Getting to grips with employee engagement

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Predictions for the 21st century were potentially very generous it seems. Scrolling back to the 1930s, British economist, John Maynard Keynes, forecasted a luxurious life for the future workforce, seeing the working week drastically cut to 15 hours a week and people choosing to have more leisure as their material needs were satisfied. He was certain that mankind would have solved the world’s economic problems by now. So, it’s ironic that statistics show we are actually working more than double Keynes’s predicted hourly week and longer hours than we would have worked at the start of the Industrial Revolution.

At the same time, not only are we spending more time in the office, but there have been drastic changes in the nature of the workforce compared to what it once was. Picture a factory or office back in the 1970s for example, where employees were grouped together working side by side and a concept such as ‘employee engagement’ was far from anyone’s mind.

Fast forward a few decades, to a workforce that is offered flexible working hours, working from home, overseas travel and roles that require staff to work in disparate or remote locations. The question organisations are facing today is how do you bind this workforce together? How do employers create employee engagement within a fragmented work culture, and how can employers make all members of today’s workforce feel like they really belong?

The first steps in promoting engagement saw the introduction of the intranet in the 1990s, specifically designed as a private network for employees in the organisation, providing services, staff information, IT systems and the like that weren’t available to the public eye. However the intranet was passive, it relied on the individual constantly checking web pages and opening up the portal on their computers. Whereas now, we have a much more interactive culture of tech in place, with organisations implementing more artificial intelligence (AI) systems and machine learning which are easily accessible and help drive productivity and staff interaction. But despite all this, to really communicate with colleagues we need the human element that makes us feel engaged. Don’t we want to talk to an actual person? And have both human and technology combined? While new innovations might seem great, we can’t get swept up and let it override the key human factor.  According to predictions AI could soon have the capability to automate everything, including our jobs, the paradox of welcoming further technology that could in turn be detrimental for the workforce is something we can’t let happen.

The Turing Test, for example, was first created in the 1950s to see whether a machine alone can ‘think’ and demonstrate the intelligence similar to a human. Yet, still today nothing has passed the test, proving there is nothing that can replicate a human. If organisations want employees to feel involved and learn through machines and AI in their staffing strategies, they have to keep the crucial human touch for workers to want to engage with it, and this is our message at Workvine.

This is why we have tried to focus on a human friendly App, merging technology with the human element as a way of humanising corporate communication and making employees feel valued and engaged throughout. Many academic commentators have agreed with this combination. As Professor Leslie Willcocks in his book on Robots and The Future of Work, pointed out “All too many executives have chosen to displace workers, rather than think through how technology and humans can also work together symbiotically” he noted that employees will be complemented by robots and it’s true. If the workforce can embrace automation combined with the critical human element, it can only lead to future success.

About AHobbs

Chairman, Managing Director & Serial Entrepreneur, with 25 years recruitment expertise & experience in the UK Recruitment Sector focused primarily within the Logistics, Manufacturing and Service sectors.
Previously involved in 5 early stage business start ups during my career and engaged in 4 acquisitions and 3 successful exits. 

Workvine captures the spirit of 25 years of our experience Attracting, Recruiting,Engaging,Training & Retaining workforce talent.


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