Executives Are Out Of Touch With The Human Effect Of Digital Disruption

from tech.revolution

I’m sure you’ve heard it before:  Happy employees mean happy customers. But what happens when customers and employees evolve to a point where executives lose sight of who they are, what they value and what they want?

That’s exactly what’s happening in this era of digital Darwinism. Technology and society are evolving.

Customer and employee behaviors, norms and values too are evolving. What’s not advancing in parallel are organizational investments, whether they be in operational, product and service innovation to get in front of, or keep up with, modern employee and customer experiences. As a result, companies are increasingly exposed to disruption as progressive customers and employees seek engagement and experiences that align with their expectations, preferences and standards.

Digital transformation is one of the biggest trends in business modernization today. Organizations all around the world are actively investing in advanced technologies to overhaul and update how companies work. But, the promise of digital transformation is more than being digital. It’s also about understanding how technology is affecting employees and customers. And, in my research, I find time and time again, that many executives are simply out of touch with how people are changing. You can’t reap the benefits of employee or customer happiness if you don’t know them.

In a research effort that studied employee engagement, I discovered a significant gap in how executives perceive the role of employee engagement and how employees wish to be engaged.

For example, 99% of executives believe that their employees have a major impact on the company’s success and that employee engagement is instrumental in that success. In fact, executives rank employee engagement as a priority at 8.3 on a scale of 10.  At the same time however, data from my research suggests that while executives value employee engagement, they aren’t doing a great job of actually engaging employees. On average, employees rated their own engagement at an abysmal 5.5 out of 10.

More here.

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2 Comments

  1. There are many ways in which technology will affect the world economy in the next few decades. So, we must ask ourselves: what are the effects of these changes, and who should we look to implement them and create guidelines for them? Well, the answer to that are executives of the companies that will be using these types of technologies. Ultimately, it is their decision on implementation and policies. One technology that is going to begin disrupting the United States and global economies dramatically is artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence already impacts many aspects of our daily lives at work, at home and as we move about. Over the next decade, analyst firm Tractica predicts that annual Global AI enterprise software revenue will grow from $644 million in 2016 to nearly $39 billion by 2025. Services-related revenue should reach almost $150 billion. They report that there are 6 artificial intelligence segments which will account for a significant percentage of these revenues: machine learning, natural language processing and understanding, computer vision, machine reasoning, strong ai, and deep learning. All of these combined technologies will have an extreme impact of the way business is done. And the scary thing is, everything is business. From the local hair salon to the largest tech giant everything is a business. Therefore, the true extent of how this ai technology is unknown at this time. It may put millions of people out of jobs and with no where for them to go, the unemployment rate worldwide will skyrocket. Even data input jobs will be at risk. There next excerpt is directly from IBM Watson’s website: Cognitive capture leverages AI and Machine Learning to expedite the process of “training” their systems to recognize key metadata (like employee numbers, invoice numbers, or loan numbers) and digitize records more effectively. It also liberates companies from scanning application and service vendor lock-ins. Cognitive capture leverages innovative cloud, machine learning, and open source architecture to convert unstructured data into powerful insights through analytics. It also helps companies meet regulatory requirements without the burden of storing paper records and increases the speed and accuracy of information discovery. Instead of just extracting the text, images and signatures from documents, cognitive capture learns the context of documents. It can then trigger workflows accordingly, to either file documents away in a repository, or send it to a case management system, accounts receivable or other application for immediate attention. If this isn’t cause for concern, I’m not sure what is. At the end of the theoretical day, executives of large firms must set specific and safe policies and guidelines regarding these new technologies in order to maintain a proper economic balance.

  2. Commenting holistically on the subject of employee engagement there are a number of ways that businesses can increase employee involvement. An article by Robyn Kelly discusses such methods (https://www.gallup.com/workplace/231581/five-ways-improve-employee-engagement.aspx). One of the biggest is that employees need to have a greater understanding of how their efforts fit into the company. This is a concept emphasized by Sandy Nessing, who is a managing director of American Electric Power. At her company they commonly use what are known as learning maps to keep employees informed. The learning maps are 90 minute sessions where the employee learns about how their efforts fit into the greater company as a whole (https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherskroupa/2016/04/19/employee-engagement-in-the-digital-age/#228aabc73d45). Furthermore Nessing comments that she has seen positive results from the learning maps through methods such as culture surveys as well as improvements in safety performance. In addition companies can benefit by promoting employee engagement as an actual “accountability center” for managers, meaning that managers should be held responsible for assessing employee engagement and should also be evaluated on their ability to accomplish employee engagement. Employee engagement should be viewed as an actual measurable value that can assessed and managers need to be evaluated on their ability to succeed in this metric. Qualitatively the benefits are significant because if a company can integrate employee engagement as a success factor, managers who succeed in increasing employee engagement will receive better recognition in the form of bonuses, promotions, and employee recognition. There is also the notion tangentially related to employee engagement that employees experience increased satisfaction with increased autonomy according to an article by the University of Birmingham (https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2017/04/autonomy-workplace.aspx). When employees have the ability to exert flexibility in their work hours, work location, job tasks, and job pace it will translate into greater satisfaction. Taking a balanced scorecard approach, if a company can increase employee satisfaction this will lead to increased customer satisfaction, internal processes, financial performance, and employee growth and learning. Some of these concepts tie right back into the article written by Brian Solis because if employees can raise their satisfaction and freedom in the workplace, this might potentially free up change agents to perform transformative company behaviors, although care should be made in mentioning that employee satisfaction and employee engagement have similarities but are two different things. In regards to the impact of technology on employee engagement, David Westfall who is a senior director at Aon Hewitt has phrased it best when he comments that “Business models become more complex and we think technology is always the answer. At the end of the day, it is about the human being. If you are not engaging the human being- it doesn’t really matter” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherskroupa/2016/04/19/employee-engagement-in-the-digital-age/#228aabc73d45).

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