CATEGORY

EMPLOYEES

 

In 2020, we said that we believed 2021 would be a year for reassessing and improving approaches. The very human challenges and experiences of 2020, we felt, would inevitably cause businesses and organisations to empathetically reconsider and refocus on the people at the heart of their operations. Looking back on the last 12 months there have certainly been significant changes – many of them focused on improving connection and proximity between people, their brands, their communities, and their needs.  

Employee Engagement has seen more debate and discussion than ever before (9-5, WFH, The Great Resignation), driven by necessity, by competition, and by a real shift in the previously established status-quo. Technologies that seemed inaccessible or expensive became common practice, with QR codes and apps becoming part of day-to-day life from ordering from a menu to storing medical information. 2021 provoked developments which at their core worked to enable, encourage, and connect people. 

As we say goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022, we round up the themes and pieces that most appealed to you this year.  

Empowering the People  

2021 saw people revaluating what they wanted their life to look like and how their work fitted into the picture. After proving working from home was more than just a possibility, businesses have wrestled with how to offer flexibility to employees revaluating what they want their working life to look like, without compromising on other aspects of company culture. Companies who have embraced more flexibility for workers have then in turn been faced with challenges around sustaining a sense of belonging, a sense of community, as well as a sense of enthusiasm across remote teams whose only interface with their colleagues and the company is their laptop screen.  

While working from home may not be going anywhere soon, looking to the immediate future there will be a very real need to implement the infrastructure and solutions to support a seamless working experience across all circumstances.  

Customer Centric  

Looking specifically at Customer Engagement, the last 18 months have probably seen more need for change, reinvention, and agile responses than in the last 10 years. Supply chain shortages, haulage delays, new legislation on importing and deporting – it’s been a tough year to meet ever increasing demand and high customer expectations. It would be wrong to write off today’s consumers as easily influenced or swayed, when the reality is that most are actually looking to be impressed by services, values and experiences that stand out from the crowd. In their research into customer journeys, PwC found that people will pay up to 16% more for a great customer experience (CX), while Gartner found that 64% of customers value CX over price.  

The growing market evidence suggests that instead of being impatient for deliveries, consumers may actually be frustrated with poor communication and service; instead of fickle they may in fact be more conscious of where they’re spending than ever before. If 2021 was the year for trying to keep up with an ever-changing landscape, will 2022 be the year to utilise learnings to actually stop, listen and understand the customer?  

Sustainable Change for the Greater Good 

Since early 2020, we have all had time to think and reflect on the way we live our lives. People have taken up habits and hobbies with more interest in sustainability, nature and resourcefulness – DIY around the house, upcycling furniture or clothing, sewing masks, growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Outside of the home, local communities and governments have become more aware of the conscious efforts required to reengage, reassure and encourage participation in order to sustain local businesses and commerce. On a global scale, the recent COP26 conventions acted as a reminder for many that collective action is desperately needed to address the very present challenges for society – to turn the tides or slow down the devastating effects of climate change, and to support communities rebuild or reinforce their right to belong and thrive.       

Have the unignorable events of 2020 and 2021 provoked new practices that we will take with us into 2022? Could we be at a turning point for attitudes and values across society? 

The onboarding of new employees continues to be a topical and important subject for organisations, particularly in the current job market where the number of vacancies far outweighs the number of available candidates and where remote working is becoming more common practice. Hiring is a timely and expensive activity. So it is paramount not to throw away all that time, effort and cost with an onboarding experience that leaves the person uninspired and possibly even regretting the decision to join in the first place. Creating that sense of belonging and connection with colleagues is much harder to achieve when there is much less, or no, in person interaction. Getting people to bring their best selves to work in a state of mind that unleashes their self-expression and enthusiasm for further exploration and learning is the desired outcome of an effective onboarding programme.   

When to start 

Through the attraction and recruitment phase of the employee journey, expectations are being set and clarified and the potential employee is starting to build a picture of the organisation’s culture and values and what it might be like to work there. They are continually questioning and assessing whether it will be a good fit for them and whether it is somewhere they believe they will be able to prosper, develop their skills and career whilst making a valued contribution to the development of the business. The momentum that is being built through these stages must continue up until the moment they join and during those vital early stages after. They need to start their new role with the confidence that they have made the correct decision, ready to embrace the new challenge, fit in with their colleagues and contribute from as early as possible. They are also often, simply asking themselves: “will I be happy there?”   

