5 Ways to Use Technology to Improve Employee Engagement, Collaboration and Retention

In today’s workplace, technological innovation is key to retaining your best talent. From telecommuting, to growth and career development, to improved communication and collaboration, and beyond, there are myriad ways you can keep your employees happy and productive.

Steve Jobs said: “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”

Companies work hard to build the right teams. Unfortunately, they don’t always pay as much attention to engaging and retaining employees as they should. You must maintain your teams too.

If all your effort is going into finding the right people and not keeping them, then you are spending more resources on hiring, onboarding, and training workers than you should be.

In today’s workplace, innovation is key to retaining your best talent.

1. Telecommuting and flexibility

Not all work has to be done at the office or in the workplace. Many tasks can be handled from home or from a remote location. The benefit to the company is that it gives you access to a greater pool of talent because you can tap into a global workforce. The benefit to the worker is that they can complete the work on their own time.

Technology makes it easy for your team members to work from home, to access the files they need, and check the status of their assignments. Scheduling tools also allow you to offer your team members more flexibility, as you keep an eye on tasks completed and who needs to be at work on any given day.

Even with remote workers, however, it’s important to encourage more collaboration. People need to feel connected, and just because some of your employees aren’t in the office doesn’t mean you can ignore them and let them do whatever they want. You must plan to connect with them regularly.

Cloud-based storage tools like Dropbox make it easy for you to share files and access them from anywhere. Google Drive allows team members to collaborate on documents in real-time, even if they aren’t in the same office.

Collaboration builds unity between your employees and encourages teamwork within your organization. When your team members can depend on each other, they’ll feel more connected, and be more fulfilled in their responsibilities.

2. Growth and career development

Per Express Employment Professionals, 40% of companies said lack of advancement or opportunity was the top hurdle that caused employees to leave their job.

Today’s employees want to keep growing. They don’t want to remain in a dead-end job. If you aren’t putting eLearning initiatives in place and making digital libraries and courses available to your team members, they may not feel like they can grow to their full potential.

Giving your workers the chance to learn and grow shows you care about them. Naturally, you also need to lay out clear career paths for them, or you’re just giving them a false sense of advancing. But it all begins with giving your employees the opportunity to educate themselves.

3. Improved communication

Despite advancements in communication, some companies still rely on email. Not that email is a bad way to communicate, but sometimes workers find they can’t get out of their inbox because of constant company updates, correspondence they’re being looped into, or new tasks they’re being assigned. Unless your team members are particularly organized, some communication is going to fall through the cracks.

Taking advantage of project management systems like Basecamp or internal chat apps like Slack make it easier for you and your team members to stay updated with progress on projects and internal events. These platforms are also searchable, meaning managers don’t have to repeat themselves over and over, and employees can simply search for information related to the project they’re looking to complete.

Per CareerBuilder, 55% of employees felt cell phones and texting were the biggest productivity killers, and 26% named email. Better communication leads to increased productivity, which can also tie in with employee retention.

4. Reduced stress

There are many reasons why people feel stressed in the workplace—too much work to do, uncertainty about the security of their job role, a lack of direction or guidance, and so on.

Technology and innovation can solve many problems, from making onboarding and training more efficient, to sending automated reminders for deadlines and next steps that must be taken in a specific project.

Too many tools and apps can stress people out, and a heavy reliance on them can make your workplace a cold environment. But the right tools can help your team members gain clarity on what they need to do, track with changes in the organization, and streamline or share in their workloads. Less stress means your team members are more productive over the long haul. This builds their confidence and encourages them to stay loyal to your company.

5. Technology use

There may be a good reason why you use older tools and technology within your business. Unfortunately, this may affect how you’re perceived by your workers. If you embrace innovation, your workers will feel like you’re a forward-thinking company, but if you are lagging, they may write you off as an organization unwilling to embrace change and the latest trends.

More and more workers are preferring to do their work on their own mobile devices—smartphones, tablets, and so on. With the use of intranet, project management systems and cloud storage, it’s easy to give your team members access to the right tools and resources to complete their projects and assignments from virtually anywhere.

Technology can also be used to encourage a healthier workforce. Some companies encourage their employees to stay healthy by purchasing Fitbit devices for them. Today, anyone can install a pedometer app on their smartphone and track their steps and calories burned throughout the day.

The point is to encourage health and wellness within your company. Healthy people are happier and more productive. The latest technology helps people sleep better, track the results of their exercise programs, keep their meditation sessions focused, and so on.

Another important aspect of technology use is transparency: some companies want to give employees access to more information, and some prefer to offer less. But technology does give you the opportunity for increased transparency within the organization—IT, accounting, marketing and advertising, or any other area where you feel your workers would benefit from knowing more about how what they’re doing is contributing to bigger objectives within the company.

Some businesses even opt to map out entire career paths and share them with their employees, so they know exactly what they can look forward to.

Finally, technology can boost your organization’s efficiency and productivity. Team members who are empowered to make decisions regarding their roles can create checklists and processes, find tools to make their job easier, or even automate their work to the point where their role isn’t even necessary. Naturally, there should be a logical advancement path for them to follow if they bring that level of value to the company, but it has never been easier for entire companies to run lean with a small team.

Final Thoughts

One of the best ways to keep your employees is to hire the right people in the first place. The latest technology in HR allows you to efficiently identify and onboard workers that are a good cultural fit. When you have processes in place to find the right people, and your training program is effective, you’ll retain more of your best talent.

How are you leveraging technology and innovation in your company to retain your workers?

From gamification to Google’s infamous 20% time policy, there are many simple ways to keep your employees engaged. But you will need to seize opportunities as they present themselves. You don’t keep your best team members by accident – it will require a deliberate, consistent effort on your part.

By Jon Hainstock

About the author

Jon Hainstock is the co-founder of ZoomShift, scheduling and time clock software designed for hourly employees. You can connect with Jon on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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