Employee engagement is a real issue for employers, with recent research showing that the UK has the highest proportion of actively disengaged workers in Europe.

It’s an issue organisations urgently need to tackle, given the body of evidence showing a strong link between engagement and overall company performance. Engage For Success research has shown, for example, that companies with high engagement scores frequently report lower staff turnover, higher customer satisfaction and better profit levels than their lower-ranked competitors.

HR teams tasked with improving engagement often turn to staff surveys to help them pick up on the issues that are leading to dissatisfaction. It’s also common to see a raft of initiatives being introduced to improve communication, support career development or give employees more of a voice. But one area companies often overlook is the contribution automated HR systems can make to improving engagement levels.

employees working around a desk

It may sound counter-intuitive, and of course the human element in any engagement effort is key, but technology can have a significant impact at key stages of the employee lifecycle.

1. Recruitment

An employee’s perception of the business starts from their very earliest contact at the recruitment stage. First impressions count, and potential new hires will start to form opinions about what it will be like to work for an employer, based on the ease of the recruitment process and the way they are treated as candidates. Recruitment software can do much to streamline the hiring process, making sure applicants are communicated with well throughout, with timely notifications of interviews or assessments and feedback on the success or otherwise of their applications. First impressions can be hard to shift, so getting it right from the outset is key.

2. Onboarding

At a time when competition for talent is intense, the last thing an organisation wants to do is lose a good candidate somewhere between acceptance of a job offer and the starting date. A recent Cezanne HR survey identified that organisations frequently suffer from ‘non-starter’ syndrome, with nearly two-thirds of HR professionals saying they have had new recruits quit before they even join. Poor onboarding processes are a key factor, with non-starters citing poor or no communication with the business as a factor in their decision to bail. Onboarding Software can help overcome this issue by ensuring candidates are communicated with regularly in the lead-up to joining, and have access to the documents and information they need to keep them enthused and ensure a seamless start.

3. Performance Management and career development

A good performance management process plays a massive part in employee engagement. It’s an opportunity for line managers to really get to know what makes their people tick, what they might be struggling with and what support or training they may need. If employees feel their concerns are being listened to and their career aspirations are being taken into account, they are much more likely to remain enthusiastic and productive in their roles. Sadly, performance management is often given low priority, or treated as a box-ticking exercise, by hard-pressed managers. Performance management software helps to underline the importance of regular appraisals or check-ins, nudging managers when discussions are due, providing templates to help guide conversations and offering a central place where discussions and actions can be recorded and easily accessed including those about future development and career opportunities.

4. Return to work

Coming back to work after maternity leave, an extended period off sick or a sabbatical can be a confusing and anxious time for employees. They may be concerned that their skills have become out of date, that people and processes will have changed and that they will find it hard to fit back in. A centralised HR system can help to ease the transition, making key policies and documents easily accessible and providing a central point for information about everything from IT support to Employee Assistance Programmes. Some HR systems also come with internal portals, where employees can connect with others, find out about projects they could get involved with or get quick answers to questions.

5. Relocation and promotion

Moving to a new regional or overseas base, or shifting to a remote working arrangement, can also be bewildering or unsettling for employees. There are new processes to learn, new colleagues to connect with – or in the case of dispersed workers, a big adjustment to be made in how to keep up to speed with what’s happening and communicate with colleagues. A good HR software system can support the move by putting key information at the employees’ fingertips, while self-service functionality will make it easy for people to manage their own data and deal with personal admin, such as logging holidays and sick leave, from wherever they may be.

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.

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