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How AI can boost employee engagement and the employee experience

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a topic that continues to dominate headlines and generate huge levels of interest, particularly since ChatGPT was released in late 2022. Many senior executives and operational teams are actively considering how they can best use AI within their organisation to boost efficiency and improve processes, as well as support wider business objectives.

HR functions, digital workplace teams and internal communicators can see the exciting potential for AI to help in a variety of different ways. Many of them are already using AI with specific products and are now looking to deploy the next set of generative AI tools.

One question we are getting increasingly asked is how AI can be used to support employee engagement and making organisations a better place to work. We believe AI can certainly contribute to a better overall employee experience and has a role to play. In this article we’re going to explore some of the ways in which AI can help employee engagement and boost digital employee experience through the digital workplace.

What do we mean by employee engagement and employee experience?

Employee engagement is a term that describes the relationship between employee and employer, and how connected the employee feels to an organisation. It is usually measured by surveys that canvas the opinion of employees. While there is broadly a consensus around what engagement is at a high level, some people have differing and more specific definitions of employee engagement.

Employee experience is a broader term that describes the overall experience of work employees have across their daily touchpoints with their employer as well as key moments across the employee lifecycle.

Many different factors contribute to both employment engagement and experience including leadership, strategy, mission, workplace environment, role, pay levels, flexible working, opportunities for growth and development and even the experience of workplace technology.

Can AI really boost employee engagement and experience?

AI can help boost employee engagement and experience in different ways, including saving people time, supporting people in their role, improving communications and removing daily frustration. Below we cover some of the key ways AI can make a positive contribution.

However, some perspective is needed. There is a tendency by the media and some solution providers in their marketing material to paint a picture where AI can solve any problem. Employee engagement and employee experience are complex with many different elements. Using AI is neither a magic ingredient or panacea that can change employee engagement or employee experience over night; moving the needle on employee engagement requires strategic thinking, strong leadership, cultural change and a wide range of tactics employed.

AI has a valuable role to play in supporting some of the tactics that can boost employee engagement and employee experience, but it is not a replacement for the wider strategic changes that are required to really engage employees.

Six ways that AI can support employee engagement and experience

As AI solutions become more sophisticated it is likely that they will contribute to employee engagement and the employee experience in an increasing number of ways.

1. Automate repetitive tasks

In recent years a direction of travel for the digital workplace has been to increase automation in order to automate those repetitive tasks that take up time for employees and are often dull and frustrating. This has generally been referred to as “Robot Process Automation.”

AI is now being used to increase the number and sophistication of tasks that can be automated, helping making better use of employees time and potentially making their working day and role more interesting. For example, AI can be used to automate some of the more mundane tasks relating to meetings –scheduling meetings, sending out invitations, and even summarising minutes and actions.

Digital workplace teams that are able to automate frustrating and time-consuming tasks and give employees back time to carry out more interesting and valuable activities, are helping to contribute to employee engagement.

2. Use chatbots to drive employee self-service

Chatbots are now one of most commonplace uses of AI across the digital workplace, usually supporting employee self-service and relieving pressure on busy IT and HR helpdesks. A chatbot can answer common employee questions, help find particular information and even complete simple transactions, empowering employees to get things done more quickly so they can get on with their busy day, Again, this gives more time back to employees and helps avoids the frustration of not being able to find the right information or complete a task.

Recent advances in generative AI means that the performance of chatbots is highly likely to improve going forward and be increasingly accepted by employees as a good option to find information and get things done.

3. Better content targeting to support engagement

Intranets and other digital communications channels help employees stay informed, but also feel more connected to their organisation and leadership. Communication channels support effective messaging so employees can find out about a company’s overall mission and relevant activities. They can also connect to other colleagues, supporting the kind of relationships that generate a real sense of community.

AI has a role to play in helping employees better connect to the content, communications, campaigns and people that improve employee engagement and experience. Many organisations are complex with extremely diverse workforces, and it can be difficult to connect employees to truly engaging content that is relevant to a person’s role, location, division and interests.

AI can help by making more intelligent suggestions to a person for content they might be interested in, by automatically translating content into the right language, by automatically tagging content so it matches the right employee profile and even making suggestions to improve content to make it more engaging. All these can support more effective digital communications that underpins improving employee engagement.

4. Target learning and development opportunities

The ability to better target the right content to people can also apply to learning opportunities, with AI making suggestions for relevant learning material and courses to individuals across a very diverse workforce. Increasing support for learning and development, and making relevant training more visible that drives personal, professional and career growth, can again support wider efforts around engagement and employee experience.

5. Helping people in their role

AI is going to have an increasing influence on different aspects of our daily work, supporting different processes throughout an organisation. Ultimately AI should help people in their role and make them more effective, allowing them to overcome barriers and achieve more. For example, generative AI is already helping people write better text, solve coding issues, identify insights from data and more. Specific AI-powered solutions can make complex tasks like recruitment and sales activity that much easier. Naturally, when people are better supported in their role, this can influence their daily experience of work.

6. Sentiment analysis and identifying pain points

Successful interventions and initiatives to improve employee engagement and the overall employee experience rely on data about how employees are feeling about specific aspects of working life; for example, where there are pain points then some kind of action will be required. However, even though there is an increasing amount of data across the digital workplace that can yield valuable insights, spotting trends relating to employee sentiment is far from straightforward.

AI can play a role in more accurately identifying employee sentiment and trends across multiple datasets as well as unstructured content. It can uncover insights that might otherwise remain hidden, spot early trends and provide clues about wider issues, that can ensure HR and employee experience teams can then take the necessary actions.

Using AI to boost employee experience

AI will continue to play an active role in the workplace. While AI cannot transform employee engagement and employee experience on its own, it can help boost engagement in several different ways. If you’d like to discuss the role AI could play in your efforts to improve employee engagement and employee experience, then get in touch!

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