Employers have a vested interest in improving employee engagement as it is directly connected to culture, productivity, and profitability. Many think that providing office ping-pong tables and free coffee are all they need to do, but these superficial changes and trendy office perks won’t make a difference. To reduce turnover rates and create healthy company cultures, employers need to understand the trends that matter to today’s employees and how the digital workplace can help move the needle on engagement.
What’s Driving Low Engagement?
Employee engagement continues to be a serious problem in the American workplace. Fifty-one percent of employees are actively looking for a new job while working at their current company, and only 33 percent consider themselves to be engaged in their work.
The natural outcome of low engagement is higher turnover rates. In the U.S., the tenure of workers is steadily declining, from 4.6 years in 2014 to 4.2 years in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Disengaged employees also make it difficult to attract new talent. When employees leave negative reviews on sites such as Glassdoor or other social media outlets, the negative buzz directly impacts the ability to recruit the best and the brightest candidates, jeopardizing the achievement of key business goals.
Office perks such as on-tap cold brew and game rooms are fine, but employees aren’t disengaged because they lack easy access to artisanal iced coffee and ping-pong tables. To reduce churn and create more engaged workforces, employers need to gain clarity on several workplace trends.
- Work has gone mobile. From remote employees to field crews, the workplace is more geographically dispersed than ever. Approximately a quarter of the global workforce teleworks at some frequency, and employees are away from their desks more than 50 percent of the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics. To eliminate the potential for disjointedness, employers need to go the extra mile to make sure workers can stay connected with supervisors, peers, and clients.
- Talent wars have been declared. Millennials view work as an experience rather than a simple transaction of work for wages. This is upending the traditional view of company loyalty. Unlike their parents and grandparents, Millennial employees don’t plan to stay at a company for many years, and will leave to find a better position elsewhere. The “revolving door” effect makes it difficult for employers to maintain positive company cultures. Now, companies must invest further in their people to stabilize the workforce and create the conditions for more cultural improvement.
- The Bring-Your-Own-App (BYOA) movement scatters information. From file-sharing systems to team collaboration tools and instant messaging, teams and individuals use a variety of different apps to make work easier. But while these apps may improve individual productivity, they also can create data silos, discourage knowledge sharing, and pose security risks when not integrated into the core IT stack. Enabling employees to access all of these tools, in the context of the work they are doing, from a digital workplace streamlines communication and increases efficiency.
- The Generation Gap is alive and well. Several different generations have a strong presence in today’s workplace and each generation has different expectations for workplace interactions. Businesses increasingly need a user-friendly hub to unite the various age groups, and streamline interaction and knowledge sharing. There may be friction, but technology can help break down those barriers.
The Solution? Embrace a Digital Workplace
The solution for low engagement and tackling the four workplace trends that are impacting productivity and innovation is to create a more connected workforce. As employees become more diverse in terms of age and location, workplaces need technologies that unite individuals and teams—tools that offer the ability to create a social community; build connections with senior leadership; share company news; and enable employees to connect to the people, processes, and information they need to do their jobs.
Previous generations of intranets were cumbersome, lacked an intuitive user experience, and did not have the ability to integrate with personal productivity apps and enterprise systems. However, the digital workplace has all of these things in a central destination. The “next-gen” intranet is a digital representation of the physical workplace that is easily accessible to all employees, regardless of location, language, and time zone.
Robust digital workplace platforms provide a convenient location where employees go to start their workdays and visit throughout the day to engage with purpose-built solutions that improve communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing across individuals and teams. Integration with productivity apps, enterprise systems such as CRM (customer relationship management) and HRIS (Human Resources information system), and centralized information access encourage employee participation and provide an on-ramp to the cultural and social dimensions of the platform that help geographically dispersed team members feel more connected to the organization.
The key to successfully implementing a digital workplace platform is to make it an essential component of every employee’s day-to-day tasks, at both a productivity and social level. They’ll come for the essentials, and they will stay for the collaboration abilities, cultural content, and ultimately, the community.
Disengaged employees won’t magically re-engage with their workplaces—it’s on employers to get serious about solving the challenges that are causing low employee engagement. And in the current climate of more mobile workforces, generational friction, and siloed information, the digital workplace offers an attractive and efficient solution for disengaged workers to enjoy more satisfying and rewarding work experiences.
With more than 17 years of marketing experience, Mike Hicks has led the marketing integration for several mergers and acquisitions, with proven experience leveraging technology to harness the collective knowledge of global teams to increase collaboration and productivity. Before becoming the VP of marketing and strategy at Igloo Software, Hicks held leadership positions at several other companies, including Blackberry. Igloo is a leading provider of digital workplace solutions, helping companies build inspiring digital destinations for a more productive and engaged workforce.