Career Confessions of Gen Z: Culture Conundrum- Employee Engagement Platforms

In 2019, we’re on the cusp of a frontier where an army of digital pioneers are laying claim to their stake in the exponentially advancing market of E-HRM. If you’ve sat in the HR department of any business, you’ll get what I’m talking about here. You’ll have found yourself answering a cold-call or ten from that salesperson who’s likely on their 67th attempt of the day, so you take pity and hear them out.

What they’re offering to you, is a miracle solution to the employee engagement woes that supposedly keep you up at night. An all singing, all dancing, cloud-based platform that will sky-rocket your employee engagement! But wait, its get’s better… All of this can be done at the flick of your finger, using cutting-edge algorithms and technologies that will automate the entire process!

From employee feedback to recognition, appraisals or organisational commitment, benchmarking & analytics, many engagement platforms really claim to automate it all, taking out the hard work for me and you. So why shouldn’t we cut a cheque and sign on the dotted line?

For baby-boomers and Generation Z alike, it’s easy to fall for the trappings of today’s technology that promises to streamline our lives both at work and at home. From Amazon’s Alexa to Musk’s self-driving car, it’s not hard to see how these gadgets are already permeating life faster than we know. However, some things, cannot be so easily automated just yet.

Truth be told, the automation of employee engagement sounds like the ultimate paradox to me; to the extent that it removes the integral element of authenticity. Any organisational culture worth its salt is value driven from the top down. Values that employees can align with, engage with and embody as they carry out their role. Online platforms & wired connections are nowhere near as powerful as the above, making the connection between real-life engagement and values, perhaps the most powerful disincentive for the excessive use of cure-all engagement platforms.

More importantly, an organisational culture of engagement and much of the meaning and satisfaction accrued from it, lies in our relationships with others. Indeed, there are elements of these online platforms that are social in nature, but I’d argue it limits the richness and authenticity of our interactions at work, keeping relationships at an all too comfortable distance.

Of course, I’d be ignorant to entirely discount the value of technological integration into employee engagement. For example, it certainly has its place in strategies and structures of organisational feedback and transparency. To a certain extent, even corporate social media platforms are now an undeniable force in shaping recognition and communication practices.

Nevertheless, to place the labyrinthine system of what makes a top-class engagement culture in the hands of automated algorithms, notifications and screens seems naïve and technologically premature. For platforms to claim they can automate it all whilst the everyday HR professional gets on with ‘the important stuff’ doesn’t do justice to the strategic importance nor the complexity of employee engagement in organisations today.

Josh Milton-Edwards is a fledgling HR professional mad about all things culture, engagement and wellbeing. I work for an award winning best-practice culture department based in the UK. Soaking up every last bit of the experience before completing my HRM degree in 2019/20. Aiming high and can’t wait to see what more opportunities arise for the taking!

3 thoughts on “Career Confessions of Gen Z: Culture Conundrum- Employee Engagement Platforms

  1. Great to be reminded that we are human beings with feelings that benefit from being acknowledged in the workplace.
    There is a place for technology as well.
    Use both and be respectful in all your dealings .

  2. Josh, terrific article! Here’s something to consider. EMployee data has been collected in various forms for decades. I am not aware of any research claiming that the abysmal results of EE/EX is the result of the data not being accurate. Leadership has ignored everything they didn’t like or didn’t want to deal with without ever mentioned the data wasn’t actionable. None of this will change because of some algorithm. The problem is that HR is not positioned to force anything to change that management isn’t interested in changing and the employees know this. Blaming the data for the lack of EE/EX results is like blaming the paintbrush for bad art.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.