The employer-employee relationship is changing. We now expect much more from our employers. From #MeToo to equal pay, workplace issues have been a dominant theme in the media over the past year, and building trusted relationships with employees has never been more important. Businesses are clear on the need to build trust with their customers, but they also need to look closer to home and work on their internal culture, because without it meeting customer expectations will be impossible. Linda Aiello, Senior Vice President, International Employee Success, Salesforce, elaborates on the key fundamentals to maximising employee engagement.
There is no single definitive approach to building employee engagement, and of course employee satisfaction is a constantly evolving target that requires nurturing and attention. But by combining culture, technology and data, businesses can start to create a workforce culture that is rooted in empathy and prioritises employee experience, and therefore drive engagement.
Workplace culture is often the driving factor in determining the performance and therefore the success of many organisations, and when done right, it can be the selling point of businesses to prospective employees. The environment that your employees work in will profoundly impact their quality and attitude to work, so it’s definitely worth getting this right. An ecosystem of trust and satisfaction should be built from the bottom up within an organisation so that all feel included in this culture, rather than a top-down culture which can come across as an imposition on employees.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, the rewards of building trust in the workplace are great. Employees who have trust in their employer are far more likely to engage in beneficial actions on their behalf—they will become advocates of the business, and remain far more loyal and committed. An investment in employee trust is also an investment in your bottom line: 78% of respondents in the Barometer this year agree that how a company treats its employees is one of the best indicators of its level of trustworthiness. 67% of them expect employers to take action on social issues, with many rating this as high as expectations of personal empowerment (74%) and job opportunity (80%).
This expectation also extends to issues around the future of work. As evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence begin to automate and disrupt jobs, companies need to build a culture of trust with employees to reassure them that no one will be left behind by the demands of new job roles. As part of this, organisations must be open and transparent with their employees.
Companies owe it to their staff to support and care for them: employees are, after all, their most valuable asset. Doing so gives employees the confidence to speak up, share their have ideas and be more productive. Good things happen when people feel they are trusted and can bring their best to jobs, and it’s even more important that they have the space to do so in a hyper-competitive world where companies need to maximise every ounce of human potential to get ahead. Cultures must be intentional, not an afterthought.
At Salesforce, our culture is built on the Hawaiian concept of Ohana, which means “family”. This is the intersection of our people, values and our actions which creates a culture of inclusivity and a space where all feel safe. Everything we do comes through this belief and extends to our customers, partners and shareholders.
Companies also need the right tools in place to engage their workforce. This could come from apps and other tools that allow employees to collaborate in real-time basis, helping cut out endless meetings and emails, as well as enabling employees to find the information they need quickly. At Salesforce, we use our customer-facing technologies to build better tools for our employees. Our employee apps that we’ve specifically built are a great example of this. They provide employees with instant answers and help on the go, manage their performance and feedback, connect them to teammates, and most importantly take care of themselves, their families and their communities.
We are now more connected than ever before and so it is completely counterproductive for companies to not be using the tools and technology they have available to them. Technology can not only be used to connect employees but also to aid in developing their skills and allow staff to take control of their own training and future. Salesforce, for example, has its own free, gamified online learning platform, Trailhead, which encourages reskilling and upskilling. When employees are able to grow and learn along with a company, satisfaction and engagement will come hand in hand with this.
As employees engage with these tools more often, organisations receive more data on the employee that can be easily aggregated, analysed and displayed so business leaders can make smarter and more personalised decisions about the workplace. The insights from this data have allowed us to evolve from a traditional model of human resources into a more effective and innovative employee-centric environment.
Data can also be harnessed from regular employee surveys to assess how staff truly feel about the company and the work they do. When asked the hard-hitting, important questions, companies can gain invaluable insight into what is working and what is not. Salesforce has found in particular that these surveys have greatly improved the psychological safety of the workplace as a whole.
Ultimately, this isn’t just about keeping employees happy and engaged. Trust and values are how businesses can thrive. High trust cultures are high performing cultures, and when employees are respected, they’ll reciprocate. This is the key to sustainable businesses.