Are Your Employees Unhappy? Here’s How Technology Can Help
Companies today are looking for new ways to motivate, train, and reward their employees. It’s about creating a workplace environment that is fun and supportive so that job satisfaction and productivity can improve.
This broader approach to training recognizes that new technologies can enhance the learning experience and make it more enjoyable for those participating.
The imperative to do so is increasing as many companies experience high levels of burnout and turnover in the workforce. Employee loyalty has been hurt by the layoffs and downsizing so prevalent in the North American economy over the last decade. Studies have shown that two-thirds of employees quit because they do not feel appreciated on the job.
This imposes real costs on employers. Data in the U.S. indicate that as many as 7 out of 10 employees do not consider themselves committed to the organization they work for. The resulting loss of productivity has been estimated at $350 billion per year. The high turnover rate adds an additional financial burden, since the cost of recruitment per job typically averages 1.5 times the annual salary of the position.
For all these reasons, companies have an opportunity to redefine training as something more than the acquisition of skills. Training can provide a chance to engage employees more closely in the organization while giving them greater feedback on what they do.
Technology plays a key role as employers turn to the use of corporate intranets. These portals often combine elements of popular social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter so that workers feel more in touch with their colleagues. The new tools provide recognition, build teamwork, offer rewards, and present new learning opportunities.
Let’s say I want to assess the knowledge level of my employees on different subjects related to their work. Typically, I can gather them in a room, teach them the material, and have them take a test to validate what they’ve learned. But that’s not particularly fun or engaging.
Another approach is to publish the material and test employee knowledge with online quizzes that have a game aspect to them. Elements of gamification are used to change the way employees interact so they’re more engaged than in the conventional question-and-answer test.
Those who do well can be recognized by a ranking system and awarded points that are redeemed at an online boutique where they are able to purchase a range of gifts.
Quizzes are not just ways to assess knowledge; they can be a learning opportunity in themselves. These tools are constructed so employees learn something new as they interact with their colleagues. If they enjoy the process, they are likely to learn much faster.
Creating Employee Superheroes
Technology allows employers to recognize workers who have performed well on the job, in a way that reverberates across the company and builds motivation.
The conventional approach is to simply go into the employee’s office, shake hands, and say, “Thank you very much for what you did for us yesterday, it really helped us.” If it’s well meant and done right, both parties will feel good about the gesture. But it stops there.
The alternative is to use some of the recognition platforms available on an intranet portal to salute the employee’s achievement. Everybody in the office then will have the opportunity to read about it in a newsfeed similar to a Facebook page. People can add their own likes and comments, so one simple act of recognition can be amplified hundreds of times as others join in.
Let’s say someone in another department notices the recognition on the newsfeed and doesn’t comment right away but sees the employee at the coffee machine an hour or two later. He can reinforce it with his personal act of congratulations. We’re getting much more out of the original act than if it had been done privately.
One can go a step further by making this into something fun. Instead of just posting a thank you note online, we can designate the employee as a Superhero. Once again, everyone can see it and comment on it.
At the end of the month, we can look at the person who received the most such recognitions and give him or her a certificate as the official Superhero of the month. At meetings with all employees in attendance, a certificate is presented and the employee’s picture is posted on external networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Now we have reached another level of recognition because friends of the employee outside the company can read about the accomplishment and add their own comments.
In our experience, employee participation rates on such platforms are 80 percent or more. Perhaps there are some who, because of the nature of their job, don’t really interact a lot with other employees. It might be difficult to bring them in at first, but we do so anyway.
Let’s say an accountant is working by himself. When he closes the month’s financial statements, there’s an opportunity to designate him as a Superhero and try to engage him.
Organizations are seeking to identify the factors that will make each employee more committed, fostering a greater sense of belonging. The methods that were once successful in human resource management are changing. They have been influenced by a new form of socialization—the presence of social networks in our daily lives.
Applying these new technologies to employee performance makes good business sense. Happy employees who are recognized for their work will have a direct impact on creativity, productivity, and the bottom line.
Marc-André Lanciault founded Karelab in 2003 (named INBOX at that time). With a background in Web technology and a strong passion to help people, to recognize their work, and to make them happier, he specializes in the creation of employee recognition and engagement programs. Lanciault holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an Information Technologies focus, from the Université du Québec à Montréal. He is also a Certified Recognition Professional (CRP). Karelab helps large companies increase their employees’ engagement and performance by developing adapted strategies, building a customized recognition platform, as well as implementing and managing an online rewards boutique. For more information, visit www.karelab.com.