There is a debate as to when onboarding should commence, ranging from the moment a candidate accepts the job offer, through to the day the person starts. Many organisations believe the optimum time to start is the latter, but more are realising the benefits of starting the onboarding experience much earlier; from the moment the candidate signs the offer of employment and returns the contract. One of the arguments for starting the formal onboarding at the time of signing the contract for instance is that this is the moment that garners the most enthusiasm and excitement from the employee, and we should not forget the importance of emotion in decision making. Particularly, when there is the opportunity to respond to, reinforce and encourage those emotions: “Yes, I will be happy here. Yes, I made the right choice” 

The importance of getting onboarding right  

Research by Glassdoor has shown that great employee onboarding can increase retention by as much as 82% and productivity by over 70%. Yet, a Gallup survey found that only 12% of employees strongly agreed that their organisation did a great job with onboarding. These figures alone show that there is scope for organisations to do better. It is important for companies to critically assess their onboarding, check their processes and regularly ask for feedback from new starters. Evaluating what works and what doesn’t is key to success, and the results may surprise you. 

Graphic showcasing: 58% of organisations focus their onboarding on a process and paperwork. 33% said their onboarding was informal, inconsistent or reactive rather than being structured and strategic.

Historically, onboarding has been focused on the process and not the human and emotional connection. Employees expect IT equipment and email access to be ready for when they arrive, they expect a pile of forms to fill in and get back to HR, they expect overview PowerPoints and maybe the odd corporate video. Employees who can easily understand, absorb and connect with essential company information in those first few days are obviously more likely to become productive faster, meaning they’ll feel better about their own position and knowledge in their new role.  However, even if the content of your onboarding is the best, if it is executed poorly or leaves the employee feeling overwhelmed or overloaded with information, then they’re not likely to be inspired and could be disengaged from the get-go. 

Onboarding needs to be so much more than just a process. What we need to be creating is an emotional experience for the person – one that helps them really connect with the organisation, excites them, makes them proud to be part of it, feel valued and energised to bring out the best of their qualities, sets them up for the road ahead, and encourages them to want to tell others how great it is. In other words, it is all about invigorating them. It is this emotional connection that will stimulate their motivation, commitment, and participation, driving their future engagement and performance.  

The balance of effective Onboarding  

Baek and Bramwell of Cornell University conducted research into how you measure the effectiveness of Onboarding (Onboarding Effectiveness). They concluded that one of the best measures of an effective onboarding experience was ‘Time to Proficiency’. They defined this as the time it took a new hire to reach full productivity within the context of their role. For this to happen, a new employee needs to have a structured onboarding experience, with specifically defined outcomes, and an experience that is engaging to them. At the end of their onboarding, employees need to have achieved four clear objectives for the best chance of ongoing success (Baur); Role Clarity; Self-efficacySocial integration; Knowledge of organisational culture 

Motiviat | getting emotional over onboarding information on time to proficiency

A fundamental part of ‘Time to Proficiency’ is the context of your job (understanding company culture, your customers, products and services and colleague relationships). These set the tone for the content of your job (meaningful work, task suited to skills, teamwork, communications) which are the cognitive experiences that will shape your beliefs, perceptions and attitudes. If the reality of these experiences on content does not live up to the expectation set around the context you start to get cognitive dissonance which hinders building that vital emotional and human connection.  

A vital sense of belonging  

Creating an effective onboarding experience that has real impact, is consistent, valuable and enjoyable may seem like an impossible feat, especially with the added complication of needing to deliver it in a way that is accessible for a range of working practices, functions, or settings.  

We have all witnessed how technology has helped people during the pandemic, as workers were asked to work from home, technology enabled teams to stay connected. Without tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, working effectively would have been incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Technology can also certainly be used to play a significant part in onboarding to drive that quality of experience that is so important regardless of where employees are based. In a world where personalisation and differentiation are not only sought after but now expected by individuals, there is the opportunity to create something as a true reflection of your culture and values, making an impact on new employees or candidates and leaving them feeling they really made the right decision compared to your competition. 

