By Ben Williams, Co-Founder, Loopin
The Covid pandemic has accelerated changes that we were already seeing in workplace culture – with employee engagement and wellbeing becoming the responsibility of the whole workforce, not just HR. The companies that have happy employees and excellent retention are those that have employment engagement at the centre of their business strategy. And that will continue to be the case.
Having worked with global organisations and international sports teams for many years in coaching and people engagement, I have seen first hand the difference a great people strategy has in increasing employee happiness, productivity and retention, and the positive changes that can be felt in just a matter of weeks.
How data and technology are reshaping how we manage people
Data and technology are reshaping business in a range of ways. They are now being used by leaders, managers and HR to manage and monitor employee happiness, wellbeing, engagement and productivity.
During the pandemic, companies have had to adapt quickly to employees working from home. Deploying new systems and technology to enable employees to continue to work as they would in an office setting, as well as implement new processes for monitoring productivity and employee wellbeing.
Most businesses have found that productivity has remained constant, but frequent video conferencing and longer working hours, alongside homeschooling, has led to more employees suffering from stress and burnout.
Which employees have been worst hit by the pandemic?
A survey by Ipsos Mori has revealed that it is the youngest generation of workers and women with children who have been impacted the most by the pandemic. These groups of people have typically been hit with the loss of employment, furlough, lack of time with their team and management, lack of learning and development, and the need to manage homeschooling and home life alongside work.
We know that stress, relationships, growth, fairness, clarity, autonomy, recognition and workload all impact how engaged an employee is with their work, their team, their manager, their clients and the company’s values. Happier and more engaged employees lead to greater employee retention, happier clients, greater productivity, and profits.
Using data to better understand employees
Data and technology is playing an increasingly important role in helping organisations to survive and grow. Creating systems and plug-in technology that harnesses data and insight directly from employees is gold dust for any company.
There are a range of technologies in the marketplace that are helping organisations to bridge the gap between digital engagement and wellbeing in the workplace – providing managers and leaders with better insight into how an employee is feeling, what parts of their job they most enjoy, when they are most engaged with their work, for example.
Technology and data can also be used to pinpoint issues and concerns. Perhaps an employee has an issue with their workload, a new team member, a new client, or a lack of training and development. Getting to the heart of problems quickly is key. Employees will feel more valued and more likely to speak about issues when this is the case. They are also likely to be more collaborative and creative when it comes to inputting on new strategies and business plans.
The benefits of an open-culture approach
Receiving real-time data, getting a picture of how an employee feels, and understanding an employee’s motivations and concerns, opens a two-way dialogue and enables managers to jump in quickly to assist with any issues and concerns. It also provides managers with the insight they need to develop more effective leadership strategies. But this requires buy-in from the employee and a cultural shift for some organisations.
Whilst in theory, technology can be implemented and used by any organisation, it isn’t for everyone.
For data and insight to be used appropriately, organisations need to adapt to an open culture, a trusted environment where every opinion and feeling is valued, and employees feel they can speak-up and be rewarded for their honesty. Ultimately, these tools should bring people and teams together.
Technology that monitors mood should not be seen as a tool to monitor employee performance. It should not be harnessed to provide HR and managers with a way to get rid of someone. Instead, businesses should want to create and retain a sense of community, a ‘we’re all in this together’ approach.
A new age of working
The pandemic has changed the way we will work for a generation. Increasing communication between employee, manager, and team has never been more important, especially as more businesses are looking to implement flexible working arrangements as a long-term practice.
Employees are likely to go into the office 2-3 days a week and work the remainder from home. Video conferencing and instant messenger have already proven to be helpful communication and interactive tools, and so too will technology and data, as businesses monitor employee wellbeing, mood and happiness more closely.
Businesses shouldn’t just stop at employee engagement and wellbeing. Combining employee engagement and wellbeing monitoring and measurement tools with mentoring and development programmes will lead to happier, inspired, more positive people. This combined approach is the future of creating the cultural transformation organisations will need to survive within an ever changing workplace.