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In 2019, Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain predicted that the 2020’s would be a “culture-first” decade, during which leaders will make employee engagement a core business focus.

But how can a culture-first organisation really be achieved?

The rules of engagement are changing – daily. Instead of looking for the answer in a single technology or corporate philosophy change, try to look at it through a simple equation:   Fun x Convenience x Insights x Caring = Employee satisfaction

It works in our personal lives; our smartphones provide us the ability to access games and social content that brings the fun to fingertips. The convenience of having information presented to us when we need it based on the analytical insights of our search and fluently accessed data history is essential to driving our satisfaction. When you blend these elements with the peer-to-peer assistance and caring aspect of social apps and communities, then place them in a workplace model, you get amazingly engaged employees.

Now, substitute fun with gamification, convenience with bots, insights with machine learning and caring with human intellect. Companies can use this equation to achieve the following five outcomes.

1. Understand the financial benefits of engaging employees just as you do customers.
There is a direct correlation between employee and customer satisfaction. We have found placing an intensive emphasis on adding fun, challenges and competition at every level within the business to achieve the desired business metrics we were looking to improve, resulted in a net promotor score rating of 77.  We monitored and measured results and used insight to present employees with leaderboards, badges, points, rewards and most importantly recognition of what they had achieved.

2. Transform traditional cost centres such as training and employee development, into revenue centres through the balance of technology and humanity.
To accomplish this outcome, cost centres need to better understand the business drivers and speak the language of operations – and the business.  For one client we transitioned the learning team away from training platforms to using the same technologies within the business so they could manage their workforce, capacity planning, metrics, etc. with the same rigour and process as the business. This model provided valuable insights into the way they ran their team versus the rest of the organisation. Within six months, they were aligned and contributing two percent to the top-line growth and reducing bottom-line expenses by three percent.

3. Use existing customer-focused investments to drive fiscal benefits among employees.
Use and share best practice of your customer-facing initiatives to incentivise positive behaviour change throughout the organisation. Instead of surveying employees and focus groups, move to a collaborative social community where employees can openly share their thoughts and ideas freely, working with others across silos, and break the hierarchical change.  Our employees have set up virtual book clubs and created video blogs of their personal lives so show their human side, then blended these activities with fiscal and business updates.  One of the many results was an innovations lab that made the client significant savings in briefings and training. 

4. Blend technology learning with human learning to create a checks-and-balances process that maximises quality.
Technology by itself is just technology.  But blended with employees to quality-check the bot and machine learning findings for human comprehension and idiosyncrasies can fine tune the artificial intelligence data to achieve much greater accuracy. The tag-teaming of bots and humans is essential, especially when balancing cultural and regional nuances.

5. Incentivise employees to share knowledge, best practices and operational suggestions that drive automation and business improvements.
Introduce a social intranet. Conduct an organisational network analysis, identifying the right influencers and integrate with your employee recognition programme, include everything from anniversary notifications to certification announcements into the community.

While there is no one answer to making employee engagement a core business focus there are ways to ensure you have high-performing and engaged employees. The gamification x bots x machine learning x human intellect equation is a powerful one that works for many of today’s employees.

As we are complex humans, and organisations are getting more and more complex through globalisation and acquisitions, this equation will continue to evolve.

Joanne-Regan Iles, Executive HR Director EMEA – TTEC

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