Advanced technology has brought many benefits, both in and out of the workplace. It is widely acknowledged that an engaged employee is a happy one and that understanding what workers want and need will greatly improve their performance in the workplace.
This in turn increases productivity and enhances the customer experience; however, research continually points to a dissatisfied workforce in many sectors. This can be for a multitude of reasons, of course, which undoubtedly include low pay, lack of appreciation and reward, and bad management.
SAP SuccessFactors president Mike Ettling has suggested that technology also has its part to play in disengaging – and, ultimately, engaging – workers. Ettling believes the way in which we use technology in the workplace differs so much from how we use it at home that it is often a source of frustration for employees; however, if technology is adapted and used correctly, it could help both bosses and workers to engage more positively.
He cites the example of how employees are often swamped with meaningless emails and other information sent to everyone, regardless of whether it is important to them and when it is perfectly possible for technology to make sure workers only receive the information they want and need.
The way in which workers learn and develop is by getting the correct training they need as and when they require it, which could also be directed through modern technology. Companies could monitor their employees’ performance on a regular basis and assess their training needs accordingly, ensuring everyone gets timely intervention rather than floundering and not knowing where to go for information.
Information could also be gathered to ensure workers know who they need to speak to or otherwise contact when encountering a problem or requiring a specific action to be carried out. Informal networks could be developed to smooth the way for work to be completed in an efficient manner.
When considering any sort of technological intervention, employers must first consider the potential problems they may introduce, such as potential breaches of privacy laws, the possibility of misinterpretation of the data gathered and the potential serious implications for the worker, and the issue of integrity and trust. Workers need to be sure they are being monitored for their own good, not so that the company can spy on them.
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