Combining accessibility and ease of use, and really understanding the user’s motivations needs and expectations, creates an experience that is built to evoke a memorable and valuable emotion in the individual. It can help start to build those essential personal relationships and connections with colleagues regardless of where they are based through encouraging teamwork, collaboration and sharing experiences thus creating a greater sense of belonging. So, by stimulating their emotions during the onboarding process you reduce the risk of them quitting early or not even starting at all, getting them to be productive and contribute more quickly, helping them to settle in and feel as an integral part of the organisation, becoming your best ambassador.  

Do you want to find out how to deliver an effective onboarding experience? Find out how our solutions can help you here. Take a look at an Onboarding Solution in action with Zebra Technologies: MOTIVAIT | Partnership in Action – Zebra Technologies 

As organisations across the world adjust and transform to keep up with an evolving economic and social landscape, there is much talk about the many challenges that are having to be confronted, particularly in the workplace. From managing the increased desire of employees to work remotely and flexibly, to addressing the talent shortages that exist across a number sectors – the teams responsible for managing and sustaining employee engagement are being impacted from different directions.  

How can we better attract and keep the talent we need when there are many other companies out there fishing in the same pool trying to entice the best people with propositions and perks that may turn their heads? How can we help people feel like they belong, when there may not be an office to belong to anymore?     

A recent survey by McKinsey certainly highlighted the challenge in retaining employees. The survey found that 40% of participants said they are at least somewhat likely to quit in the next three to six months. 18% of respondents said their intentions range from likely to almost certain. These findings held across all five countries surveyed (Australia, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and were broadly consistent across industries. Businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry are the most at risk for losing employees, but many healthcare and white-collar workers say they also plan to quit. Even among educators—the employees least likely to say they may quit—almost one-third reported that they are at least somewhat likely to do so. 

Digital illustration showing an employees at work with a graphic above stating 40% of the workforce are somewhat likely to leave their job in the next six months

In my experience in HR and the recruitment sector, there is not one simple solution to this. There are a range of factors that can influence an individual’s decision to either join, stay or go, and if they decide to go, what are the considerations that are going to convince them which option is right for them. One size doesn’t fit all and the decision is ultimately a personal one. It might be the remuneration, the location, culture, belief in the vision, leadership and managerial capability, colleagues, market position, ability to develop and progress, interesting and relevant work or a complex mixture of all the above.  

That same McKinsey report highlighted that:

“employees crave investment in the human aspects of work. They want a renewed and revised sense of purpose in their work. They want social and interpersonal connections with their colleagues and managers. They want to feel a sense of shared identity. Yes, they want pay, benefits, and perks, but more than that they want to feel valued by their organizations and managers. They want meaningful—though not necessarily in-person—interactions, not just transactions!” 

Fundamentally, personal decisions are founded on how you make people feel. In other words, building an emotional attachment and engaging with them. Do they believe and are they convinced that they want to go on the journey with you? Do they understand your values? Can they see how they can fit in and perform? Did you make them feel valued and important?  Did you listen and understand their needs, wants and motivations? 

Let’s never forget that it’s a two-way experience and it’s about give and get, which is not a new concept but in the current climate, the power has shifted from the organisation to the individual. As a consequence; mindsets, attitudes and employee experiences need to be reviewed and tailored in order to differentiate organisations.  

According to Qualtrics, 55% of workers surveyed agreed that recognition for good work drives employee engagement, while employees studied tended to be at least 17% more engaged if they felt able to participate in feedback schemes. These types of investigations support the idea that engagement can be driven by reciprocity, and that if businesses make a genuine investment in their people, employees generally do tend to feel more valued and acknowledged, and in turn more motivated to commit and perform.   

When looking to provide consistent, sustainable and valued experiences for employees, consider how technology can be used to enhance existing approaches. When operating in a virtual environment, technology effectively enables scalability and accessibility; lifting or translating experiences to a digital environment with rich opportunity for additional features and interventions to boost interaction and engagement. Particularly for supporting the virtual connectedness of colleagues, or to hire on a large scale without leaning on internal resourcing, the right solutions can really make a positive impact and notable difference.  

