Today’s post comes to us from Americas board member Dennis Miller, Chief Employment Officer at Cal Poly Pomona Foundation.

While enhancing employee engagement in any organization is a valuable endeavor – especially when organizations are effectively measuring valued business outcomes directly related to employee engagement – there is something I see all too often in the public sector, which I view as an obvious barrier to employee engagement.

During the last decade there have been about 60 or so bankruptcies of public entities in the U.S. While there are no doubt many distinct reasons for these particular bankruptcies, one common thread a colleague and myself found through one-on-one phone interviews was that 60% of them still used paper timesheets. Further, the tone and inflection I heard from those who stated they used paper timesheets was quite telling. It sounded to me like the person answering the question was a little embarrassed.

What this indicates to me is that a barrier for many organizations to achieving higher levels of employee engagement is failing to evolve the basic processes surrounding employee and/or manager tasks, such as time keeping.

If your organization has a desire to explore the benefits of increased employee engagement, it must first remove the most obvious barriers. Companies can begin by leveraging technology to transact time and attendance, and then exploring the use of technology for all of the common tasks an employee will experience starting from the time they apply for a job, to the time they leave the company, and everything in between – the complete employment life-cycle.

Failing to use technology for the most basic of employee transactions is definitely an obvious barrier toward enhancing employee engagement. And, as we can observe, generally, from the public entities that have experienced bankruptcy during the last decade, while any company that ends in a bankruptcy has resulted from a series of complex issues to be sure, it is not exactly a stretch of the imagination to consider that any organization which fails to use technology for basic things like time and attendance, can and will experience bigger issues that ultimately may result in broad and deep negative impacts to the company.

Stated differently, when the smaller opportunities to improve are missed or delayed for long periods of time, those decisions often lead to missing bigger opportunities as well, and that can end badly for any organization.

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2 thoughts on “An Obvious Barrier to Employee Engagement

  1. Dennis is right and I think it’s easy for managers to under-estimate the impact of out-of-date software on the employee experience. The user experience (we don’t even call it the user interface any more) has improved so much since the advent of the iPhone that expectations have skyrocketed. Software that may have seemed perfectly fine in 2000 can almost feel “insulting” (I can’t think of a better word) today–especially is you are under 30 and don’t remember the bad old days.

  2. Well put Dennis! The barrier you describe about can also impact the recruitment of new employees. I know if there was a company I was considering applying to for employment and I found out they had paper time cards it would raise serious questions for me. For instance, if the company is still using paper time-cards, why? Will they have the money available for the most basic tools to complete the job if they are not willing to invest in this type of basis tech? I honestly doubt I would even consider working at a company that is not willing to evolve and support its employees. Not to mention your points around employee engagement.

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