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“Fully Engaged”

August 14, 2012 No Comments

By: E. Scott Menter, VP of Business Solutions, BP Logix

Employee Engagement Fully EngagedWith Labor Day approaching, my thoughts wander to the Great American Workforce. Arranged into offices and crammed into cubicles across the nation, these estimable employees toil 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, firing the engine of what is even today the greatest economy in the world.

I’ve mentioned in the past that Business Process Management (BPM) can be thought of as a descendant of the time-and-motion studies of the labor force around the turn of the 20th century.  Back then, the metric of greatest importance was, simply, time: how long does it take to install that headlight? How long to drill that hole? Time is thus an employer-driven metric, ultimately acting as a proxy for industrial output.

In a knowledge-based economy, however, employees are contributing much more than the sweat of their brows. They produce innovative products and services, both responsive to and ahead of customer demand. The best of them are in high demand, and can only be expected to stick around as long as they find their work interesting and rewarding. So the new metric of choice is 
employee engagement.

Employee engagement is a late twentieth-century concept, one that nobody really considered or cared about in earlier decades.  It can be hard to gauge, but in my mind it’s proportional to the percentage of time a given employee spends doing things that move your company in the right direction.  That in turn relies on the “softer” measures of engagement–how much does the employee like her job?  Does he spend half his day looking for deals on Groupon, or thinking about new ways to reach and connect with your customers?  Is she attentive to details like contract terms and discount opportunities, or does she rush through agreements and procurement in order to catch the early train back home.

Business process management (BPM) software can be a secret weapon in the battle for employee engagement. BPM, properly used, can create an environment with less bureaucracy, fewer menial tasks, and more time to focus on what’s really important.  BPM is used by organizations every day for:

• Rapid collection of verifiable approvals with full accountability

• Instant discovery of historical actions for audit and compliance review

• Seamless collaboration across and beyond the organization for cross-disciplinary activities like procurement and hiring

What do those things have to do with employee engagement? Remember: today’s employees are creative, less task-oriented and more goal-oriented. Unnecessary administrative burdens lead to boredom, the natural enemy of creativity. Take the boring, routine, and soulless paper chase out of your employee’s workday, and her engagement is bound to increase.  Higher engagement is linked to higher productivity and greater profitability.  But, beyond that, wouldn’t you rather work in an environment in which you and your colleagues are freed from the dreariest parts of your work day?

When we speak of BPM, we usually talk about hard savings like paper reduction or risk mitigation.  But BPM’s less well-known impact on employee engagement can make an even greater contribution to your bottom line and to your colleagues’ work life.  That’s an investment worth making.

Fresh Ink

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