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Employee engagement, especially among millennials and Gen Z, is at its lowest point in the last decade, according to a recent poll from Gallup, and companies need to find HR solutions to refresh them, or face lower retention, productivity, and profitability. .
Two of the main contributors to decreased employee engagement are a lack of opportunities to learn and grow, and a lack of caring at work, according to Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace management and wellbeing at Gallup.
Harter says career development and upskilling can help revive the workforce. But what would a workforce with multiple voices, multiple post-Covid work environments, and even multigenerational priorities in the workplace look like?
Workers want HR resources at their fingertips
Few solutions for lagging engagement can amplify employees’ voices, support their career growth, and evolve internal HR practices to be digital-first, said Mike Morini, CEO of WorkForce Software, a management software company that offers digital HR capabilities and workforce analytics.
“Typically, companies spend less than 1% of their technology budget on deskless workers,” says Morini. “They’re not invested in finding ways to engage with their employees, how to collaborate with them, or how to make sure they’re highly aware.”
Whether it’s finding recent pay cuts, viewing weekly schedules, or looking up what kinds of benefits your company has to offer you, workers want all of these HR resources easily accessible on their phones, says Morini.
Morini shares the story of a colleague’s teenage daughter who had the choice of working in a grocery store or in a trendy retail store. Morini says he chose the grocery store solely based on the grocery store offering everything he needed — scheduling, pay stubs, shift changes — on the app, while the retail store didn’t.
“If you don’t modernize and provide employees with digital tools so they can see HR resources, you’re going to lose talent,” says Morini. “Companies now need to scale up and invest in that technology, so they can better communicate and collaborate with their employees on an experience on their mobile.”
Digital-first offerings can also give employees better visibility into how a company is driving business strategy and practices, says Morini, especially in a world where everyone is working from a different place.
HR digital transformation is a two-way street, says Morini. Not only will employees feel more engaged and concerned, but companies will also be able to obtain in-depth data about their employees so that managers and HR professionals can take appropriate actions to address HR issues.
Morini said offering employees more visibility into scheduling and compliance used to be an added benefit, but now with digital tools they have become a strategic priority for employees and the company.
“With compliance becoming an overarching issue, companies are looking to: Do employees have the flexibility they want? Are they getting the communication they want so they feel valued?” said Morini. “Ensuring managers are informed about this type of data gives them an opportunity to take good action to better engage their employees.”
Harter says 70% of the variance in engagement can be explained by managing quality, so upskilling managers is key.
Managers becoming better coaches involve teaching them science-based insights about how to increase employee engagement, how to leverage their strengths and the strengths of their team members, and directing their coaching toward performance management, adds Harter.
Employees want career growth
The majority of workers, especially among Gen Z, not only want to feel valued but also want opportunities for upward mobility and continuous learning at their companies.
“Learning is one of the key elements on the foundation of a healthy employer-employee relationship,” said Dimitris Tsingos, co-founder and president of Epignosis, a learning management platform.
It used to be that employees did their job and received compensation, but Tsingos says that’s not enough for today’s employees. He said forward-thinking companies also invest in the personal development of their employees at all levels.
With so many digital HR tools available, Tsingos and Morini agree that companies need to provide employees with access to continuing career learning and training.
“If a worker has already changed shifts on an app, say they are trying to switch shifts with a colleague and they are not sufficiently trained, we can highlight that if you have this certification or training you will be eligible to do this shift,” said Mori. “It can also energize workers by saying ‘Oh, by the way, that’s 15% more pay’ or ‘Oh, by the way, you can take this training online, right here on your phone.'”
It gives employees the tools to continually learn and gives them the opportunity to be a go-getter, says Morini, and it opens the way for them to get ahead.
“You’ll see the right level of engagement when employees see your empathy for their work-life balance and you’re showing them the path to career growth if they take these steps,” says Morini. “You will then have an informed and passionate employee base.”