Let’s Get Upfront and Personal

Using technology to connect better with your employees.

I think we are getting ready to be more upfront and personal with our employees.

And we are going to do all of this through technology. Say what?

As my daughter signed in to Google the other day, the Google doodle on the search page had a birthday cake on her special day. And as a Facebook subscriber to Cirque du Soleil, she received from the company a personalized video with the calendar date of her birthday and her printed name displayed in it. Personal touch, for sure.

I woke up this morning, like you probably did, too, to find Facebook reminding me of a personal friend’s birthday. Then my e-mails also told me, via LinkedIn, of a work colleague’s birthday and of others who have started new work positions or reached a work anniversary. However, I know one person who must have entered an incorrect date in their profile, so I didn’t congratulate them on reaching their 114th work anniversary!

My own company’s social recognition platform has peers and managers acknowledging one another for special actions performed, as well as birthdays and anniversaries, and I am able to join in and add my commendation and support.

These are nice reminders that allow me to choose to send a personal note to congratulate or start a dialog with some of my many friends and associates.

We are entering the era of technology-driven personalization. Technology can enable us as leaders and organizations to determine people’s preferences and needs through profile data, program usage based upon one’s interaction with various online programs, identified interests, and other activities based on social media content.

We all know the Amazon experience in regards to personalization. You go online to buy a book, and when you return, you find a row of other books headed by “related to items you’ve viewed” inspired by your browsing history or shopping items purchased, additional items to explore, and even recommendations such that if you viewed one item, here’s what other customers who looked at your selection also viewed.

Each employee can design his or her own “social identity,” which Charlene Li of the Altimeter Group defines as “one’s personal data and online social activities that present a picture of a person and their likes, preferences, and potential needs.” While most social identity insights tend to focus more on a consumer marketing perspective, all these methods will assist us in the workplace, as well.

Retailers are most proficient with their own apps for collecting information and tailoring the sending of coupons and product information to consumers. They even can transmit within their stores using beacons that send coupons or directions using Bluetooth technology right in the product aisles.

Within the workplace, even if people do not have computers but do have personal smart phones, beacons similar to the retail setup could be installed to transmit the location of the closest online HR kiosk for benefits selection and other employee needs. Or if you lingered near a particular poster about an upcoming entertainment event, a discount coupon could pop up on your phone sponsored by the company.

The idea is to engage employees through the various online service programs such as employee recognition, benefits and HR portals, social collaboration tools, learning management systems (LMSs), and other accessed education and learning.

Leaders need to graduate from metrics to analytics. This means going below the surface and identifying important connections and patterns in the data to make better workforce decisions. Take, for example, text mining content from collaboration tools, documents, and customer feedback to social recognition posts, and then contextually predicting what you are interested in, what you want to know, and identifying talents and strengths you are displaying at work.

Using your IT infrastructure and in-house software systems such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and HRIS (Human Resource Information System), you can gain a wealth of quantitative data for analysis and predicting.

Include some qualitative pop-up surveys when employees log in to your intranet portal and you can mesh data with how employees feel about engagement and satisfaction levels. The goal is to obtain as much data as possible from a variety of sources so you can generate insights about the connections and relationships that may exist. This allows you to drive real-time responses to your employees’ real-time behaviors.

Taking an analytical approach to employee and performance data will help you predict engagement, who is at risk of leaving an organization, and where the focus should be placed to improve productivity levels and other important key performance indicators. And it can be done in real time and not through a lagging engagement survey.

Some people worry that all this data analysis of profiles and user information is an invasion of privacy and even a little creepy.

Privacy always will be a concern, but get ready for the next generation of workers. Seems Generation Z—the teens, preteens, and kids in your neighborhood today—doesn’t mind sharing information. According to a recent Pew research study, teens share more information about themselves on social media than ever before. When you compare 2012 data with 2006, this is what these young people shared:

  • 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
  • 71% post their school name, up from 49%.
  • 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
  • 53% post their e-mail address, up from 29%.
  • 20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.

Our intentions always must be genuine and ethical in using this new found source of information to assist our employees and ourselves in fulfilling their purposes and achieving our strategic initiatives.

Who would ever have thought that technology could assist us in being more personal with people? We finally are reaching the era of integration of high tech with high touch.

Roy Saunderson is author of “GIVING the Real Recognition Way” and Chief Learning Officer of Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute, a consulting and training firm specializing in helping companies “get recognition right.” Its focus is on showing leaders how to give real recognition to create positive relationships, better workplaces, and real results. For more information, contact RoySaunderson@Rideau.com or visit http://www.Rideau.com.

Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP
Roy Saunderson, MA, CRP, is author of “Practicing Recognition” and Chief Learning Officer at Rideau Recognition Solutions. His consulting and learning skills focus on helping companies “give real recognition the right way wherever they are.” For recognition insights, visit: http://AuthenticRecognition.com. For more information, e-mail him at: RoySaunderson@Rideau.com or visit: www.Rideau.com