Study: Employers’ Failure to Adopt Tech Trends May Damage Engagement

Expanding beyond ‘old school’ communication methods likely to improve employee satisfaction

By Aliah D. Wright Jun 30, 2015
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Not using new technologies to communicate with your workforce can be bad for employee satisfaction—particularly among younger generations, says a new study from theEMPLOYEEapp.

The 2015 Mobile Trends in the Workplace survey, conducted among more than 200 U.S.-based employees, also found that 68 percent of Millennial and Generation X workers said the frequency of communications from their employer directly impacts their job satisfaction, and 62 percent said that so do the methods that employers use to communicate. According to research from the Brookings Institute, by 2020, Millennials will make up more than one in three adult Americans. They will make up as much as 75 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2025.

Nearly 45 percent of those responding to theEMPLOYEEapp survey said that their employer does not do a sufficient job communicating information, and one-third (33 percent) said they would like their employer to communicate more.

“Communications is a critical component of overall engagement, and many employers are not doing an adequate job in this regard,” said Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of theEMPLOYEEapp, a secure messaging application platform that allows any organization to have its own app on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

“When paired with data from the Gallup organization’s State of the American Workplace report that found that employers are losing billions due to poor employee engagement, it can be concluded that companies need to develop not only proactive communications programs, but also innovative ones that appeal to and are consistent with the needs of their workforce’s demographics,” Corbin said.

Gallup’s report found that 70 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged at work, costing the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

“These employees are emotionally disconnected from their companies and may actually be working against their employers' interests; they are less productive, are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their co-workers, miss workdays and drive customers away,” the Gallup report stated.

According to theEMPLOYEEapp survey, “ ‘old school’ communications tools remain the primary method for internal communications: 89 percent of companies communicate via e-mail; 80 percent communicate in person; and 50 percent use the telephone. On the digital front, only 32 percent of those surveyed said their employer communicates with them via a corporate intranet; 24 percent by SMS/text messages; 10 percent via mobile applications; and 8 percent with social collaboration tools.”

Some 30 percent of respondents said they ignore their employer’s e-mails.

Corbin added, “Half of the respondents to theEMPLOYEEapp survey identified themselves as part of the Millennial or Gen X generations. And it is well-established that these groups are growing and will constitute the vast majority of the workforce in the coming years.

“Since these individuals grew up with a cellphone in their hand and are accustomed to having instantaneous access to information, communications solutions like mobile apps, social collaboration and messaging tools need be considered if a company is serious about engaging with its employees.”

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM. You can reach her via Twitter @1SHRMScribe or facebook.com/aliahwrites.

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