It is impossible for an organization to fulfill its purpose without engaged employees who feel connected and heard. Organizations need to reconsider how they interact with employees and how they foster a culture in which people can use their voices openly. If companies are not actively listening to employees, issues in the workplace go unresolved and whole groups of people, departments, and teams can become isolated, leading to low engagement.
As a starting point, companies must understand how employees feel about their work lives. This can prove a challenging task when the workforce reaches far and wide, as is often the case in a hybrid working model. But technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) can play an important role in helping organizations gather and analyze data to understand employee sentiment. It also helps to keep a finger on the pulse of employee wellbeing because part of having an engaged workforce depends on employee physical and mental health.
At Genpact, we use an AI-powered chatbot, Amber, as our cultural assistant to periodically poll employees about their day-to-day workload and experiences, reactions to policy changes, new initiatives, or questions for leaders to discuss at upcoming meetings.
Addressing burnout, isolation, and mental health
One of the most valuable aspects of using AI to measure employee sentiment and wellbeing is the speed at which organizations can respond to information. Traditional surveys or focus groups can take weeks or even months to generate insights, but AI-powered solutions can produce actionable findings in minutes and can quickly identify issues – such as burnout, fatigue, or policy adherence – while they're nascent and act on them before they cause lasting harm.
For example, at the height of the pandemic, one of the most common issues facing many members of the workforce was isolation. For many employees, productivity during the pandemic increased but at the expense of the team camaraderie that is typical in a traditional office setting.
Many managers didn't recognize when employees felt isolated in a remote-work setting. Leadership and managerial roles, by nature, tend to be highly collaborative. Even in a remote environment, managers are interacting with their teams, clients, and partners daily. They may have a hard time understanding that elsewhere in the organization, people who work as individual contributors can feel isolated in a purely remote setting because their roles may not have as many natural points of collaboration.
This is the kind of feedback that companies need to gather continuously – and prepare to respond to quickly – to help avert low employee morale and high attrition rates.
Tools that allow companies to measure employee sentiment are also important for understanding how employees perceive various internal initiatives or even external global trends and their impact on culture.
For instance, workplace analytics can provide insights into emerging, situational trends, such as women and women of color withdrawing from the workplace since the pandemic.3
"Technology is available to help organizations understand how declining numbers of women in the workplace and a lack of diversity in general impacts employee connections and company culture," says Jesse Murray, employee experience leader at Rightpoint, a Genpact company. "Use of technology in this way is a critical – and underutilized – tool in building cultures that endure, and we are seeing more and more companies embrace this idea."