Five things we learned from our employee engagement and technology webinar
Bosses still can’t decide whether the digital advance makes employee engagement easier or harder to achieve
“The past is a foreign country – they do things differently there,” wrote novelist HP Hartley – but he may as well have been talking about management styles in different industries. In sectors such as the media, pretty much everyone carries their own smartphones and tablets, and tweets and posts on Facebook whenever they feel the urge. Yet other sectors still operate (or try to) a complete lockdown on personal devices, banning social media and spending lots of resources trying to keep their IT networks watertight. In some of those industries, cybersecurity fears are the main motive. But in others, managers and leaders shut down communication platforms amid concerns that staffers could be distracted.
So, years after digital communications changed the workplace forever, managers are still unsure of how to handle it – and less still how to harness it as a force for good. Those issues of how technology affects employee engagement dominated April’s CMI/Citrix webinar, hosted by business futurist Gihan Perera.
Here’s what we learned…
1. Fewer than one in five employees are actively engaged with their employer
Worse than that, according to a Gallup survey, more than a quarter of employees are actively disengaged. Some 26% of workers are effectively “working against” their own company, according to Perera. And with 57% neither in one camp nor the other, a lack of employee engagement is, he said, a “real concern”.
2. Staff who can bring their own devices to work are more engaged…
Three quarters of companies who run bring your own devices (BYOD) policies say they get better engagement and decision making from their employees because of it, according to Forrester research. The keys to introducing BYOD policies include using cloud computing as much as possible, so employees can share data, and licensing people rather than devices. “If someone upgrades their smartphone, they shouldn’t have to go through a whole re-authorisation process in order to be able to use it,” Perera stressed.
3. …but many managers feel they cannot implement BYOD because of cybersecurity or social media concerns
Many of the webinar’s delegates questioned Perera over his call for BYOD – saying it led to security risks, both technical and reputational. “Just because you have those issues doesn't mean you should throw out BYOD altogether,” he responded. “Most social media policies are too strict … Employees have so many ways to trash their company’s reputation that restricting social media in the organisation is not the solution.” Instead, he urged, make employees more engaged and they will use social media and other platforms for good, not ill. “Then your reputation will be protected by your employees.”
4. A good way to engage employees is to avoid the term “engagement”
Perera’s colleague, the specialist employee engagement coach Philip Hutchinson, rarely talks about engagement because employees can interpret the term as “a little bit manipulative”. Instead, Perera said, follow Hutchinson’s lead by using the term “motivation”. Perera added that he never talks about engagement as a general goal – instead he breaks it down into a phased strategy…
5. Six golden rules to make employees more engaged
The Harvard Business Review outlines six key demands that make people want to work for employers. Perera cited those six factors as key to motivation and engagement:
i) Let me be myself
ii) Tell me what’s really going on
iii) Discover and magnify my strengths
iv) Make me proud I work here
v) Make my work meaningful
vi) Don’t hinder me with stupid rules