Using technology to address the engagement gap

4 minute read

FIS people strategy and analytics head Isabel Naidoo wants to close the gap between work and real-life engagement


FIS engagement

There's a massive swell of engagement, of dialogue, of feedback in the real world, but in the work world, by contrast, companies are having to work to get teams more engaged and more active.

At my company, FIS, we want to close this gulf between the level of enthusiastic engagement we show towards personal platforms such as Facebook and TripAdvisor, and our often reluctant engagement with work applications. For example, we need our teams to embrace self-service, like they do in their personal lives, online rather than having to rely on internal administrators.

To give you a sense of the scale of the challenges we face and the geographic as well as cultural factors we have to manage, FIS is the leader in technology and solutions for merchants, banks and capital markets across the globe, with 55,000 employees over 200 locations.

Starting the journey with baseline data

Embarking on this journey to fill the engagement gap, the first step we took was to give people the data they needand the ability to make decisions for themselves, as well as dothings for themselves.

We wanted all our FIS managers, not just those in HR, to be able to continue their journeys to ever increasing leadership excellence. In practical terms, this meant having access to talent data and the information to do something proactive about what they learned. To do that, we needed one global system – we implemented the Workday enterprise software HR system.

Adopting it was the beginning of our journey towards closing the engagement gap. We made it a core value that everything we do is driven by data insight. When we began a talent acquisition transformation programme, for example, we used data to look at our processes, look at our systems, and try to work out where we needed to pinpoint efforts to streamline and increase efficiencies.

What does employee engagement look like in this picture?

The second step for us was around dialogue. There is a lot of dialogue and engagement that’s taking place in the real world, and we wanted to replicate this in the workplace. We addressed this in two ways. The first way was through engagement surveys. Most companies have a cycle of people filling in surveys. HR take away the results and run away into a dark room with them; they may run focus groups, and then they return eventually to the managers with their results.

It’s a familiar process and we wanted to do something very different, so we partnered with employee engagement experts Glint. Two things in particular stand out for me about its solution. First, when we close an engagement survey – whether quick ‘pulses’ or annual exercises – the results are in the hands of the manager or of the HR leader immediately, so it's entirely real-time.

And secondly it's fully transparent. We’ve got real visibility of the data that helps to inform decision-making. It allows you to link straight through into action and development planning. It comes with a wonderful insights and analytics platform, linking the manager straight through to an action they can take as the solution allows the manager to easily isolate the real drivers of engagement and use them to create action plans.

What next for data?

The final goal we wanted to achieve was to inform decision making through data. If you think about the way people act in the real world, they are looking at price comparison websites, drawing on reviews, and they're taking action based on that data. We partnered with an organisation called Visier who have a cloud-based analytics capability to help us correlate different sets of data from across multiple systems to help inform decision making.

For example, we discovered that people who worked on teams where their managers gave them more feedback were 35% more likely to stay with FIS. That's a very compelling statistic. And we used it to inform the deployment of our new performance management process at FIS, built around real-time dialogue and feedback.

Not an HR toy

As a non-technologist, I have a point of view on technology: in the real world, most of us are using a phone with lots of different apps and we have no problem switching from one technology to another. Why? It’s because the apps are so easy to use. I tell my team: "If you're going to give me a technology that requires a job aid, I don't want it."

My point is that problems only arise when the software is too complicated, processes are convoluted or not simple enough to grasp and they're not fast enough.

Ultimately, we never wanted our teams to say: "Here comes HR with another long process." When you make things simple and easy to use, then you get better engagement. I think, with hard work, great business sponsorship and involvement, that’s what we are achieving at FIS.

Isobel Naidoo, pictured, is head of People Strategy & Analytics at FIS

Isobel Naidoo, head of strategy and analytics, FIS

Published 4 September 2019
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