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To Spark Real Employee Engagement, Choose Your HR Tech Wisely

On June 28, Paycom and I are collaborating on a webinar about engagement that everyone needs to attend. Why? Because we’re at a standstill in terms of employee engagement, and we’re going to be looking at the most effective ways to break out of it. We’re going past the concept of employee experience to exactly what experiences add up to engagement. The right HR tech includes those experiences as part of its functionality — so it’s optimizing employee engagement every time it’s utilized.

Here’s what we know: Every interface and every touch point either has a positive or a negative impact on the user experience. Judging from recent statistics on engagement, that impact is more on the negative end of the spectrum. Only 34 percent of U.S. employees are engaged, and despite our best efforts, that rate hasn’t trended up since 2014, according to Gallup.

Still, HR tech has been rolling out solutions — and companies have been adopting them — with increasing frequency. Since we started locating work functions in the cloud-based digital space, there are more options than ever for talent management. Kudos for companies getting on the streamlined, cloud-based bandwagon — it’s the right move. But now we need to utilize those tools in a way that pushes that statistic higher. Here’s how.

Make Sure the Tech Will Get Used

One of the key disconnects is that it’s enough to just get the new platform or program — the “If you build it, they will come construct.” It’s not enough. The tech should be more than user-friendly. It should invite usage.

Make Sure the Tech Saves Your Managers Time

Some companies still wind up doing a lot of HR functions manually, such as filling in employee data or creating reports. That requires a substantial investment of time, preempting valuable person-to-person interactions, keeping your managers facing screens instead of their people. Distracted managers create disengaged employees. Look for tech that can effectively take over, automating your core HR functions while providing managers with the full visibility they need.

Look for Tech That Covers All the Bases

The more comprehensive your HR solution, the easier it will be to use it — and generate data from different functions. Look for tech that can help with everything from hiring to onboarding to payroll and management as well as a central database and powerful analytics. It should feel like the backbone of management, not a sidecar.

Choose Tech That Activates Employees

When HR tech is self-service, employees can utilize it when and where they want to. Time-management options, schedule-exchange elements and more enable employees to work more closely with their managers and colleagues, and track any adjustments or shift switches so managers don’t have to. Learning and development, goal-setting — there are so many arenas where employees want to be able to log on and get going on their own. For a great look at the power of self-service HR, see Paycom’s white paper on self-service technology.

Opt for Seamless Solutions

When we consider the tech we use from a consumer standpoint, one thing that doesn’t work is clutter. We all prefer seamless solutions that save time and energy. That goes double for employees, who depend on the tech we provide them with to get their work done. At this point in the digital evolution, employees expect tech to provide a seamless, smooth, and uniform employee experience. If they have to download different apps for every function, that’s a tangible negative. For instance, if you use one company for general HR needs, one for payroll, another for benefits, and another for time and attendance, are they all on different platforms? You may have a big problem with getting your employees to use those apps. We’re all consumers at some level, so this isn’t a hard concept to imagine. (If you need a good metaphor, consider Amazon.)

Paycom has also found that 50 percent of companies who buy HR tech don’t fully utilize the products they buy, costing them in dollars, time and something else valuable: engagement. Millennial and Gen Z employees expect to be able to take care of their working needs — and interface with HR — online, and the prevailing work culture assumes a digital as well as a physical environment.

So, what does it mean to have the means to provide a digitally driven, cloud-based employee experience and yet not be doing so? It may be even worse than not having digital capability at all. But here’s the good news: The opposite holds just as true. Having robust HR tech that activates employees to make it part of their daily work, frees up your managers and tracks automatically is a powerful catalyst for everyone, providing great experiences and unleashing great performance.

Register for our June 28 webinar to continue to conversation.

Blog Author: Meghan Biro

Like most people who gravitate toward HR, Meghan loves people. Early in her career, Meghan realized she was a rare people person who understood tech. As a high tech recruiter, Meghan worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage startups to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google. Meghan founded TalentCulture in 2008 to lead a conversation about the future of work with her peers in HR and leadership. These days, she is consistently included in lists of top online influencers and writes about HR tech and talent management at, and a variety of other media outlets. Her career background spans recruiting, tech, marketing, branding and digital media. As an HR tech analyst, author and brand strategist, Meghan is sought after for her ideas about the future of work, is a regularly featured speaker at global business conferences, and serves on boards for leading HR and technology brands.