It's not that you 'hate' your job. It's just not what you thought it would be.

Each Monday as you walk through the door, coffee in hand, you nod in acknowledgement to the rest of your team and get to work. Sometimes, John from Accounts stops by for a chat, other times Lindsay discusses her weekend. But they're not your friends, and you're at work. So that's exactly what you do.

On your way home you envisage winning the lottery and never working again. So you vent to your partner and friends, go for a run, and half-heartedly check similar jobs online.

Sound familiar? If so, you're not alone. In fact, you're in the majority. A recent Gallup poll reports a whopping 70% of employees are disengaged in the workplace. And that number is set to rise unless something drastic changes.

Problem is, the people who are in charge of making the workplace better are those battling against a lack of resources. Constrained by limited budgets and no buy-in from the board, CHROs are rendered impotent against poor feedback in annual surveys. In the end, nothing changes.

It's meant to be a new era for the workplace. But while a data-driven approach is positively impacting most other divisions, HR departments are just scraping by. Why? With a lack of real-time information in annual surveys, managers cannot be proactive, just reactive.

Annual surveys can be problematic. Employees are given an abundance of questions all in one go, and told that answering them will help to better the workplace and instigate change. So what is the problem?

Collating the feedback can take weeks, if not months, and acting on the problemed areas can take even longer. Given how often millennials change jobs, most may answer one or two surveys over the course of their tenure at a company and witness little to no changes.

It is not entirely HR's fault; it's outside of their control. By contrast, marketing and sales functions are only as good as the tools that service them and make them more efficient. Take Salesforce and Linkedin away from a modern salesperson, and you have drastically limited their productivity. For an HR team that's limited to feedback from annual surveys, and an out-of-date data sample, it's evident where the problem lies.

As a result, HR spends more time and effort relying on gut-feeling, rather than working with tools that actually facilitate their jobs. Unlike CMOs and CFOs, who can back up their business cases with data-driven arguments, CHROs are confined to sweeping statements and archaic feedback. The result, more often than not, is no budget, and no change.

Employee engagement is a business case in itself. But it's not uncommon for those tasked with its implementation to have a hard time demonstrating its worth with robust facts and figures. The reality is, employee engagement has a huge impact on a business' bottom line, if carried out well. Highly engaged companies show 37% fewer sick days, 30% higher productivity and 2.5x customer satisfaction. But half the battle is just getting your senior management to the starting line.

The solution is to make it simple. Dan Rogers, co-founder of employee engagement platform Peakon, says boosting employee engagement takes continuous listening.

"The goal is to create tangible improvements to employee engagement and retention. Managers can't be blamed for having a disengaged staff when they don't have the tools or guidance to create an effective workforce," says Rogers. "Many managers are promoted from domain experts, and are not advised how to recognise disengagement in staff. Or more importantly, how to rectify the situation."

For many, holding managers accountable can be a scary thing, especially for the managers themselves. But this new level of transparency can also be liberating. It not only identifies the key areas of improvement, but makes way for a greater level of recognition for managers who may not always be noticed.

This enhanced level of accountability can benefit a business, if correctly carried out. Putting the onus on employees and managers, and not just making up the numbers, is an approach that reaps rewards. But it requires a sidestep from the status quo- a daunting thought for many.

But with good reason. The level of feedback that regular surveying generates far surpasses that of an annual survey. Unlike the annual snapshot view, which can be skewed by mood, pulse surveys create a far broader picture of the issues at play. By asking employees for feedback on a weekly or monthly basis, companies increase the reliability of results, and gain a greater return.

With a reduction in time between feedback and meaningful results - and minus in consultancy costs - firms will be one step closer to understanding their people and transforming their culture.

Your company's employees are the key to problem-solving, so hearing their views can be game-changing. As Rogers says, "your employees are the closest to the problems, and therefore the best people to help you solve them. Collectively, their understanding of a business far exceeds that of senior leadership, and it's vital that leaders remember that."

Consider testing new HR technology solutions that can help you better understand your employees. There's an abundance of engagement solutions that can help you refine your processes and make your life easier. If possible, create a mind-map or a general overview of the tools available, and compare their offerings to the gaps in your business.

Employee engagement isn't something you can ignore. The workplace needs to change, and fast. The war for talent is at an all-time high, with more generations in the workplace than ever before, it could well be the difference between mediocrity and success.

Published on: Jun 14, 2017