Way back in 2015, we knew that 2020 is going to be a landmark year— gateway to the future with artificial intelligence (AI) and data sciences transforming the business world. A November 2018 research by Gartner predicted that by 2020, 80 percent organizations would rely more on modern tools and technology to amass engagement data, and that traditional methods of survey would be history. However, taking stock of the situation after six months—the reality appears encouraging!
Stumped by the COVID-19 pandemic, the business world has shifted gears to speed up digitalization—the golden ticket to stay connected with employees. Employees are the true heroes of the business world who refuse to let business go down by staying resilient and working tirelessly. Recognizing their grit and support, today’s leaders are more determined to design better experiences for their workforce, using statistical methods, machine learning technology, and artificial intelligence applications.
Employee engagement, an essential factor for business success, has not witnessed a dynamic growth over the last five years. A global study by ADP, published in 2019, on employee engagement, reveals that, “Only about 16 percent of employees are ‘fully engaged’, and this number has not changed much since our study in 2015. This means, 84 percent of workers are just ‘coming to work’ instead of contributing all they could to their organizations.”
Delving further into the grim employee engagement situation since 2015, we realize that the engagement practice based on annual surveys linked to employee feedback has failed to help HR create a robust strategy to keep employees engaged.
The Gartner study on traditional survey methods reveals, “Formal surveys are far from extinct, but they are clearly on the decline. Gartner expected 59 percent of organizations to use engagement data from sources other than formal surveys in 2019, up from just 30 percent in 2015 and in 2020, the anticipation is that it will touch 80 percent!”
Why are traditional surveys a misfit today?
Traditional survey methods lack a holistic, integrated, and real-time approach to measuring an employee’s emotional investment in an organization. In other words, they do not cover all aspects of employees’ life at work and ignore their life outside work. The traditional surveys lack real-time analysis and synthesis. Therefore, by the time a report is released, many equations between people and businesses change, which diminishes the relevance of the survey result making it difficult for HR to implement changes. Furthermore, limitations in the design and execution of traditional surveys act as a hurdle in addressing all employee issues, thus displaying an incomplete picture of employees’ emotions, moods and attitudes.
New tools and approaches
Mainstream technologies, such as AI, data sciences and algorithms, have taken a big leap from being just a trending topic at round-table discussions since 2015, to actually transforming HR and improving its capabilities of tackling employee productivity, retention, and happiness of the workforce. Smart tools enabled by AI provide HR with great insights in the form of data in real time. The powerful metrics help HR to implement the findings of the survey instantly and boost employee confidence.
New tools and approaches include rapid pulse surveys that allow employees to express themselves openly in their own words in day-to day working. The pulse-based surveys, unlike traditional survey methods, are backed by science, such as sentiment analysis that enables HR to know what is going on inside the minds of the workforce.
Interestingly, pulse-based surveys that have artificial intelligence and machine learning at the back end are able to convert employee responses—volume of written content — into great insights that accurately predict employees’ sentiments in real time, with the help of natural language processing and semantic analysis.
Empowered with such insights, HR and business managers are able to identify the disengaged employees and be warned about the ones who are sitting on the fence. Additionally, they are able to recognise the true influencers within the organization. Armed with such valuable data on employees, they are better equipped to retrospect on employees’ reactions to recent policies and events, and also design future practices keeping an eye on employees’ emotions.
A recent study by Gallup further strengthens the importance of engaged employees. The study says, “Engaged employees make it a point to show up to work and do more work — highly engaged business units realize a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 17 percent increase in productivity. Engaged workers are also more likely to stay with their employers.”
Coming back to the point, the year 2020 has been encouraging with employees under the spotlight and organizations looking at innovative ways to engage them. Companies are rethinking their engagement practices, and digitalization is an appealing solution for many who wish to broaden their horizons and emerge from the limitations of traditional surveys, which fall drastically short when it comes to reading the true pulse of the employees.