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Employee engagement in the digital world

Gys Kappers
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Corporate attention is alive with buzzwords and digital transformation initiatives that promise innovation, optimisation and personalisation. But, while they’re focused on transforming their output, of a product or service they offer, a customer they need to service or acquire and a competitor that could come from off their radar, what they’re not thinking about is how a digital strategy can transform the one thing critical to building and sustaining business value – their people. I believe it is important to extend this technology-driven approach to employee engagement.

It is often all things employee related that fall by the wayside when efficiency and cost reduction becomes the focus to business relevancy. And one of the biggest risks inherent in this approach is disengaging your workforce, to the point where they work against you.

Analytics company Gallup has found that actively disengaged employees cost the US up to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. In fact, in a local report in South Africa at least 42 out of every 100 staff members are not motivated to affect real change in their organisations and 73% highlighted the need for better communication from their organisations.

Ensuring optimal staff productivity is often a stumbling block in finding the balance between corporate interests and human resources. This does not mean the responsibility in doing this remains with the latter. Rather than either or, executives should look to digitisation strategies to improve employee productivity, well-being and ultimately engagement.

  • Integrating technology

Cynics might argue that less should be done on keeping employees happy and more attention paid to getting them to work harder. However, human resources remain a fundamental element to improving productivity. Work pressure has increased exponentially, technology is stretching the boundaries of a 9-5 work day and along with that the expectations to do more within a day or keep productive time flexible. In addition to optimising employee processes by digitising them, we should be making it easy for employees to contribute towards organisational deliverables at any time. And this is especially relevant for large companies with shift workers. For example, enabling them to report a problem on their home commute, or log an idea while waiting in reception for their next client meeting or from the comfort of their home at the end of the day will do wonders for employee engagement and attitude towards work. There must therefore be a balance between intensity of the job and developing people for the future of work, because what we know is that it will be different - it already is.

One of the problems we face when justifying the business case for investing in new ways of working is the lack of employee productivity metric data. Most organisations don’t define employee productivity and as a result, simply don’t measure it. However, this data becomes vital in enabling the business to integrate all the components needed to align human resources with company strategy.

As with other areas of the business, the role technology plays in this cannot be underestimated. In many ways, technology can be the enabling platform we need to bring the organisation closer to itself. Walking the line between motivation, culture and focused business growth.

  • Changing priorities

People are motivated by different things. For some, it is all about financial rewards, whilst others are looking for challenges and growth opportunities. Irrespective of these, companies cannot evaluate changing priorities if they do not understand the parameters they are working with.

Again, this is where technology takes on a whole new level of importance. Linking data with human resources can result in decision-makers planning ways to drive employee engagement. The pillar behind this is a connected employee experience. By spending time on understanding the nuances inherent inside the organisation needed to get the most out of employees, executives are fundamentally investing in the bottom-line.


Gys Kappers, CEO of Wyzetalk

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