Employee engagement trends transform as the generations change in the workforce. Consequently, the tools or solutions to engage and retain employees and measure and enhance their engagement levels are also changing. As per some of the recent research reports, a set of four generations constitute the workforce in today’s highly competitive and digitized times:
- The old-school Baby Boomers and Gen X believe in hard work and loyalty towards their employers. They consider face-to-face conversations as the most efficient way of communication. They focus on their job roles and remain committed to their companies if given the right growth opportunities.
- Gen Y or Millennials, the current workforce, harness the technological developments coming their way. They prioritize a sense of belonging and compassion in their organization. They want to feel recognized and valued and strengthen relations with their employers and co-workers. Moreover, they show interest in exploring new digital engagement tools alongside their senior leaders.
- As per a study by Dell Technologies, Gen Z is excited about technology’s role in future organizational systems and processes. They aspire to work with cutting-edge technology. They look forward to how digital technology could prospectively revolutionize how employees work and how employers engage with them. When equipped with advanced technological tools, they tend to show high engagement and involvement in their jobs.
Before diving deep into the new-age employee engagement tools for Gen Y and Gen Z, let us revisit the long-established practices followed in organizations.
Traditional Employee Engagement Practices
- Two-Way Communication
Organizations develop an open and engaging work culture where communication flows freely across hierarchies. Conventional physical meetings and emails are now behind the times. Organizations are thus exploring new avenues to connect, engage, and retain their workforce.
- Employee Recognition Programs
Recognizing and rewarding employees’ performance and accomplishments is the standard approach to enhance engagement. But the traditional annual appraisal platform does not blend well with Gen Y’s progressive thinking, as they want continuous feedback and recognition of their work.
- Learning and Development
The organizational setup has a specialized training department that designs programs to impart quality employee training and boost engagement. As per an article published in Training Journal, traditional practices mainly emphasize stringent, less cost-efficient, and time-consuming classroom training and hence, don’t go well with the fast-paced Millennials of today.
With swift technological advancements and a progressive outlook of the new-age generation, the above traditional engagement practices are getting replaced by innovative employee engagement tools. The subsequent sections bring to light the modern techniques to engage employees.
Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – The New-Age Employee Engagement Tools
New-age digital tools have simplified and organized measuring employee engagement. As per a Forbes report, organizations invest in innovative and customized ML and AI-driven software to engage their workforce and evaluate their engagement level.
ML and AI tools are modern technologies with a futuristic approach. They use algorithms, analytics, and coding programs to solve intricate problems identical to human logic and reasoning. As for human resource management, it streamlines communication, performance management, evaluation, and recognition functionalities. As per a Statista report, AI has the potential to maximize employee productivity by more than 30% in the next 15 years.
Microsoft, Amazon, Walmart, Barclays, Apple, among others in the corporate world, are successfully using ML and AI technologies for measuring and enhancing employee engagement. According to a Forbes report, nearly 31% of companies have made AI their first choice, and 58% have put it in their top-three preferences.
AI-powered tools monitor employees’ performance on a real-time basis and highlight improvement areas. They use techniques like sentiment analysis and natural language processing of the text conversations to discern their feelings and mood at work. It can even foretell future performance based on behavior patterns, facial gestures, and body language and provide insights to managers on work allocation. AI tools also examine biometric data like fingerprints and eye scans to analyze employee experience and measure employee engagement.
Google records all employee interactions on AI software and analyzes the data to assess their satisfaction levels. Likewise, IBM uses AI tools to study employees’ verbal and written communication and facial expressions at the workplace to analyze their behavior and predict future performance.
Let us now understand the practical applications of ML and AI tools in modern organizations:
- Employee Onboarding Experience
As per a Forbes report, AI tools can enhance the employee onboarding experience with an organization. The progression from a process-driven to automated, experience-driven recruitment approach influences candidates to join organizations. The conversational AI and ML tools such as chatbots provide personal assistance and resolve their queries on job responsibilities, work timings, location, payroll, or other HR policies. The facial expressions and speech recognition tools help the hiring managers screen the candidate’s emotional, cognitive, and other personality traits. It also helps the prospective employees for cultural fit. The ML-driven automated background checks ensure that the right employees get matched with the right roles in the organization.
- Online Communication Tools
New-age employee engagement tools offer innovative AI-powered software to maintain effective internal workplace communication and connect in real-time with remote employees. AI chatbots facilitate online communication with employees to disseminate relevant information in the office and catalyze one-to-one conversations between employees. Employees engage productively in a work environment that keeps them hands-on with organizational affairs and interact more frequently with each other using AI-driven digital tools.
The AI technology enables asynchronous meetings using new-age communication tools such as video and voice recordings and text (e-mail threads and shared online documents). It facilitates asynchronous, two-way conversations and post-meeting collaborations with the remote workforce in diverse locations with different time zones. It performs semantic analysis of the discussions of the asynchronous meeting and tracks the critical points with the transcriptions and action items. This functionality helps employees ask questions on these discussions, give feedback, remain up to speed, and follow them to closure.
- Automated Employee Engagement Surveys
Today’s Millennial workforce believes in continuous and real-time feedback and sustainable interconnections. Unlike the annual performance review platform, conducting regular pulse surveys using ML and AI technology makes them feel valued, recognized, and emotionally invested in the organization. Organizations are now deploying these tools to create customized feedback forms to assess employee engagement levels per their requirements. They get quantified poll results for comparative analysis and suggestions for informed future decision-making on employee engagement.
- Employee Performance Evaluation and Recognition Tools
Unlike traditional annual assessments, ultra-modern AI software comes with the functionalities of doing automated employee reviews. The automated tools, such as a performance journal, use a 360-degree appraisal process to evaluate holistic employee performance all year round. The ratings given by peers, subordinates, managers and customers provide quantitative performance data. AI-driven performance journals collate all the feedback in one place, generate comprehensive performance reports, and share them with the related department heads, leaders, and stakeholders on a real-time basis. It integrates with other HR tools, such as training, to prepare a continuous employee career development plan. Thus, AI and ML tools facilitate seamless information collection, real-time analysis, and continuous performance assessments. The automated employee productivity scores help businesses make informed, data-driven decisions for future employee and organizational growth.
AI-driven performance management tools align value-based recognition with a robust reward system based on the points earned in performance reviews. The dynamic recognition tool gives real-time feedback that keeps the employee motivated, boosts their engagement levels, and helps build an influencing employer brand.
- Mobile and E-Learning
Online or digital learning is the new fad of today’s fast-paced generation who strive for flexible techniques to learn anytime, anywhere, and at their pace. Organizations are thus investing in AI-powered data analytics to design customized training programs with electronic content that employees can access at a time and place convenient to them. It increases employees’ productivity, makes them more committed and dedicated to their work, and thus enhances their engagement levels.
- Company Alumni Portals
AI and ML tools can augment the company alumni portals to enhance employee experience even after leaving the organization. The technologically advanced tools design data-focused and efficient exit interviews. It provides a digital platform for employees to share or express their working experiences with the organization. The gathered employee feedback gets published on alumni portals to give them a delightful exit experience. The AI-enabled alumni platform facilitates organizations to engage with their former employees and maintain a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship with them.
Thus, ML and AI-driven digital employee engagement solutions are the new trends among Millennials, the core of today’s workforce. These measures increase employee productivity, promote communication, develop collaborative work culture, and ultimately boost employee engagement and commitment.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.