By Jonathan Russell, Bizdaq

Most managers would agree that hard-working, loyal and motivated employees are definitely worth hanging on to. And yet, despite an engaged, productive workforce being the cornerstone of most successful businesses, employees are often neglected and undervalued, making it all too easy for companies to lose their most valuable assets – sometimes to the advantage of their close competitors.

Ensuring staff are properly remunerated and working to a common goal with plenty of positive reinforcement should already be an integral part of your employee engagement and retention strategy. If your staff can access career development opportunities and earn a fair (and regularly reviewed) salary in a supportive professional environment, you’re more likely to hold on to your top talent for longer.

You also might want to consider how technology could play an important role in managing performance and encouraging employee engagement to create a coherent and highly motivated workforce that will help drive your business forward. We all know that the right systems can transform business processes, speeding up transactions, crunching data and delivering an enhanced service to customers.

But what about inspiring individual team members to engage? How can tech improve, monitor and reward performance in the workplace?

1. Performance management

Traditional HR procedures risk being stuck in the dark ages. Twice-yearly manager-employee review meetings may have been the order of the day ten years ago, but this kind of performance management strategy is usually too infrequent to be meaningful and is frankly well past its sell-by date. If you’re rewarding staff for the actions they completed months ago, you’re leaving it too late for the feedback to be meaningful and to have any chance of influencing current practices. Instead, use instant feedback mechanisms – often based on social platforms – to reward employees for today’s successes, and to create significantly higher engagement rates. Pick a platform like ReviewSnap that’s designed to collect instant feedback as well as real-time employee input and you’ll build a valuable two-way channel for improved communications.

2. Peer approval

Nothing makes an employee feel more valued than the approval of their co-workers. So why not create a workplace in which employees are actively encouraged to recognise and reward each other’s performance? Recognition platforms enable colleagues to say ‘Good job!’ whenever the occasion arises and also give managers additional information about the top performers and influencers in their team. It’s a great way of identifying potential mentors and prospects for promotion, as well as providing data that can be used to help formulate succession plans for the future, too.

3. Just rewards

Think about how you could introduce a system of instant rewards to recognise extra effort and to improve motivation and engagement. This kind of reward system has been shown to have a greater impact on staff morale than a pay rise, so consider using an online platform that gives managers the ability to assign credits to an employee’s account whenever they deserve it. In this way, your staff can choose something that’s meaningful to them – merchandise, experiences or electronic vouchers - and enjoy the fruits of their success straight away rather than waiting for the jam-on-Sunday promise of the month-end pay packet.

4. Organise and collaborate

Naturally, technology lends itself perfectly to automating previously manual processes and creating fresh opportunities to work more effectively as a team. There are lots of tech tools that can help co-workers collaborate more successfully wherever they’re based – cloud-based applications like Dropbox, for instance, that facilitate better file sharing, and efficient communications and workflow tools such as Slack to cut through the email bottlenecks. Advanced HR applications including Featherlight and Weekdone also enable a more logical approach to broader performance-review procedures as well as the recording of goals, accomplishments and challenges in a central, easy-to-use system.

5. Game on

Gamification is one of the buzziest of employee engagement strategies. Put simply, it involves the use of game-like features in the work environment to motivate desired outcomes such as increased sales or enhanced productivity and, used properly, can boost engagement. Because this kind of activity maps into existing game-inspired technology, it is instantly appealing and employees can easily track the collection of badges, points or other reward tokens on the way to their personal goal. It’s not designed to replace a long-term recognition programme, although it’s proved to be highly effective for short-term incentive schemes.

A well-thought-out employee recognition platform not only provides an interactive method for improving engagement, it also enables a forward-thinking company to better define and communicate its culture and values. It provides a valuable real-time link between employee activity and longer-term business strategies which, in turn, offers an effective way of aligning individual goals with business priorities.

Responsive HR tools help to create a positive workplace with staff who feel valued and continue to contribute to the well-being and growth of the business itself.