In a world with almost endless options and solutions, there is no excuse to simply pile on tools and software that ends up overcomplicating the average day in the life of employees – especially considering budget restrictions and already saturated systems. Instead, digital solutions deployed should work to prioritise and embed the following into employee’s experiences:  

  • amplifying employee voice and feedback
  • encouraging multilevel recognition and communication 
  • embodying and reinforcing company culture and values 
  • improving the overall experience and “moments that matter” in the employee’s journey with you 
  • creating a sense of belonging 
  • seamless integration with existing tools.  

If ultimately, how the employee feels about work and the workplace will be a significant deciding factor as to whether they apply, join, and stay, then companies ought to start looking into how they deliver experiences in a way that leaves people excited or switched on. Much like how brands seek to nurture loyal, returning customers through innovative, impactful CX (customer experience), there is plenty of opportunity to apply the same dedication and care across the Employee Journey in order to nurture committed, engaged individuals eager to stay and grow.  

 

 

Does your organisation have employee engagement challenges are you looking for some inspiration on how to solve?

We at Motivait love creating innovative solutions that address real problems, do any of these sound familiar?

MOTIVAIT – Innovative Employee Solutions for Intangible Challenges

First impressions count. A statement that without a doubt applies to new employees starting a new job, and how they will perceive their team, managers, and organisation as a whole. They’ll have an initial picture built up based on the recruitment process and their own research. But it is only during the onboarding process that they get their first “real” view into the company: the first exposure to other people they are likely to be working with, to the true corporate culture and to some of the more practical aspects of their new day to day life. The early days of their new working journey and the experiences within it will shape their feelings and attitudes towards their role and future with the company or organisation. So, if they aren’t being made to feel excited, engaged and inspired from day 1, it will inevitably impact their engagement and loyalty, their willingness to stay long term and how they speak about their experience to others.

At some point we have all had to sit through monotonous, repetitive and disengaging training or learning modules when starting a new role – PowerPoint presentations and ice breakers – and 58% of organisations studied admit their onboarding programmes revolve solely around processes and paperwork. Can this really be the best first impression to give someone who you’re looking to develop into a productive, happy employee and ambassador for the brand?

Even more timely and relevant is the need for onboarding programmes to be agile and flexible enough to adapt to the changing work circumstances many of us have found ourselves in. Over 1/3 of the UK workforce are now working from home (up 10% between 2019 and 2020), and with 85% of those stating their expectation to move towards a more hybrid approach in the near future, it seems that organisational practices and approaches will increasingly need to be more inclusive of disparate or disjointed teams.

This is precisely where technology can step in to transform onboarding programmes and processes into experiences that guide employees through informative, impactful learning journeys wherever they’re joining from. While simultaneously helping individuals feel immersed within the organisation and aligned with culture and values from day 1. Irrespective of whether they’re in the office, starting remote, or separated from peers, managers and their physical working environment.

These experiences should be curated to ensure employees leave their onboarding period feeling well equipped and motivated to embark on and make successes of their new roles. Bauer et al state in their research that by this point, employees should have achieved four key objectives for the best chance of ongoing success:

  1. Role clarity: employees understand their role, expectations within it, how to perform in order to achieve expected results
  2. Self-efficacy; employees feel confident in their ability to perform and contribute
  3. Social integration: employees feel connected, valued & trusted
  4. Knowledge of organisational culture; employees understanding and adjusting to company politics, social norms such as language, goals, values and history

So, how do we implement these objectives in a way that’s accessible, impactful, enjoyable and sustainable?

Digital Onboarding, With a Difference

Games and gamification are already being utilised in the attraction phases of recruitment, with games being created to simulate everything from a day in the life of a new employee to testing an employee’s soft skills.

Following that trend into the employment phase of an employee’s journey, we can make use of gamification to create unique and engaging experiences that keep them informed and interested up to and during their first few months of employment.

Creating these kinds of experiences takes time and expertise, balancing the needs and culture of the company with needs of the new employee.

We consider these weeks and months as a quest, creating a structure around what they need to learn and understand early on. Each stage or level of the quest represents new knowledge and experiences that will help them to learn. Focusing on intrinsic motivation, we choose mechanics that support the employees with social connectedness, education and goals to focus on, all in an environment that promotes exploration and discovery at their own pace. To this we this we add mini-games and interactive learning materials all tied together with interesting narratives and storylines. This gives the individuals reasons to want to continue rather than just knowing they have to continue.

