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Truly Magical

June 3, 2014, Hemanth Puttaswamy - Smart Technology can be a game-changer for engaging employees
Truly Magical

When talk turns to transforming the workplace experience for employees, I like to start with the movies.

More specifically, Netflix. The entertainment giant has revolutionized movie watching in ways that reach far beyond their innovative delivery channels. The real game-changer has been Netflix’ ability to leverage Technology and predictive analytics to personalize and enhance the movie-watching experience like never before. Relying on algorithms and machine Learning, Netflix, over time, makes smarter and smarter recommendations based on your choices, as well as the preferences of people similar to you. The result is content recommendations that are right in your sweet spot, as well as offerings that expand on your interests.

Netflix and other savvy companies have not just changed the consumer experience – they have also dramatically altered expectations. Consumers now expect a personalized, engaging and real-time experience. And those expectations don’t end when they walk into the workplace. I believe we are reaching a tipping point in which true employee engagement will be all but unachievable in organizations that rely on old-thinking and antiquated Technology and processes for their HR and talent management functions.

Tearing down the siloes

Recognition of these trends has been a key driving force behind our efforts at Saba to create a transformative solution that does for the workplace what Netflix has achieved in the entertainment space. The result is Saba Cloud. It’s an intuitive platform that offers a personalized, dynamic experience that allows employees to clearly identify and strive toward their unique aspirations, while also fostering deeper collaboration and engagement.

Many of today’s employees need look no farther than their own cubicles to understand the dire need for this new approach.  At many organizations,  talent management is little changed from the days when the only way to watch a movie was to get in the car, drive to the theater, and hope you liked what was on the marquee.  These traditional talent management systems are job-based -- very much siloed – and clearly focused more on duties, compliance, rules and regulations as opposed to guiding employees – and their companies – toward full realization of their potential.

Enter the new approach, which relies on predictive analytics and smart machine Learning to tear down those siloes and provides a unique experience tailored to each individual employee. At Saba, we know this is a better way to engage, assess and inspire employees because we live it every day. We have the unique opportunity to test the very products and solutions that we are offering our customers. And our CEO Shawn Farshchi is passionate about nurturing a culture of open and honest feedback. Employees are encouraged to provide their blunt and unvarnished assessments of our products in development. This is essential to our success – and ultimately the success of our customers. If a product is not useful to us – if we can’t see and leverage the full value – then, frankly, our hearts simply won’t be in the selling and implementation of these solutions. 

‘Something magical happens’

Fortunately, we are developing and enhancing solutions that our team across Saba can believe in. A clear example is the performance review solution included in Saba Cloud. We rolled out a few iterations internally and got plenty of feedback. So we tweaked, revised, and finally landed on a solution that carries so much more value and relevance than traditional approaches. 

One key element of the performance review solution is providing the means for employees to easily award badges to their colleagues for specific achievements throughout the year. Now, instead of an employee sitting with his or her manager once a year for a obligatory review, employees receive what amounts to an ongoing and dynamic performance journal that provides steady and specific feedback. When that formal review rolls around, a manager has rich data and information in which to engage the employee in a robust conversation that blends feedback and insights  from colleagues with more traditional measures. The result is a conversation that is constructive and focused on further leveraging strengths or clearly identifying areas in which the employee can improve.

From an HR perspective, these trends and Technology mark a clear opportunity to move beyond the sometimes limiting role  of “checking the boxes” with compliance and transactional duties. Rather, HR can shift to a more strategic and engaging position of helping employees truly recognize and achieve their potential. HR practitioners who get this -- and leverage the potential of predictive analytics and machine Learning -- will be at the forefront creating an unrivaled competitive edge for their organizations.

As I like to say, something truly magical happens when Technology serves as a facilitator rather than an obstacle to an employee fully engaging in his or her work, and mapping a rewarding career path.  When it all clicks, it’s like one of those moments when you’re watching a movie and find yourself fully engaged and immersed in the action. Truly magical indeed.  

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