Engaging Employees (Hint: It Means Keeping Up with Them)
Businesses rely on engaged employees – workers who are inspired and motivated, as well as emotionally invested in their work and company at large – for innovative ideas and overall success. Surveys find that companies with more engaged employees are 22 percent more profitable and their workers are 21 percent more productive. However, recent studies show only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, meaning that only a small minority of employees are motivated enough to drive the type of innovation every enterprise desperately needs.
Enterprises must convert the 87 percent of disengaged and actively disengaged employees into inspired workers. To achieve this goal, enterprise IT teams need to tap into the digital workplace by embracing consumer technology and enabling flexible collaboration to keep all employees – especially the growing millennial workforce – engaged and innovative.
The Digital Workplace
Traditional offices were designed under the assumption that everyone works in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and collaborates in the same way. This design flaw is finally catching up to enterprises as technological advances change the way we communicate and work. Driven partially by an influx of millennials, enterprises are increasingly accepting the idea that work is a thing you do, not a place you go, and everyone likes to work and collaborate in different ways. More frequently, employees are opting to leverage technology – with or without IT’s permission – to enable efficiency, productivity and engagement. This shift has transformed the workplace, making it increasingly more digital each day. Yet, welcoming the digital workplace entirely means incorporating trending consumer technology into office life, and consequently adapting to more flexible methods of workplace collaboration.
The Consumer Technology Takeover
Consumerization of IT has allowed end-users and consumers to drive technology changes in their organizations – enterprises, businesses, schools, etc. As consumers, employees are increasingly taking the applications and technology they leverage in their everyday lives and findings ways to adopt them throughout their work day.
Smartphones, social media and group instant messaging are notable consumer technology influencers in the workplace. IT departments have adapted to this trend and increased their flexibility to support traditionally consumer applications. Finding ways to bring the technology employees like to use outside of work into their work lives not only increases employee productivity and efficiency, but by allowing employees to work and communicate with technology platforms they believe better enable them to do their jobs, engagement also improved.
The most tangible example of the consumerization of workplace technologies lies in collaboration, and it is primarily driven by the millennial generation. Millennial behavior and work preferences have altered the expectations for technology at work – especially in the realm of remote collaboration. Many millennials prefer to communicate socially (e.g. instant message) rather than by email or voice call. In fact, 41 percent of millennials indicated they prefer using electronic communications methods — instant messages, texts, company intranet, etc. — over face-to-face meetings and even telephone calls. Moreover, they want flexible schedules and the ability to work where they want, and when they want.
Millennial consumers communicate with trendy apps and social media – think Snapchat, GroupMe, iMessage or Facebook messenger. So, it makes sense that they innately prefer to use similar methods of communication in the workplace. Enterprises hoping to keep employees engaged would be wise to keep a pulse on these collaboration preferences and make sure the technology they offer enables employees to work how they want, whether that be in the physical office space or on the go.
Embracing this level of consumerization and enabling employees to communicate and collaborate in a way that is not only natural, but also more fun for them, can help motivate employees and drive a greater level of engagement. Therefore, enterprise IT teams needs to adapt and provide the tools their workforce not only now demands, but prefers. In doing so, enterprises can increase employee engagement and inspire the level of motivation and innovation they need from workers to remain competitive and thrive.