Weaving in these dynamics and elements enhance the overall experience significantly, and research shows these types of great onboarding programmes and solutions can lead to higher retention rates, with some studies stating as much as 69% higher retention after 3 years.

Right now, as we focus more and more on digital transformation and open our minds to new and improved ways of working, there is a key opportunity to stop relying on default or traditional methods, simply because “that’s how it’s always been done.”

Whether you’re the one doing the chasing or the one being chased, mandatory training is rarely a source of fun or enthusiasm.
But given it’s usually vital information that you need to prove you have completed and understood, it really should be something people feel motivated to do. If you’re looking for ways to improve completion rates and help people want to participate, rather than feel they have to, we can enhance learning and reimagine processes to make them more engaging, intuitive and enjoyable.
Breaking down content and energising the experience.

 

Feeling Inspired?
Get in touch and see how we could help you tackle the engagement challenges you’re facing.  

There are often lots of things we’d love to have and often lots of change we’d like to deliver across Employee Engagement. How many hours do we all spend thinking about how to kickstart an idea, solve an internal problem, or streamline a process only to get stuck on where to begin? Or maybe how to bring the desired results and behaviours to life? Do you sometimes look at a challenge, know what you want people to feel, but aren’t sure what the journey you want to take them on could look like?

The good news is there’s nothing we at Motivait enjoy more than using creative problem solving to deliver tangible results, for all those intangible challenges.

What engagement challenges are you looking for some inspiration on? Some of the questions below may sound familiar – why not tell us what you’d add to the list!

How does anyone even begin to ‘round-up’ the year we’ve all had? In our personal and professional lives, most of us have experienced such vast challenges and significant change that it is hard to believe it has been 12 months and not 24. Though we may be turning a new page as we move to the new year, it is not an entirely new story, and in 2021 many businesses will most likely continue to grapple with different ups-and-downs and the effects of 2020.

That said, we believe what also lies ahead is an opportunity to make a real difference by reassessing and improving approaches, focussing on the people at the heart of businesses, communities, organisations, and society, to achieve success in spite of uncertainty.

So instead of rounding up 2020 as if the story were over, we thought we’d look back on the themes and pieces that most appealed to people’s needs and interests over the year. Reflection and food for thought, as the collective journey towards new approaches, strategies and innovation continues into 2021 and beyond.

  1. Keeping Teams Connected & Empowered

This year teams had to act and adapt quickly to new circumstances, conflicting priorities, and different strategies. A need like never before to think creatively and innovatively in how challenges were met. With many moving to remote working or facing heightened demand, lots of us looked for ways to keep employees feeling productive, fulfilled, and motivated – through digital solutions.

In 2021, there will no doubt be a new round of challenges to face in supporting and sustaining an engaged, committed, and productive workforce in what will still be difficult business conditions. Here are our 3 most popular posts from this year looking at employee engagement, to help spark ideas for 2021:

  1. Customer Care, Concern and Connection

In a recent study, 70% of European based executives stated that the current coronavirus pandemic was accelerating the pace of their digital transformation. This year saw brands across all sectors make herculean efforts to try and stay connected to their customers, some even diversifying the services they offered in order to sustain the customer bond. Digital experiences inevitably became the only vehicle for staying in touch, and while technology is amazing because of its reach and flexibility, it is just a vehicle at the end of the day.
It is people who we want to connect to, build relationships with, and learn from their motivations, reactions, and needs. Human crises require human responses.

Is 2021 the year to flip our thinking on digital transformation and focus in on how it can deliver better connection, empathy, and engagement? Here are our 3 most popular posts from this year that looked at building better relationships and engagement with customers:

  1. Future Values

Over these past few months, we have all had time to think and reflect on the way we live our lives. Crises often have the effect of bringing our core values into focus, and by having a number of our old routines and habits taken away from us, we’ve maybe been reminded of what we think is important. Furthermore, more than ever before people are expecting the brands around them to stand for something. Businesses are now being pushed beyond their classic interests to become advocates for a better society.

Euromonitor’s 2020 Sustainability Survey found that COVID-19 has brought social purpose to the fore, with two thirds of surveyed companies defining sustainability as “supporting local communities”, a 15% increase compared to the previous year. Accenture reports 62% of customers want companies to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues like sustainability, transparency or fair employment practices.

