Cloud-based HR revolutionizes employee engagement

Originally posted January 27, 2014 by Henry Albrecht on http://ebn.benefitnews.com

It’s undeniable – cloud-based technologies have fundamentally changed how businesses operate. As employers transition from on- to off-premise for HRIS, they are seeing increased productivity and profitability in the obvious ways: lower up-front costs, faster innovation, easier integration, and no nasty upgrade hassles. It’s quite possible, however, that a less-obvious HR cloud revolution may prove to be even more meaningful – one that is more about people and culture.

This revolution, led by firms who bring a consumer-like experience and an understanding of the value of social connections at work, is helping build employer brands, improve engagement, and increase productivity and profits. It is ushering collaboration, innovation, and transparency in new ways. Here are three ways this revolution can change company culture:

1. The cloud allows for employee-driven collaboration and innovation at a new scale. This is particularly powerful with new tools like Brainstorm, created by financial software company Intuit. Brainstorm fosters employee innovation by allowing employees around the world to collaborate on new ideas, from small changes in process to large-scale, innovative business ideas. First created to spark innovation and cross-team collaboration, the tool helped Intuit generate a 1,000% increase in documented new ideas and a 500% increase in innovation in only a few short years. Within this new frontier for employee engagement and innovation, HR teams can also now easily identify the most innovative employees and support their growth.

Since its development a few years ago, the tool has expanded as a way for Intuit to foster inter-company collaboration, such as solving shared problems between themselves and the Red Cross. And after a partner asked Intuit to license Brainstorm, the company realized how valuable the software could be for other enterprises. Now, companies like General Electric and Lockheed Martin are using the tool with great success.

2. The cloud increases executive visibility of employee happiness.Historically, layers of reporting and infrastructure hindered executive visibility of everything from finances, operations, and even employee satisfaction. While financial and operational reporting does exists, (albeit expensive and often on-premise due to security) gauging employee morale at regular and consistent intervals has proven to be much more difficult.

Cloud-based technologies now allow for a new layer of instant visibility and transparency. TINYhr, a Seattle-based company, createdTINYpulse to collect employee feedback in one-question (i.e., “tiny”) weekly surveys. The instant feedback gives company leaders a constant pulse on employee happiness, so they can quickly (and cost-effectively) identify major issues along with superstar employees who can lead morale.

3. The cloud elevates the social power of community. Traditional employee wellness programs have been limited to one-time biometric screenings, sporadic events, or one-to-one or one-to-many communications.Cloud-based solutions open the door for many-to-many connections, fostering broad, social employee engagement versus individual task completion. Gamification, points systems, and both individual and team challenges energize the experience while still addressing compliance-based elements. By tracking goals, issuing challenges, and aligning engagement, health, performance, culture, and talent strategies, cloud-based products and technologies help HR departments think bigger, build internal brands faster and reach new engagement heights.

As the cloud-based revolution unfolds and newer technologies come to market, it’s imperative for HR and executive teams to adopt tools that align with business goals and will actually be used. And while these tools allow for a new layer of transparency, they will shine a light in the darkest corners of your company. So be ready to act on what you learn. Democracy is floating on a cloud.

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