How to Engage
Using AI

How to Engage Employees… Using AI

5 years ago · 5 min read

When I hired my first employee at Zen Media (then known as Marketing Zen) more than ten years ago, I had a few thoughts on what would attract the best to join us.

The first? Allow remote work. I believe in the power of a virtual office and didn’t think set hours at a desk translated to productivity. This especially rang true as we served clients globally. Our clients in Hong Kong didn’t care about our conference room. They did care about the quality of our work.

Second—offer them an opportunity to work at the cutting edge of digital marketing. I’d done my graduate thesis on social media just a short time earlier, and no one was taking the medium seriously yet. It’s not uncommon for me to hear from past employees who have gone on to do ever more exciting things because of their experiences at Zen.

Third—no jerks allowed. That’s a rule I had at the beginning and I’ve stuck to ever since. We don’t hire them, and we don’t work with them.

Now, I knew I wanted my employees to be happy in their job and feel supported in every aspect of their work.

But I didn’t know much about “employee engagement” when I first started the company. The term hadn’t even yet fully emerged.

Today, that picture is very different.

Employee engagement is a critical concern for companies that want to attract and retain the best talent, and a whole suite of AI (artificial intelligence) led companies have come to market to tackle this issue.

Why is employee engagement so important? 

Employee engagement, or B2E—business-to-employer—marketing, as it’s sometimes called, involves fostering an employee’s sense of loyalty to their employer and investment in their organization’s success.

Engaged employees have higher productivity, a lower rate of turnover, and a higher rate of happy customers, as this Gallup study reports. They help their companies make bigger profits, and are more satisfied in both their work and home lives.

What’s more, Millennial workers simply expect to be highly engaged at work.

We heard this directly when we conducted our proprietary research into the connected consumer.

Similar to the connected consumer, connected employees want to work for companies that share their values and are authentically living them out. Companies, on their side, have noticed this—and that’s why employee engagement services are on the rise.

So, why does it fall by the wayside? 

Most companies value their employees, so why does it seem like employee engagement often takes a backseat? Competing commitments, changing priorities, and scalability are just some of the reasons companies struggle with meaningful employee engagement initiatives. The solution to this struggle may lie in the rise of AI and automation.

What do these new employee-engagement AI-led products look like? 

There’s a huge range of products out there designed to help employers give employees the fulfilling, loyalty-inducing work experience they crave.

One of those is 15Five. This continuous performance management software asks employees to spend 15 minutes each week answering a set of questions, which the manager or supervisor can then review inside of five minutes. And if you’re not entirely sure what kinds of questions you should be asking, 15Five’s algorithms will guide you.

These weekly check-ins allow the supervisor to monitor team morale, spot any culture problems as they’re developing, and coach employees one-on-one as needed.

Another interesting and up and coming company is InvolveSoft. Using an Instagram-like interface, InvolveSoft facilitates communication on everything from performance, to corporate volunteer opportunities, throughout dispersed workforces.

Managers, team leaders, and others are able to create content—whether that be around event opportunities, gamification-style performance boosts, or team development programs—and share it throughout the entire organization or with specific teams. This not only widens the communication net but also ensures that team members see content that is relevant to them.

I recently spoke with InvolveSoft co-founder Saumya Bhatnagar about the platform and how her company is helping companies to retain their talent.

“The InvolveSoft system as a whole is being used to identify process breaks, missed opportunities and friction points in the overall organization,” she says. “The content produced through the system can be effectively used as a brand strategy to increase talent attraction as well as employee NPS (Net Promoter Score) which is a significant marker for retention.”

As someone who’s deep inside this employee experience space, Saumya also shared some insights into the industry as a whole. “This space of engagement and people analytics is growing very fast. We are a hundred percent focused on growth right now, trying to learn from every use-case and make our system stronger and more accurate.”

Employee engagement programs are no longer a luxury—they’re a necessity. But, how do we tackle this as business leaders at scale without sacrificing other initiatives? These AI led products may just be the answer you are looking for.