As we all reassess what practices and approaches we want to represent our values in 2021, here are our 3 most popular posts on the emerging power of values and ethics in society.

3 responses for 3 common Employee Engagement challenges

A challenge we come across when designing our engagement solutions, is how often teams focussed on Employee Engagement, People, HR or Talent struggle to pinpoint the exact change they want to make. They’ve run the surveys, got the results, can see there’s room for improvement, but don’t know where or how to begin. This is understandable – the problem can feel intangible, especially as engagement survey responses are mostly fuelled by emotions. Improving the emotional wellbeing, connection, commitment, motivation, and ultimately performance across a business doesn’t happen overnight. You can, however, make meaningful, sustainable change that looks and feels innovative for everyone involved without diverging from company objectives, but that crucially addresses what your employees are telling you.

To help demystify these solutions and show that it can be easily achieved, we thought we’d break down 3 common Engagement Survey trends and their responses.

Social Management & Preventing Detachment

As we find ourselves working more from home, or on the move, it can be very difficult to feel “part” of something. Our sense of belonging and purpose can become diluted. Providing ways for employees to communicate and socialise with each other is essential, something we have spoken about a number of times.

What is the benefit in addressing this? The feeling of isolation that can often result from working remotely can be damaging not just for your sense of belonging within a team, but also for your mental health. From a business perspective, having people not in the same building or room can reduce the opportunities for fast interactions and iterations of ideas, serendipitous conversations in the kitchen and those water cooler moments. They may feel like minor aspects of business-as-usual, but all of these moments can often lead to creative sparks being ignited.

Employers who enforce a high level of social connection (with co-workers and the wider external community, perhaps through nudges etc) benefit from a 64% high engagement rate of employees.

Idea Management & Employee Voice

It is not uncommon for employees to feel voiceless, especially in large organisations, in the face of change, or when their roles focus on day to day operations rather than strategic objectives. This can be incredibly demotivating and if left unaddressed can drive a wedge between employee groups and the organisation. Employees who don’t believe their company will act on their feedback are 7x more likely to be disengaged than those who do. It gets even worse when employees are asked for their opinion, but nothing ever happens with the ideas they provide. Not only does this make them feel they can’t be heard, but that when they are – what they say has little to no value. Having the “What’s the point?” effect.

What is the benefit in addressing this? Companies often preach that their employees are their most important asset. Sometimes they don’t realise just how true this is. Employees are the face of a brand, they manage customer problems, and live and breathe the products or services all day every day. They are often in a good position to resolve common issues or ideate improvements. Encourage knowledge sharing, and inclusivity across ongoing projects. By supporting employees to be collaborators and facilitators, you may well find you’ve created teams of innovators.
Places where “employees have influence” get longer tenures out of their workers. After three years, there’s a 47% chance of an employee sticking with them. At companies seen as less empowering, employees only have a 35% chance of celebrating their three-year work anniversary.

Recognition Management & Boosting Commitment

Another big issue that employees often talk about is not feeling recognised for the contributions they make to the company and for each other. 82% of employees are happier when they’re recognised at work. Especially meaningful at times where people are maybe going above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a project done on time, or even just when you can see a colleague is having a full-on week. This does not just mean offering financial recognition, like a bonus or vouchers. Extrinsic rewards can sometimes have the opposite effect; your work on this project after hours is worth £25 to spend on Amazon. Doesn’t feel great does it?

What is the benefit in addressing this? Feeling recognised fosters a sense of community, that the people around you appreciate you for your skills, your aptitude, and all you do. Celebrating wins, boosting visibility of people’s contributions, providing spaces for people to share and receive praise can go a long way to improving community spirit and how fulfilled people feel in their role. Employees who are confident that their company recognises their individual contribution are more likely to keep contributing and going the extra mile.

When asked what would motivate them to remain with their current employer, respondents cited interesting work (74 percent) and recognition and rewards (69 percent) as the top factors.

Addressing the Problem

Having identified three core areas to work on (employee responses & needs) we can start to design the solutions to improve the employee experience, thus moving the dial on overall employee engagement. Myth buster time: these solutions don’t have to be complex, distracting platforms that sit apart from everyday work! We believe in simply enhancing common processes and approaches to deliver better results. So, let’s give it a go!

