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Hot topics like big data, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and machine learning aren’t merely buzzwords. They’re factors contributing to a profound change in the business landscape and, consequently, the way small- to medium-sized businesses operate within that landscape.
While many businesses have focused on these changes externally to position their brands, focusing on how these trends can be leveraged internally can help businesses tackle a different opportunity when it comes to employee engagement. Sites that publish salaries and reviews have flattened the compensation market.
Leveraging some of the same advantages technology has enabled with your external sales and marketing can translate nicely into building engagement with your employees by introducing a “digital culture.”
Introducing a Digital Culture Is Not a Light Switch
There are three main reasons why some companies find it difficult to leverage more digital technology within their organizations. First, “new and improved” to some people can feel like “change and work” to others. Some employees are simply set in their ways. Putting tools like document management systems or portals in place to automate or simplify common tasks takes time. Lastly, technology creates exposure. Digital innovations create more transparency, and that poses challenges within an organization. This can create feelings of competition in some, as there will be early adopters heavily participating compared to others who are great performers but aren’t as comfortable with the transparency.
All three challenges mean one thing: To successfully integrate new technologies into your workplace, employee engagement must become a priority.
Grabbing Engagement With Digital
Here are a few considerations for successfully integrating digital into your culture:
1. Look at what works outside of your business, and apply that inward.
Currently, Americans spend nearly 20 percent of their time online on social media channels. We’re being mechanically trained to process information in the form of images, feeds and channels — and in many cases, the content we consume is targeted specifically to us.
SharePoint is not Facebook but you can imitate live feeds by integrating a document management system with your internal messaging tools.
2. Involve your organization in the process.
Process innovation depends on your employees. Ask different teams at all levels about their jobs, what could be better, and what interests them.
Your deployment should feel like an answer to their needs, not an initiative being forced on them.
When digital technology doesn’t contain employee-centric components, it can feel like just one more thing the company is doing to get more work out of employees.
3. Clearly communicate your “why.”
It’s not enough to tell your employees they have to start using a new tool simply because everyone else is. Communicate the business objectives that come along with that adoption. These can include:
- Consistency. Increased internal digital communication is helpful in maintaining consistency of voice across your organization’s collateral and sales materials.
- Collaboration. More digital interaction naturally leads to more collaboration. Sharing becomes a part of the job, so seeking and getting feedback no longer requires scheduled meetings. It can be done ad hoc through instant messaging tools.
- Quality. A byproduct of increased collaboration is higher-quality work. This isn’t just a boon for your external brand; it can also have a major positive impact on employees’ job satisfaction.
- Talent. Increased brand loyalty and overall engagement within the company will help you not only keep your best talent, but also attract more.
If you believe that a key to growing your business is your ability to retain and attract the best talent, you need to be building your brand and loyalty inward. Employee engagement isn’t a new concept; however, introducing a digital culture to achieve it might be. It also works.