Frontline Intelligence: Technology - People technology for employee engagement

by 26 Nov 2012

This month Nick Southcombe tackles a question about how technology can boost employee engagement over the long run.


Our employee engagement initiatives focus on rewards and recognition. While they showed some initial improvement we have been disappointed with their overall success. How can we boost employee engagement for the long run?



Employee engagement is the HR buzzword many of us have heard but very few professionals get right. While rewards and recognition programs have gone some way in establishing engaged workforces, it is the overall workplace culture and communications that should be the main focus of engagement programs. So how do you treat individuals as individuals while also putting in place a larger framework for company culture? The answer is HR technology.

People technology

One of the common misconceptions around employee engagement is that technological systems for efficiency and communication make the workplace impersonal. Employee engagement is associated with happy, communicative and collaborative environments, while technology is often associated with putting a number on a person and isolating them in their work. While this may have been true of the past, emerging technologies prove, more than ever, innovations lead to human interaction and convenience in the workplace.

As HR professionals, creating a healthy, cooperative working environment for engaged employees is a crucial aim. Modern HR technology has come a long way in establishing the tools your organisation can use to promote these qualities in both your workforce and leadership. Communication, accountability and information are the three key elements to employee engagement; HR technology is fast becoming the only choice for unlocking all three in your workplace.

Top down engagement

Research shows engagement flows from leadership down to employees. For any engagement initiative to be successful it’s essential you have buy-in from top level leadership. Involving high-level management in engagement programs is made easier by additional benefits delivered through HR technology. These are the decision-makers that want workforce visibility, metrics and measurable ROI, deploying an engagement program leveraging HR technology delivers all of this to your organisation’s executives.

Empower your people

Employees spend 20-30% of their working time on personal issues, such as leave approval, pay queries and training requests. This takes your employees away from value-add activities and causes stress when responses are delayed. Your employees don’t want to waste this time and would appreciate the opportunity to have personal matters resolved upfront and early. Employee Self Service is the perfect tool for eliminating time waste, empowering your employees and increasing organisational transparency. Not only does this save your organisation and your employee time, it also conveys that vital ‘Someone cares!’ message to your staff.

Your organisation needs to ask if its existing HR operations allow employees to:


  • View and update personal data online
  • View their job description (JD) and responsibilities online
  • View career path with links to successive positions with information on required skills and competencies
  • View and apply for vacant positions
  • View set goals and performance targets
  • View personal reports and performance appraisals
  • Access HR Helpdesk online
  • Access Information Kiosks (for employees without personal computers)
  • View and apply for training programs


If you don’t have all or at least most of these functions, there’s some good news. There’s untapped productivity in your workforce that can be accessed with an HR technology solution.

Involvement drives engagement, so it makes sense that greater visibility motivates employees to get onboard. Technology is the vehicle that can deliver greater self-direction to your staff and greater communication throughout your organisation. With the right implementation and leadership buy-in, HR technology can make engagement a ‘way of life’ in your organisation.


About the author

Nick Southcombe is General Manager, Frontier Software. (03) 9639 0777;



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