Future of staff engagement

The rationale implicit in digital transformation and a wide range of reorganisation projects lies in customer experience, or customers’ journeys. The focus on the customer has become the new source of differentiation in an era of commoditized consumption yet the exclusivity of this focus ignores a key group of people that help drive productivity. BCG notes that whilst ‘…companies spend $1 trillion a year understanding and shaping their customers’ journeys, they spend 1,000 times less gathering and acting on insights about their own employees[i].’ This is remarkably unbalanced and more likely than not to contribute to a degree of turnover, both customer and employee, given the key role customer service can play in customer retention.

staff-engagement

That is not to say that business ignore their employees – some 77% of executives believe that people analytics is important[ii]. The purpose and application of such analytics is, however, equally important – whether it used as a carrot, a stick or something in between. But as BCG notes, ‘…what if companies used the same tools and techniques to learn what engages, frustrates, and inspires their employees?’

The benefits from introducing such a worker focussed system is two-fold. First, public trust is greater in organisations that actively treat their employees and second is the new normal that an imminent Millennial-dominated workforce represents. Millennials are forecast to achieve numerical advantage in the workforce in many countries over the next decade yet remain the least engaged part of the workforce (less than 29% report feeling engaged[iii]). Standard prescriptions of flexible working and the promise of a provision for work-life balance are unlikely to increase this or suffice as stand-alone efforts to increase the in-flow of Millennial talent to a given company.

Research has revealed the desire amongst a majority of Millennials for a sense of purpose in their job, as well as a desire for more feedback compared to other generations. This latter point also extends unto technology, where the choice of a given medium will increasingly be expected to at least match the consumer technology experience empowering their personal lives. Meeting these initial Millennial needs will require many companies to either restructure, learn new capabilities or in some cases, repurpose their business model and the difficulty in doing-so – whether stemming from cultural or managerial inertia or just the cost of implementing change –  will undoubtedly dissuade many companies from attempting fundamental change. This would be a major mistake however; since aside from constituting the future workforce, Millennials offer the perfect testing ground for introducing metrics that actively measure employees’ performance, wellbeing and engagement as well as unearthing insights into how these measures can be improved. It is about time worker engagement and experience received the levels of attention given to customers.

[i] https://www.bcgperspectives.com/onwards-upwards-growth/people-productivity/need-treat-employees-thoughtfully-as-customers

[ii] http://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/focus/human-capital-trends/2016/people-analytics-in-hr-analytics-teams.html

[iii] http://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2016/02/25/how-to-engage-the-millennial-workforce/#7b22b3028d26

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