4 ways to drive employee engagement through digital

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The evolution of social technologies and the role of the HR executive have presented great opportunities for some and fear among others who cannot live up. My colleagues in talent management and HR are tasked with keeping top talent happy and engaged like never before, and the new kids on the social technology block, as well as employee choice, make the decision around approach and effectiveness more important than ever (ahem...1.8 million college graduates will be looking for work soon).

4 ways to drive employee engagement through digital

Taking a cue from the technology industry and digital platforms that are so intuitive they border on addictive, the latest software as a service (SaaS) platforms aimed at the HR market are catching on by focusing on the end user, the end user, the end user -- instead of using HR's traditional criteria and acceptance testing as the barometer for success.

At the same time, some of the best social technologies sold in through HR today are built on the understanding that meeting business needs is a top priority and that putting the data in the hands of the masses is critical for success. While providing real-time value and feedback (i.e. not having to pay super admin super bucks to understand the information) is a ticket to entry these days, it's easier said than done.

While talent management practices and their supporting technologies have started to lean into this practice, we haven't made it all the way over the hump. The way we recognize and engage our employees can, unfortunately, still look like it did 10 or even 20 years ago. This is one area that is in need of some attention.

We know that most companies have a recognition program in place. In fact, about 70 percent of companies that focus on employee recognition and rewards have three to six programs in place. This is a strong indication of a lack of integration, focus, and even more importantly a lack of impact on the employees who are the so-called recipients of this recognition.

How can you ensure that your company's employee recognition program is as engaging as you need it to be? Here, I've compiled a list of four ways you can make sure your program is a success for today's changing workplace:

Go digital with employee recognition

When recognizing your employees for work well done, don't just buy a stack of gift cards and hand out as needed. While the intentions behind this approach are in the right place, the impact it has on your workforce leaves much to be desired. Here's why:

  • When companies buy in bulk and hand out gifts as needed, employees interpret the gesture as generic and easy, lessening the meaning -- the expression of gratitude -- behind the effort.
  • This tactic inevitably leaves well-deserving employees out of the recognition loop. When the power to give recognition to your workforce lies with one or a few people, you may notice that only employees in highly visible roles regularly receive recognition.

That's why many companies are seeking ways to democratize their employee recognition systems by implementing digital systems. We live in an increasingly digital world -- the e-commerce business is expected to top $1.25 trillion (with a "T") this year -- and many of your employees are already well-versed in giving and receiving gifts, messages, and more online. In a workplace recognition program, taking a digital approach allows for personalization, faster turnaround, and streamlined administration for your HR department.