Using digital tools to engage the modern workforce

Using digital tools to engage the modern workforce

Evolve or become obsolete. In a biological sense this is imperative to survival, but keeping ahead of the curve is becoming more-and-more applicable to businesses who haven’t yet adapted to the digital era.

The modern workforce is changing.

By next year millennials will account for the highest percentage of workers in the workforce, outstripping Gen X and the Boomers.

Yeah, and? You may be thinking.

This generation has grown up within the digital era. They’re technologically savvy, and approach working life with a vastly different attitude than their heads-down-bum-up predecessors.

Social media has bred a culture of collaboration and sharing. As such millennials have an inward focus, they don’t view themselves as a cog in your ever-turning machine; they want to know where they fit into the scheme of things and what growth potential your workplace can offer them. For them, work is about employability, flexibility and how they can continually upskill and enrich their personal experience.

A digital ecosystem will provide millennials with the collaborative, transparent work environment they seek.

But there’s more… not upgrading your technology infrastructure can actually lose you staff. According to Dell’s 2014 Evolving Workforce research, having the latest technology is important to 41% of employees in developed markets, 25% of employees claim that tech influences if they stay within a job.

Those are pretty compelling percentages.

If you want to attract prospective hires, as well as retain and engage your employees, you need to embrace these digital technologies. Otherwise you risk stagnation.

Still on the fence?

Don't worry, a technological upgrade is always a daunting prospect. Especially given the sheer wealth of technologies opening up countless options to engage the modern workforce.

Here we’ll explore some of the most popular employee engagement tools and how you can apply them in your business.

What are the benefits

The adoption of digital technologies is well underway. A recent digital transformation study conducted by IDG found that 80% of companies are making significant to moderate investments in mobile technology and 76% and 73% on analytics and cloud-based services, respectively. If you want to maintain your competitive edge, it’s time to get onboard.

Many businesses are finding that in addition to attracting and retaining employees, digital tools boost employee engagement and productivity by:

  • Consolidating hitherto fragmented software solutions
  • Creating more efficient workflows & processes
  • Fostering collaboration and transparency across departments
  • Reducing business time spent on training
  • Helping employees quickly find what they need  

These benefits are undeniably attractive for an organisation so let’s explore where you can start.

How to build the best digital environment

As touched upon, an ideal digital environment creates a culture of working openly, collaboratively and flexibly.

To get your ecosystem up to scratch keep an eye out for software that provides 24/7 easy-access to documentation, facilitates convenient communication and provides learning opportunities.

If in need of some inspiration turn to the likes of Google Drive or Box for storing, organising and editing your documents. These options will allow staff to access documents  from nearly any device, regardless of location. Your staff can work flexibly from nearly anywhere in the world (internet access permitting) without the annoying distraction of having to search for documents. In addition they provide revision history so staff can track any changes made to their work and gain insight from it.

Alternatively you could employ an intranet portal to make your documents searchable. A social intranet is a great way to foster employee engagement, build community and encourage knowledge sharing. Look for software that offers:

  • Bulletin boards and micro-blogging
  • News feeds (RSS)
  • Image and video sharing
  • Commenting and sharing functions
  • Voting and ratings
  • Team workspaces

To start look to Igloo, Confluence or Podio.

Employing task managers such as Trello, Asana and Basecamp are  also highly recommended. In addition to facilitating internal project organisation, they create a transparent workplace that breaks down boundaries. An employee can understand where they fit in the bigger picture and see what other employees are working on.

Finally we recommend implementing a team messaging app to encourage communication and collaboration. HipChat, Slack and Skype are great options that are extremely simple to use.

On a final note - you need to anticipate the needs and wants of all your employees (we can’t emphasise this enough). While upgrading your workplace is crucial for your growth, your older employees may feel a little bit hesitant towards a technological makeover. Afterall, they may not have such an intuitive understanding of new tech like millennials. For a digital environment to work effectively, and provide value to your organisation, everyone needs to get behind it.  Search for software that is easy-to-use, and provide training resources so they too can move forward with confidence.

CeBIT Australia SME Summary Report