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How Employee Engagement Sits at the Heart of Digital Transformation

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Talking Employee Engagement at the Future Talent Summit

June 19th 2019, CEO and Founder of Avature, Dimitri Boylan, took to the stage to give a talk at the Future Talent Summit, the foremost global gathering of leaders dedicated to improving human talent opportunity and capability. During this talk, he spoke about the future of talent and how employee engagement, the HR transformation process and an organization’s adjoining technologies will make the difference between winning and losing in the current climate. Below we explore some of the key themes covered.

How Digital Transformation Comes After Talent Transformation

Many organizations are trying to evolve to stay competitive and are pegging their hopes on digital transformation. This in many ways is seen as a readymade solution for challenging the disruption the market is experiencing at the moment.

What is missing from this conversation, however, are the components needed for digital transformation to be effective. Components so vital, that if they are not in place, digital transformation becomes much like buying a brand new car without an engine; the body of the car is nice and shiny but will remain stationary if there isn’t something there to power it.

The engine in this analogy is talent transformation. This not only embodies the agile HR technology and the acquisition of senior leadership but the development of a culture that gives all its employees licence to creatively drive the organization forward.

Investing in culture and employee experience, therefore, is now widely recognized as a commercial imperative as the standout performers that transform organizations will almost exclusively stem from the most empowered and engaged employees. Providing a platform for employee human spirit to thrive is only going to make an organization more competitive.

How Human Are Your Resources and Are They Improving Employee Engagement?

The way people are currently managed is outdated. What we have now comes from the industrial revolution. The idea that one person comes up with the idea and then the rest of the people just come in and do the work simply isn’t effective with the current generation. Somewhere along the line they have been taught to be creative and company cultures should be adapting to this if they want to hire and retain the best talent”

— Dimitri Boylan

The issue facing many workplaces and operating models at the moment is that the way people are managed is outdated. The common current workplace and adjoining business strategy is a product of the industrial revolution which characteristically uses the command-and-control approach to drive an efficiency model. This means it focuses less on empowering employees to increase output and develop, and more on a top-down diktat to streamline existing processes and chip away at the bottom line.

The use of technology often reflects this because, for many years, it has only been seen as a means to drive efficiency. This is an undeniable benefit of technology, but certainly not its most valuable use. As a result of this model, employee engagement is faltering. According to Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report, eighty-five percent of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work. As this issue is systematic, until these systems change, neither will the attitudes of the employee.

To improve on this we need to stop building company structures that restrict employees and start creating environments that allow them to thrive and bring their best selves to work. Allowing an employee to be authentic not only sparks creativity but promotes diversity and will almost certainly lead to better employee performance.

Nurturing a Culture of Innovation Through Employee Engagement

Many organizations often point at technology as being responsible for market disruption or the loss of their market share. However, technology in itself is not the disrupter, technology is merely a tool. What really lies at the heart of this disruption is a culture of innovation, at the epicenter of which is the talent, garnered to create value through technology.

The power of culture in disrupting the market therefore cannot be underestimated. Culture has the power to induce commitment, intent, cooperation and learning. Even if you have done the hard work to source and hire the best talent to drive transformation, without a strong culture to nurture their potential, it is as good as not having them at all.

For Dimitri then, it is important to walk the walk so does everything he can to enable a progressive culture and encourage employees. An essential element of this is creation; bright employees that have the ability and expertise to come up with creative solutions for clients’ needs are empowered to do so. This nurturing of intuition and human spirit subsequently gives Avature the opportunity to be agile.

The Importance of Being Agile and What Does It Mean?

The concept of being agile is so commonly used that it can often end up being disregarded as a hollow buzzword. This makes it vital to define what it actually means for you. Agility in Avature’s case is achieved through a platform release cycle of every two weeks with feedback and new developments being continuously incorporated.

This includes building code as and when it’s needed. All these small steps keep the platform relevant allowing it to adapt and react to market demands, allowing space for employees to exercise continuous creativity. This would not be possible in a command and control environment.

Too often technology is still seen exclusively as a tool to implement standardization and control. Off the back of this, platforms and products are being created for human resources teams striving for uniformity across markets.

In principle, you can see the logic, but it is clear that markets such as the US, China, Germany and the UK simply do not operate in the same way. Shouldn’t we be using technology to adapt to market requirements, not forcing the market to adapt to the technology? It is certainly capable and powerful enough to do so.

This is why for Avature it is so important to provide one centralized system that can then be easily adjusted to the local needs and processes of different markets. Built into this are a range of language recognition and translation tools that can automatically understand and adapt to different languages, which alleviates admin and makes time for more valuable and engaging work.

There has to be a greater trust in people’s ability to think and to act with their intuition and their knowledge. If you don’t create that trust and if you don’t let people bring everything that the human person brings to the table, they are not going to compete.”

–Dimitri Boylan

Becoming a Disruptor of the Future After a Talent Transformation

As we are in the midst of the digital revolution, it is important not to separate digital transformation with those who are driving it. Effective leadership is not about top-down commands but about empowerment, creativity and responsibility. The talent platform you have in place to attract and retain this workforce should reflect that.

Giving employees the flexibility to create their own tools that adapt to the market they operate in will not only keep the best talent engaged, but can drive your organization to be more competitive. Ultimately an organization with a culture that nurtures value will, in turn, become a valuable organization that can compete with or, more importantly, become a disruptor of the future.

You can watch a snippet of the original presentation here, or discover another interview with Dimitri on the topic of talent transformation here.

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