Employee engagement has had quite a run in the spotlight and many organizations are intent on cracking the code to develop and sustain high levels of engagement that, in turn, drive other business performance outcomes.
Research suggests a direct connection between engaged employees and a variety of performance outcomes, including productivity, profitability, reduced turnover, and customer experience. Yet, sites like Gallup continue to report that only one-third of the global workforce is engaged at work.
There are multiple theories as to why employees may disengage with their employers, but my recent conversation with Mike Ettling, president of SAP SuccessFactors, shed light on a technological factor that I hadn’t previously considered.
I thought I’d struck pay dirt when I landed my first internship in college. I was interning in the Human Resources department of a trucking company and I felt like I’d finally arrived.
My responsibilities included sitting alone in an office all day, screening resumes for truck drivers and forklift operators, conducting phone screenings, and setting up in-person interviews if candidates met certain criteria. Spending countless hours alone in a room with stacks of applications, a computer, and a telephone made me appreciate the effort it takes to find the right talent to move an organization forward.
Looking back twenty years later, it’s astonishing how things have changed and how—in some ways—they’ve stayed the same. Technology has evolved through several evolutions over the last two decades, and those paper job applications are a thing of the past.
The “war for talent” has been raging for years. Companies are doing whatever they can to attract and retain the highest caliber workforce possible in our fast-moving and hypercompetitive business environment.
But some leaders in the talent space, like Mike Ettling, president of SAP SuccessFactors, don’t buy into the “war for talent” narrative, suggesting that we have created this pervasive belief through the influence of our own biases.
In our quickly expanding, technologically reliant world, uncertainty and interdependence are far more common now than, say, 30 years ago. This rapid change has given way to agile organization structures, functioning in more democratic or flat ways. Frameworks (i.e. Scrum, XP, Lean) have aided these sort of initiatives, and the need for them has become increasingly more relevant.
We all talk, but do we really say much? Perhaps it’s that conversation by the water cooler, the whispering of the coworker across the cube, or better yet, the post on social media that tells more about your company than the values uttered every week during team meetings.
Today, digital innovation influences every aspect of our workplace, and more recently, many tech startups are setting their sights on the advancement of human resources.
“Ask any industry veteran and they’ll tell you that human resources is notoriously slow,” says Vip Sandhir, CEO of one such company, Highground. “It’s almost synonymous with red tape, approvals, and the like. It’s quite the juxtaposition with the tech world, that moves at a near mach-5 speed.
“The relationship with HR and tech is important because they’re helping each other reach a middle-ground of proactivity and reactivity,” he continues. “HR tech start-ups are the ones pushing us all forward to help solve organizational challenges, better engage their employees, and improve business outcomes.”
Most organizations still regard Millennials as somehow different than their Gen X or Boomer co-workers, but do these assumed differences really hold any weight in the workplace? Or are these stereotypes merely a byproduct of a business environment that looks starkly different than it did 20 years ago?
A surprising study from IBM sheds some light on the truth: Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers all share very similar opinions of the workplace.
I saw the impact of unethical behavior firsthand when I grew up in Moscow during the late 80’s and early 90’s. As a result of the establishment of the Russian Federation, private businesses were created. And during the transition, economic inequality, increased corruption, scandals, and bribery became the new norm.
I moved to the U.S. in 2006 for my own freedom and an opportunity to have more than two pairs of jeans in my wardrobe, and I immediately recognized differences both in geography and culture.
Imagine coming out of a meeting and thinking about how honestly people shared their opinions, how disagreements were met with understanding, and how you took a few tough nuggets and differing perspectives and heard everyone. What was happening was real dialogue — the kind of conversation where raw opinions can be out there and no one is judging anyone.
I can already hear you: “Not in my organization,” you say. Not in the kind of hyper-structured/way-too-polite/distrustful kind of place I work.