  • Connection: Platforms that mimic social networks can feel familiar and encourage more informal conversations. But presenting another channel for communicating isn’t always as helpful as it may initially seem. When you’re working on your own, away from the office, seeing you have 77 notifications across 8 different work-based applications can cause more chaos than connection as you stress over which conversation to answer first or what channel has genuine work-related information.
    Instead offer a solution that could mimic the workplace while running in the background; where you know which break out zone to head to when you’re in need of some friendly, non-work related chat, or alternatively pop into the ideation area when you’ve hit the wall and you want to bounce some ideas off people. A tutorial that could run for the first few weeks could also help guide people on how to get the most out of the new tool (and avoid awkward misuse or over-sharing moments), and even help identify and source internal champions to help engage and encourage others appropriately.
  • Voice: Speaking of ideas, an effective way to provide all employees with a voice is to implement digital ideation systems, a place where employees can submit ideas they feel will benefit the organisation. The system needs to be available to everyone so that they can submit an idea. Other employees would then be able to see these ideas, comment on them and vote on them. The voting is important to help surface the best ideas. Voting could be in rounds, with gated progress, so that ideas need to pass certain checkpoints to be seen by wider or more senior audiences. Ideas that are chosen to be developed can them be collaboratively worked on and developed further by teams within the system. A system like this can be open all year around for general ideas but could also be used to help solve specific problems set out by the company. This kind of crowd sourced solution development can be incredibly effective and make everyone feel they have a chance to be heard.
  • Recognition: And finally, providing a space within the solution to manage and showcase recognition would round off our three key issues. It would need to include more than top down recognition, although providing prompts like “Who’s really impressed you this week?” could help facilitate better relations between teams and managers. But it’s also about enabling peer to peer, informal, and cross departmental or regional recognition. Having this integrated alongside the social and ideation threads would only do more to bring communities together, knowing you can say ‘thank you’ or ‘great work’ from afar.
    Employees could recognise each other for jobs well done, pitching in when they didn’t need to, displaying company values, and each could be assigned individual gestures or commendations depending on the message being sent. Virtual applause for job well done that could be used more frequently, a high five for great teamwork, specific badges for excellent customer service or innovation, etc. These awards could be displayed on the individual’s profile, as references or reminders of their performance, and subtle encouragement to work towards attaining more. The profiles could even be used as a references within appraisals or internal reviews, adding more meaning to everyday work and wins.

No matter what the job is most workers and employees will need to go through training, learning and development in some form at some point. It will vary drastically between sectors amongst other factors but generally it can be split into three distinct categories: mandatory (for example, health and safety or IT security), career related (project management), and personal development (communication and presentation skills). In the corporate world learning has received more pronounced attention (and subsequently investment in many cases) from executive and people teams in recent years, especially as demand for learning opportunities builds with each new generation entering the workforce, and with more readily available opportunities to demonstrate upskilling across your career. Scan the careers section on LinkedIn and you will spot ‘learning’ playing an integral role in many organisations EVP, or just being an essential compliance piece for effective employees.

However along with demand, expectations are also growing. Organisations are eager to stay relevant and keep their employee experience offering innovative, but so often people keep circling back to LMS platforms with no personalisation or personality. You can only reinvent the same content or processes so many times, and L&D professionals today find themselves in a battle for people’s attention in a world that has had to move so many events and strategies entirely online. Equipped with all the benefits of technology, but perhaps still facing a delay until we can have face-to-face sessions again, how can we reinvigorate and enable L&D to ensure participation, commitment, and engagement?

Video is King?

Video has long been the first step for online learning settings, and it is particularly useful when virtually replicating what otherwise would be happening in a classroom based or face to face environment. Quick videos suit the attention span of today’s learner, and conferencing helps encourage connecting and collaborating across locations. There are plenty of advantages that video content can bring to the professional world. It has the potential to be delivered at any time often on any device, it can be made bite sized, it can be made collaborative, autonomous, virtual, the possibilities only grow with technological advancements. But in the same breath, so does video exhaustion. Zoom has seen a growth from 10 million meeting participants per day to over 300 million per day since the start of January 2020. It has been used for everything from virtual coffee mornings to delivering webinars. Whilst the online move was vital for the events space and has shown great lengths of creativity behind L&D, even by the second month of lockdown many were feeling saturated, facing webinar overload, and most concerningly worrying about the potential impact on career progression and stagnation over time.

