Smarter Sensing – Take the Real-Time Pulse of your Workforce

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Large-scale, annual “engagement surveys” and/or periodic, robust surveys at many organizations have outlived their usefulness. Employees feel like it’s just another routine exercise – like mandatory trainings and other things considered “administrivia” that don’t have anything to do with them being able to do their jobs, or enhance their careers, their health, their wealth.

For them, expecting something to change based on the survey is equivalent to tossing it into the Grand Canyon and waiting to hear the echo when it hits the bottom.

If you’re serious about finding out what’s keeping your workforce from firing on all cylinders (or better still, what is working well), conducting yet another canned employee satisfaction survey is not the way to go.

Smart Sensing: What works in a t-shirt can work for your business.

What if you could apply the thinking behind smart sensorscomputer chips in textiles that measure an athlete’s physiological data with the goal of optimizing performance and reducing risk – to your employee satisfaction surveys? I don’t mean physically getting employees to wear some kind of “engagement sensor”. What smart sensors do for athletes is provide constant feedback on performance and progress towards goals. Isn’t that the kind of information about your workforce that would be more useful to you?

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Technology does enable employers to engage in more focused, real-time “sensing.” Incorporating elements such as quick polls, rate-this-page, “shout outs” and more on the corporate intranet and benefits/total rewards portals allow for immediate, and relevant, feedback. These techniques become even more powerful if senior leadership acknowledges – and acts on – the feedback.

Similarly, robust analytics of employee self-service site usage and patterns also provide a wealth of information, without the need to conduct any sensing. Mining such data to put together an accurate picture of what employees do—not just what they say—can inform future system, and even program, enhancements.

Then too, effective of use of “Social Recognition”—public acknowledgment of an individual’s accomplishments—is another powerful form of feedback. When supported by tools such as those offered by GloboForce, O.C. Tanner, and others, you create an engaging peer-to-peer forum.

These tactics can give you solid roadmaps to where you need to focus your energies to improve engagement. Then, organizations can conduct more formal sensing – targeted surveys and focus groups for example – to collect responses from employees that are more meaningful, and actionable.

It comes down to improving your business by listening to your workforce. Smart sensing, as I use it here, uncovers what really matters.

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