A recent KPMG study showed how the pandemic persuaded HR teams across the United Arab Emirates to promote flexibility over full-time office work.
The report also highlighted the greater stress now placed on economic, social and governance (ESG) factors, which include issues of diversity, inclusion, and workplace culture.
Meanwhile, business intelligence from advanced digital platforms is turning the HR value proposition on its head. Employers now recognise the subtle escalation in the challenge of retaining talent in a post-COVID workspace and are looking for ways to enhance employees’ environment and experience. They also use analytics to identify opportunities for upskilling – another practice favoured by today’s workforce.
This train never stops. The HR function now understands that employee engagement is pivotal to customer satisfaction. The jury is in; the data has spoken. The two are linked. But keeping employees engaged is a challenge in the age of remote work. Technology, always being the enabler, has become an ironic spanner in business machinery. A recent Freshworks-Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Pulse Survey, Technology’s Make or Break Role in Employee Engagement, showed that 92 per cent of business leaders believe employee engagement is critical to success. And there is evidence that leaders know that high employee engagement increases customer satisfaction and brings other business benefits, such as better products and services and improved customer relationships, which are known to be the backbone of robust sales.
So, how do employers keep employees engaged in a world driven by employee engagement? Here are three best practices.
Empower their productivity
On the first day at work, an employee that sees the value-adding result of their labour goes home encouraged. Seamlessly onboarding is a key part of this. Today, businesses are just as much under review from employees as employees are from them. From their application experience as a candidate through to their last day of service, the employee notices their employer’s good and evil. If they arrive on Day One and can immediately log in to the network and start being productive, they will tend to believe that the organisation cares about them.
Empowering employees from the start takes coordination and collaboration. HR must be in sync with the IT team. The Human Resource Management System (HRMS) and the IT service management (ITSM) desk must be integrated to the point that every joining employee starts their first day of work with a laptop or desktop, a working username, password, and email address, and all the apps they need to fulfil their function. Single-platform solutions that merge HR, IT, facilities, and admin ensure the optimum employee experience.
Address their issues… fast
Across the UAE, the GCC, and beyond, customers are the driving force behind most business decisions. The customer is the one constant challenge that is recycled to challenge repeatedly. Competition in the digital economy is all about outdoing the rest of the market in customer experiences, whether in an app, on a webpage or in a one-to-one engagement channel with employees. Employees are part of the customer experience, so if an employee finds themselves without a key digital tool, the IT team needs to move like a pit crew in a Grand Prix race to ensure the employee experience – and by association, the customer experience – does not suffer.
Such issues are again more easily addressed by fully integrated service desks that take the friction out of requests and boost productivity.
Equip them with the right tools
Employees must be connected to business intelligence in real-time that allows them to make on-the-spot decisions that impact the customer experience, and hence the business, in positive ways. Tools, be they hardware, software, or services, paving the way to success in project delivery, sales, marketing, communication, and a slew of other disciplines.
Many solutions allow the timely delivery of such equipment and services. Some employees can browse online catalogues as if shopping and even receive an estimated delivery date for their request.
These are the experiences every employee needs to have to be constantly engaged. Frictionless environments empower, encourage, and equip as needed, ensuring each employee understands where they fit in the business’ vision. The future of the employee experience is the individualisation of the employee experience. In that regard, it is similar to the customer experience. Questions such as “Are they happy?”, “Are they engaged?” and “What do they think of the company?” are common to each.
It is therefore not surprising that businesses are beginning to invest in artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the employee experience. Even as issues such as mental and emotional health come to the fore, employers are using digital platforms to ensure knowledge workers feel included. And other technology investments contribute to the morale, such as providing employees with powerful, easy-to-use tools that allow them to see the positive results of their efforts.
This idea is not abstract. Some 77 per cent of those in our pulse survey said good employees would likely seek alternative positions if they were not empowered by appropriate technology to add value. Therefore, it is incumbent upon a business looking to optimise retention ratios to not only supply the right tools but also give employees a say in their selection.
It is a simple lesson. Happy employees make for happy customers. The idea might have drawn derision for decades, but not anymore. We have too much data now, too much experience, to disregard the importance of empowered employees in our midst.