In a world of constant change, the ability to learn quickly and adapt to new work patterns is vital for both employees and their employers. Martin Moran, Managing Director International, InsideSales.com.
In a highly competitive and increasingly globalised marketplace, an agile and flexible workforce is essential to achieving and maintaining growth. Also essential is data – about the company as well as its employees. The use of data for better and more personalised employee management and engagement is growing, thanks to more electronic workflows within business, and employees being more digitally engaged. What implications does this have for the way we manage our people? The knowledge we gain from data holds unlimited possibilities for people management. However, it is the combination of algorithm, data and process integration that is really impactful. For example, enabling sales people to easily interact with propensity models e.g. customer engagement profiling, best offer, best time to call, will enable the capture and identification of work behaviour. We can learn what motivates and demotivates employees, what enables them and prevents them from reaching their true potential.
Ultimately, we can use this information to ensure we improve engagement with employees, as well as boost their productivity. Smart organisations are investing in AI to manage their workforces utilising both internal and external data sources. The more we know about how employees function and the wider environment within which they live, the better we will be able to understand the causes and effects relating to employee engagement, and the more likely we are to pinpoint how to optimise productivity and effectiveness.
Why is this important?
The workforce generational profile is changing – we are now faced with the challenge of managing and enabling a new generation – millennials. What do we know about this group? They want to use technology that has value to them and provides them with positive consumer-like experiences. They are collaborative and entrepreneurial, but also competitive. They also prefer to be self-managed and have a non-linear workflow. Traditional work processes and systems are disconnected from the needs and expectations of millennials. While this can be seen as a problem, it could actually be an opportunity to capitalise on the data we have available. We need to use this to be more reflective of the way they work and how they work, and adapt an agile approach that keeps productivity high and aligns with the characteristics of this generation.
To give you an example of how this can be done, let’s look at gamification. The use of gamification in the workplace is one way we can address the collaborative and competitive nature of millennials. Gamification can use intelligent analysis to assess employee’s performance and compare them. Take the sales industry, for example. Data can be used to foster both competition amongst sales reps and collaboration between teams, such as tackling periods with a low volume of calls with a “Power Hour” – a designated hour committed to nothing but selling. By providing visibility of results, employees with naturally push themselves to compete with their peers.
From our own research, we found that introducing game elements into the workforce increased sales by up to 38 per cent. Young employees enjoy a fun, competitive environment, which is something that employers need to consider. These are options used by many businesses to help grow employee engagement retention. Data and predictive analytics will play a large part in the future of workforce management. Business leaders need to focus on providing a deeply personalised experience within their organisation, and assess what their employees need from their employer to be engaged.
While data can certainly tell us a lot, it’s important not to forget we will always need the ‘human factor’. There always needs to be a degree of confidence when managing employees, which you can’t get from technology alone. However, we can still augment the human experience with data, giving us the best tools possible to manage our people. What will the future hold? A growth in data being used in a more predictive way to unlock human potential and improve employee engagement.