Don't look now, but the topic of employee engagement is coming up again.
We've already told you how employees seem to be more than ever "quitting in their seats." New research only appears to confirm this, with employees actually trying to quit by leaving their seats.
To the tune of half of all US employees in the research hoping or thinking about changing jobs this year, or at least looking around and speculating. One in nine say they will definitely change jobs.
That's what "business operating system" provider Bolste found when it surveyed 2,766 respondents, in partnership with YouGov, for its 2016 Industry and Productivity Report.
Happiness Is Elusive
One interesting aspect of the Bolste finding is how it's broken down by industries. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, consulting employees reported the highest level of contentment — with more than 80 percent of respondents saying they were either extremely or somewhat "happy, motivated and stimulated" by their job.
On the other end of the spectrum, both the medical and public sector/government groups seem like the least content. Almost 40 percent of respondents in these sectors claimed to be indifferent, somewhat unhappy or extremely unhappy (or "don't know").
Pointless and Irrelevant
What the survey also uncovers is a sense of alienation or annoyance, some of it aimed at technology and communication.
For instance, 47 percent of respondents believe that 61 to 100 percent of all their work emails on any given day are "irrelevant" (with 14 percent saying 81 to 100 percent).
Another 14 percent thumbed their noses at "pointless meetings" as the means by which their companies get new employees up to speed; 21 percent moaned about a "cookie-cutter-type manual" for new employees; and 22 percent admitted their companies onboarded by leaving new employees to figure out things on their own.
"Our findings revealed employees considered common workplace communication methods such as email and meetings time-wasters," wrote Bolste CEO Leif Hartwig in the report.
"As organizations move towards efficiency and a more integrated work culture, leaders will have to rethink the tools that will best serve their needs, in order to keep a happy, productive and fulfilled workforce."
Do We Really Need More Tech?
Without arguing whether Bolste's numbers are all that alarming — and part of my beef with employee engagement data is just that ... they are all over the place and sometimes seemingly not that bad — we can scratch our heads at Bolste's conclusion that technology is the solution. Of course a technology solutions provider would say that!
And ask other technology companies, and they say a similar thing.
"Yes, HR technology designed for new generations of workers helps create connectivity in real-time, and its ability to give honest and positive feedback changes the way teams and individuals feel about their work environments. It can reduce turnover, break down traditional workplace boundaries between management and staff, and allow for greater connectivity across departments, offices, and even geographical boundaries," said Autumn Manning, CEO of YouEarnedIt, an HR technology service.
"People are using a greater number and variety of advanced technology and applications to share and connect with each other than ever before. So when they engage in collaboration and communication activities in the workplace and find the tools available to them inferior and inefficient, they get frustrated," said Mike Bourke, Aspect Software’s SVP and GM of Workforce Optimization. "Providing like-applications and technology such as mobile options and software that serves up information in graphical versus text-based ways can make employees feel more comfortable processing and utilizing data and therefore become more engaged and productive."
A realistic argument is that: Buyer beware.
"Technology (or what I call gimmicks) are often looked to one of the things that inspires engagement or heightens creativity. Sadly, for every company that has high engagement with the latest and greatest technology, there is another company who has the same (if not better) technology with stunningly low engagement and no creativity," said Justin Brady, a boss and owner of Texas-based marketing agency Cultivate.
His fix is "inspiring and innovative leaders"
Though they don't grow on trees like tech-based workplace solutions seem to.
What do you think? Is tech the cure for what ails the American workplace? A blend of great old-fashioned management and Slack-like collaboration tools? More email?
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