gamify the whole employee performance experience.
- Digital Mindset: Preparing for the change on time is wise, and leaders adapt quickly. Covid era has established one truth that in the future, a virtual workplace is inevitable. While organizations have started preparing for the same, we often forget to prepare and train our employees. There will be a significant psychological shift from employees' perspectives as we enter the digital workplace era. Organizations now have to plan from both sides. Behavioral training as to how an employee should adopt this culture, along with on-job training, is now a must. This activity is more critical for generation X & Y as generation Z is almost aligned to this behavior. Byte size simulation modules, unique online workplace etiquette, managing time, and work-life balance in such situations will be some of the essential modules the human resource department and L&D should work on.
- Get the best candidate in: Productivity automatically improves when you have a pool of talented performing employees. Hence attracting the right talent is critical. Social recruiting is using social media channels for recruiting. The term refers to different ways of using social media networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and websites (blogs, forums, job boards, and websites like Glassdoor etc.) to find, attract and hire talent. 8 out of 10 selected candidates in this new generation, decide to offer acceptance post thorough online research. Hence managing feedback in social media and job sites is an essential task for today's HR and the company's PR team. Especially in industries like IT/ ITES, this looks like a common phenomenon. Even in the FMCG and Consumer durable industry, it has become a vital tool in decision making. Each negative comment on the website is a stimulus to an offer drop and certainly going against the organization. A study by Harvard Business Review and ICM Unlimited released in 2016 found that companies with more than 10000 employees could be spending up to $ 7.6 million in additional wages to compensate for a poor employer reputation. Hence, managing social media and the internet is as essential as any other business activity.
- It's a little too much: While in the previous 3 sections we had talked about using digitization for engagement leading to productivity, this section talks about how inappropriate usage can lower productivity. Online discussion. meetings, HR engagement events can sometimes cause distractions. 73% respondents in a survey conducted by Techrepublic mentioned that online interaction creates the illusion of productivity when in reality a little work is produced or completed. Hence human resource professionals in an organization should also work as an evaluator to monitor and control online interactions, which can be related to business or employee engagement. The digital net around employees can hamper employee productivity and sometimes can create stress and psychological imbalance. Most of the time management and HR team may consider these communications as business as usual and tend to ignore them. However, it's in the interest of the organization to monitor such communications.
Digital is the new world for organizations and for individuals. It is our duty to weigh and use it appropriately. It's always “at your own risk”.