There isn’t a business in the world that can run without at least one employee, and most rely on many people working together to deliver a service or product for their customers. It’s crucial for employers to acknowledge their hard-working staff and make sure that they feel appreciated. Part of this revolves around how the resources provided in the office (or remotely) can impact employees’ working day, and how employers can improve this. Employer News spoke to six technology experts for Employee Appreciation Day to discover what they would recommend organisations implement to keep their employees happy and feeling supported at work.
Learning over a lifetime
Agata Nowakowska, AVP at Skillsoft, emphasises the importance of regular training, and explains how “Having a structured learning and development programme in place shows employees that the company values their personal development. In fact, businesses with a strong learning culture have around 30-50% increased retention rates than those that don’t.
“In the digital world, employees are often mobile and running against time. Whilst they value learning development, they require training that meets the demands of the modern workplace. Intelligent learning solutions that provide employees with engaging and tailored learning paths are the solution for many forward-thinking companies as it enables them to meet each individual’s requirements while encouraging them to take control over their own learning. Employees can learn on the go, whether that means doing an eLearning module at their desk or watching a video whilst on their train journey home. By giving employees the freedom to choose their own path, investing in employee training, and cultivating a culture of inclusion, organisations can create a happier and more productive workforce.”
In the public sector specifically, Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds, highlights the need for constant learning, so that employees never feel out of their depth.
“Employees are at the heart of public sector organisations, sustaining all the activities keeping the U.K.’s public services up and running, and all of them deserve our appreciation. This is particularly true for those working in the IT departments—whether it’s life-saving technology in hospitals, confidential data held by the government, or official-sensitive information for the department of defence, IT employees are constantly working behind-the-scenes to ensure IT quality and functionality in these organisations are upheld. This does, however, require employees to have the expertise necessary to maintain IT services across the country. To help shoulder this responsibility, organisation leaders need to work with IT teams in addressing the need to upskill, investing in the relevant training and resources, and therefore supporting them in gaining confidence to take on current and future tech demands.”
Technology can tackle mundane tasks
Training helps employees feel more confident with their work, but technology itself can in fact make the workload easier in many places, as Rob Mellor, VP and GM of WhereScape EMEA, explains.
“Using manual methods to gather and work with the data required for actionable business analysis could take months of an employee’s time and effort, which is not practical in today’s real-time, instantaneous world. Fortunately, investing in automation software can help relieve this by allowing employees to gather data and speed up the time it takes to derive business value from it, which allows them to focus on other business value-add tasks. Ultimately, this will make tasks easier, quicker, and less stressful for your employees, easing their workload, while also giving your organisation a competitive edge.”
Johan Pellicaan, Vice President & Managing Director at Scale Computing, agrees with this, and argues that appreciation “runs deeper than free lunches. The IT industry in particular has a responsibility to focus its innovation not just on creating products which are faster, or offer more ROI and uptime, but rather, to create products that remove the stressful, firefighting elements of many IT roles, particularly for distributed IT enterprise managers. Similarly, enterprises have a responsibility to make this part of their decision-making process when buying new technology, but how many of them actively consider it?
“The idea that technology can self-heal, for instance, or that it can be designed to eliminate some of the familiar complexities of identifying, mitigating and correcting infrastructure problems is now part of the design and product philosophies of forward-thinking companies. The addition of machine intelligence is also helping reduce stress IT professionals manage on a daily basis, allowing them to re-focus on tasks which are of much greater benefit to individuals and business overall.”
Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru, shares an example of how AI can help improve employee satisfaction in contact centres.
“The introduction and implementation of AI into the contact centre can have a massive impact on the day-to-day agent experience. Many simple enquiries won’t even reach a human agent thanks to AI-driven self-service, therefore automating tedious and mundane tasks, as well as reducing wait times and speed to resolution for customers. Augmenting agents’ ability with AI while reducing channel complexity with effective omni-channel capabilities will have a significant impact on churn if approached with the goal of empowering agents to better manage service enquiries.
“Taking this approach means agents will have the opportunity to become more dynamic and confident when dealing with complex questions. AI can prompt the agent with helpful information to use in conversations with customers, allowing them to use initiative while moving away from scripted service scenarios.”
Company culture is critical
Beyond the resources employers provide, building a supportive culture at work is important too. Nicole Sahin, CEO and Founder of Globalization Partners, reveals that “four out of five employees are more motivated to work harder after their boss shows gratitude for their contribution. On the other hand, employees who don’t feel appreciated may quickly look for an exit. Studies show 79 percent of people who quit say ‘lack of appreciation’ is their main reason for leaving.
“Showing gratitude means more than simply saying ‘thank you’— especially when communicating with a multicultural team. What is rewarding to one global team member can cause stress or even offense to another. For example, in the U.S., an individualist culture, being singled out is appreciated, but this is less true in countries that are highly team oriented. About 85% of the world’s population lives in cultures that are considered ‘collectivist’. Team members from collectivist cultures often appreciate the work of the team more than the contribution of any one individual, and find it awkward or embarrassing to be called out, even for a heartfelt thank you. In this instance an employer should consider thanking them as part of thanking the overall team instead.”
While we shouldn’t need a day to remind us to appreciate employees, it’s never a bad thing to be nudged in the right direction. As budgets get tighter and days get busier, remembering to show gratitude to your staff is often a small act, but it can go a long way to keeping employees happy at work.