Video undoubtedly does enable more dynamic content production, but it doesn’t always allow for inter-personal or spontaneous moments that develop naturally in person and this has been noticed profoundly since lockdown. Conferencing and video both have a tendency to fall flat when it comes to personal and professional development. Individuals are lacking the communication and collaboration required to thrive, develop, and pick up those soft skills from being immersed in a physical environment with others. It can feel hard for people to feel like they’re progressing, learning, or on track with their development when it’s just them and their screen all day every day, they’re having to prove their skills and aptitude purely online. This is where a balance between technology and human interaction becomes important. There are plenty of digital solutions to connect A to B or carry messaging. To support people’s innate drive for relatedness, autonomy, mastery and purpose any implemented technology needs to facilitate experiences that address and interpret the core needs of the people involved.

People need more of a hook with compelling content in order to build engagement and commitment to the learning path.

Not Just Playing Games

A 2019 survey found that 83% of the respondents receiving gamified training felt motivated, versus only 28% for those undertaking non-gamified training. When gamified elements were added to training, boredom dropped to 10%. And although integrating gamification into training or L&D isn’t new: right now, there is a great opportunity to delve further into its possibilities.

Think about traditionally content heavy training: we have all been faced with reading through pages upon pages of health and safety, corporate rules and regulation training that is often difficult to absorb. Translating this content into a virtual gamified experience has been show to be a particularly effective approach for helping to deliver consistent experiences in a way that employees can ‘digest’ easily, interpret

That said, hesitations around gamifying experiences is understandable, particularly when trying to deliver essential or meaningful training, such as how to improve communication or diversity awareness. But gamification doesn’t always just make something fun. It can be a stimulating element for ensuring learning transfer, through more meaningful recognition techniques, visualising progress, or simply by integrating levels or tutorials to help people find their feet on a new course. In the absence of face to face training, simulation and scenario-based training can be a great substitute, especially with the advent of more affordable technologies such as Virtual Reality. Applicable for more practical roles when you’re not yet able to put skills to the test in reality, like practising beauty treatments or developing trade related skills safely. This kind of immersive approach can be used for this by putting people in realistic, but safe situations – just like you would in a role play in face to face training, but without the nervous laughs and self-consciousness. When considering VR, research shows that the added movement associated with being able to move your head and even arms can increase a participant’s feeling of empathy during the experience, which can make a huge difference for people in customer facing positions. Or as part of recreating or simulating everyday experiences within a virtual environment, participants can create avatars to explore content, courses and locations, in a much more direct way.

Once you lift the experience from the classroom, the opportunities and approaches are endless. So whether it’s recreating a training event on a group video call, developing and providing a gamified experience or a virtual world: the common denominator in what will make each approach successful is the focus on making it an engaging experience, made accessible to potentially all employees irrespective of location. It might not be a full replacement for everyone being in a room together, but it’s certainly one step closer, and a way that training, L&D can be provided more naturally. Still providing something insightful, engaging and valuable yet is capable of evolving with changing circumstances and requirements. And not forgetting, providing an element of fun along the way!

The last few months have opened the public’s eyes to vulnerabilities in the care system more than ever before. Groups and communities have been isolated, while those trying to protect them have had increased pressure and responsibility, with little or no enhanced approaches to help. There is a real need to rebuild care and connection, utilising the tools and innovation we often apply to other sectors of society.

What should the next generation of care look like? Where could we go from here for cross-collaboration between communities and areas of expertise? Can similar approaches and an understanding of users be applied in a preventative way? And how can we innovatively introduce technology in everyday interactions to improve quality of life?

In our virtual lecture with Newcastle University Open Lab, the team walk through a solution focussed on streamlining and reimagining working processes with compassion. We examine the development journey, through the lens of a real care shift, as an example of how technology, UX design, and empathy can come together to create insightful tools that empower users and promote quality care.

The first step of many towards addressing the structural, resourcing, societal and emotive challenges at the heart of an aging population. 

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