In any small business, employees are the most critical component of the company. But at times, getting employees to embrace new technology may seem impossible.
Employees create your products or provide your services, interact with current clients and find new ones, and are often the face of your company with key suppliers and regulators as well.
While hiring the right people and training them are critical tasks for managers, keeping your employees engaged over time is equally important. Engaged employees who operate with a sense of purpose and vested interest in the company, are essential to your company’s success.
However, a recent Gallup poll found that a staggering 70 percent of the American workforce is not engaged at work. Undoubtedly, this lack of engagement leads to poor performance, and ultimately hurts companies’ bottom lines. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be that way.
Technology offers managers many innovative tools that can increase employee engagement, and improve your company’s fortunes today.
Update Your Computers and Network
One surefire way to ensure your employees aren’t engaged is to equip them with slow, outmoded information technology. No one wants to sit in an office and use an old model desktop computer that lags behind the system they have at home.
There are few things that crush morale worse than old desktops and networks that cannot handle current software and data transmission, and are slow (or frequently crash) as a result.
The cognitive drift your workers experience while waiting for a large file to download, or while sitting idle at their desks as their old desktops reboot yet again, will almost certainly decrease their level of engagement.
It is worth the money and effort to invest in good information technology, and build fast networks that can handle the data transfer rate your company requires; updating them on a regular basis is important as well.
Equipping your workforce with current mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, can also foster greater engagement as well. If your data systems operate at the same speed as your employees, they will almost certainly stay more engaged and productive.
Provide Innovative Collaboration Tools
There are a plethora of collaborative tools available to businesses today. While they are designed to increase productivity, they can also increase employee engagement as well.
Software and applications that enable your employees to communicate from a distance, share information or ideas, and work together remotely on a project as a virtual team will also help foster a shared sense of mission among your employees, and can increase their level of engagement.
Virtual office spaces, like Slack, are great tools that can provide a venue for employees to stay engaged and contribute to team projects wherever they are.
Collaborative presentation software like Prezi can help employees stay focused on teamwork while remotely building complex presentations. File sharing applications, such as Dropbox, can enable employees to share important files even when they are away from the rest of the team, and increase their connection to the mission.
Additionally, enterprises whose focus involves education or knowledge management can use wikis to facilitate greater collaboration amongst employees, and provide a venue for them to contribute their knowledge and experience more effectively.
Enhance Social Engagement
Employees will remain more engaged at work if they do not feel isolated. Companies should provide technological tools that help employees communicate with one another. Let your employees stay better connected to the outside world.
Your computer network should include an online chat tool that enables employees to easily communicate while pinned down at their desks. This enables colleagues to stay connected with one another instantly, even as they continue to do their work.
Chat tools can also increase office productivity as well. You should also consider policies that allow your workers access to their social media and personal email accounts.
In the recent past, it was standard practice for many companies to limit access to social media. Some companies even blocked them outright. Now however, many companies are reconsidering.
Access to personal social media accounts can help decrease stress at work, and often helps employees stay more engaged. Moreover, a recent study indicated that employees who had access to these accounts at work were more productive. They were also found to higher levels of job satisfaction.
Clear policies may need to be established to assure employees do not become overly distracted or abuse the privilege. Access to social media accounts may be a counterintuitive, low-cost way to keep your employees engaged and productive.
Recognize a Job Well Done
Employee recognition for a positive performance is one of the most powerful incentives managers have to offer. Rewarding employees for a job well done can increase their engagement levels substantially.
There are many high tech tools that can help companies track employee performance. This will enable management to instantly recognize positive behavior.
Globoforce, for example, is innovative software that can help managers track employee contributions. They help effectively recognize and reward positive actions. We need it easily managed, and highly effective at keeping your employees engaged.
One of the best ways to help your employees stay engaged is to invest in them. Allow them to attend training courses or schools.
However, budgets and deadlines often limit opportunities for key employees to be away from the office.
Fortunately, technology offers effective alternatives. Online training and education has improved dramatically over the past decade or so. Virtual training enables your employees to increase their knowledge, skills, and marketability, and can help maintain their level of engagement.
Access to online courses also allows your employees to train in their spare time, at home. As emerging technology like virtual reality becomes more sophisticated, it will almost certainly increase the effectiveness of online training, and provide greater opportunities for your employees.
Keeping your workforce engaged is one of the most essential and challenging aspects of management. Leveraging technology can be an effective tool for managers to keep workers more productive, happier and more engaged.