I attended a really interesting course this week which focused on workplace communication, specifically how body language can give certain impressions on a day-to-day basis.
Of course, the purpose was for me to improve my workplace communication skills, all the way down to the tiny behaviours that might be giving off certain vibes to colleagues. I took all that on board. But it also got me thinking about HR (as most things do, because that’s my entire job and life) and how an employee’s engagement and wellbeing could be monitored by tapping into these habits and behaviour patterns.
So I researched it a bit, mostly just out of sheer curiosity. I wanted to know how many other people had been using this method to monitor their staff. I found a wealth of articles and blogs about watching employees, all the way down to their eye movements, to monitor their happiness and wellbeing.
And then I thought, have we all lost our minds? We have mouths, don’t we? Why don’t we just ask them?
People analytics is becoming more tech-orientated, with wearable devices to monitor employee engagement and behaviour on the rise. It’s kind of ridiculous, though, when you could just be like ‘hey, how are you feeling about your job? How’s that assignment going? Do you need anything?’
How hard is that to do, really?
It’s definitely going to cost you less money than investing in all this pointless wearable gear.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a massive place for technology in HR – heck, I work for an HR tech company - but that place is to minimise the tasks that prevent us from engaging with our staff. Not to replace the engagement altogether.
Surely the digital age hasn’t regressed social communication to the point that we can’t just talk to our staff?
So, here it is - the only step you will ever need to find out if your employees are happy at work:
1. Ask them.
I’m not saying literally go up to them in the office and be like, ‘are you happy, Helen?’. That would probably come across creepy and weird.
But asking them how their day is going, how their tasks are getting along (in a non-pressurising manner) and how they’re feeling about their job overall can make a big difference. And you’re definitely going to be more on-the-mark than convincing yourself that they’re thinking about leaving because they looked at the ceiling three times in an hour.
Okay, admittedly it’s not always that easy. They aren’t always going to confide in you and tell you if they’ve got a problem, whether it be in work or at home. Probably if you come across this problem it’s because you’ve not been talking to them up until this point, and they don’t trust you. So even by asking them – whether they tell you or not – you’re one step closer to getting the answer and finding a solution.
If you want to understand your employees better, talk to them. Let them talk to you back. You’d be surprised the wonders it can reveal. And it’s really not that hard.