I want to start off by laying out two simple assumptions, or “givens” that should set the scene regarding the title above.
Assumption No. 1 — Employee engagement is good.
Assumption No. 2 — HR technology; specifically, application of the right HR technology is also important.
I probably don’t have to convince you that the first assumption is right. Countless studies, surveys, and observational and anecdotal evidence and experience generally support this basic business truism. We have pretty much bought into the fact that highly engaged employees provide more discretionary effort and higher productivity than neutral or disengaged employees.
I think we can agree on this one: Engagement or engaged staff=Good.
To take it a stage further, engaged, passionate and motivated staff = higher brand value = improved corporate performance = happier stakeholders.
As for the second assumption, while it’s perhaps a bit more difficult to prove, our experience generally tells us that staffing, organising, directing, compensating and otherwise efficiently administering to just about any workforce requires a pretty sizeable dose of technology. We also generally know that the wrong, old, clunky or “no fun to use” kinds of technology that we’ve all had to deal with at one point or another in our careers can be a pretty significant impediment to productivity.
I’m sure you’ve heard the complaints from staff, or from the employees you support: “Why doesn’t the system give me the reports I need?” or “Why can’t I do my team’s performance reviews on my iPad?” So, just ride with me on this one if you must: Technology=Important.
We’re together on this so far, right? So, if “Engagement=Good” and “Technology=Important,” then it must naturally follow that a technology solution that can impact or influence, or move the needle on engagement, must be both “good” and “important.” I’d also add “unusual.”
Traditionally, workplace technologies have been about record-keeping, managing defined processes, automating transactions, and keeping the lights on and the people paid. But there are some newer HR technologies that strive to break with that tradition and help organisations impact and improve engagement levels, influence and strengthen the connection employees have to the organisation (and each other), and — in the right circumstance — actually change the culture of a workplace.
Brownie Points is one such solution that has been developed to improve employee engagement through its recognition software. Recognition and rewards programs that organisations are now leveraging aim increase engagement levels and impact workplace culture in ways that most other HR technologies, such as human-resource-information and learning-management systems, never could.
Viewed really simply, Brownie Points is just a snappy-looking tool to allocate, track and facilitate the distribution of company awards — you know, the typical employment-anniversary gifts and occasional Myer gift cards handed out for jobs well done — and to provide a front end to some kind of merchandise catalogue and fulfillment process.
But, though the design and goals of organisations employee recognition and rewards programs have not been altered much over time, the available technologies to support them have changed dramatically. These changes — such as deployment as an online subscription-based service, a design geared toward the encouragement of employee adoption, a much more modern user experience than traditional workplace tools and, perhaps most importantly, an experience augmented with elements of popular external social networks (“liking,” “sharing,” “voting,” etc.) — significantly enhance the ability to transform recognition programs into powerful drivers of employee engagement and fundamental elements of organisational culture.
By making the process of peer or colleague recognition simple and fluid, to have these kinds of “recognition moments” be public and visible, and to consider recognition and rewards as part of daily work rather than just something to think about once in a while, one sees these tools as having a kind of unique potential among workforce technologies — they can really change the way an organisation works, and how people feel about working there.
We know employee engagement matters. We know it is sorely lacking in most organisations. And we know that technology can play a role in making a difference, in driving engagement, creating and strengthening connections, and actually changing the culture of a workplace.
There are not many other workplace technologies that can have a similar effect.
Tony Delaney, Brownie Points Pty Ltd