Employee engagement is a fascinating field. Why? The basic principle is that an engaged employee is significantly more energetic in how they work.
They also make sure they understand and then individually contribute to your goals, and create innovative goals of their own; they are more productive and much more likely to stay with you.
So could there be a direct correlation between embedding a culture of collaboration in your organisation and the engagement levels of your staff?
I recently asked my team to go and find that correlation. It's a work in progress, but we are seeing compelling results from the research we are doing with customers so far.
Of equal significance is a growing demand from other customers for specific assistance with ensuring they can better connect and engage their staff, particularly the growing percentage of millennials in the workforce, through ensuring the latest technology and tools are available.
There's already a slight correlation that we see emerging, without even trying that hard.
Millennials seem to be less interested in the traditional perks and more interested in filtering potential employers through a rigorous analysis.
They want to know about the work culture and how you see that changing over the next 12 months (forget 12 years). Do you have a modern and energetic workplace? What tools are they being provided with? Do they work everywhere? Can they use their own device if they want to? Oh, and surely you have the policies and management style to allow them to work out of the office whenever it suits them, right?
It might, from a traditional management perspective, appear to be an array of precocious requests. It is, in fact, the 'norm'.
It's not just millennials who associate a flexible and engaging work-style with that 'norm'. Broader workplace diversity and equality needs to be taken into account. These are all growing imperatives that are challenging the status quo of the workplace.
Can a properly embedded collaboration solution increase employee engagement? I think the answer is yes, but you'll note the key words in the question are 'properly embedded'.
It comes down to usage and adoption. In other words you can have the best collaboration solution; borderless network; and devices in the world to offer this new breed of engaged employee.
However be aware of the assumption that just providing 'the best' is enough.
For one customer that we worked with to ascertain if their approach to deploying collaboration tools was successful, we found out the answer was a resolutely no.
They had decided to choose the best products on the market for certain collaboration scenarios. They deployed everything from unified communications, through to mobility, content collaboration and enterprise social media. They had many thousands of staff spanning millennials through to a broad cohort of longer term employees, and the number one communications challenge they faced was over-use of email (sound familiar?).
Our workshop and analysis process uncovered a disappointing picture. Email remained, by far, the most useful tool (in the eyes of staff) for everything from working on a document as a group; through to sharing ideas; finding skills; and gaining help. They had only deployed the technology, and missed the cultural change aspect.
Collaboration environments, properly embedded, can have a positive impact on employee engagement. Stay tuned for more on that direct correlation over the next few posts.
For more information on collaboration go to Telstra Exchange.