3 Engagement Principles The Internet of Things Illuminates

ITA Group
ITA Group

Person holding a tablet device with a hologram coming out of it

The four-day-long Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a veritable holiday for gadget geeks, wrapped up on January 8.

First held in 1967, the show has long been the hotspot for the latest in electronics, and has been the place where the laserdisc, the CD, personal camcorder and countless other tech innovations were announced.

One of the more recent topics that has dominated the show, and, increasingly, our everyday lives, is the Internet of Things (IoT). Gartner predicts 20.8 billion IoT-connected things will be in use by 2020, from cars to home automation to industrial components and more.

What is the Internet of Things, and what can we learn from it to influence employee engagement?     

What’s The Internet of Things?

As defined by Gartner, IoT is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.

In other words, the IoT is devices using the internet to talk to one another without you even thinking about it.

It’s the FitBit that syncs with your phone and tracks your steps throughout the day. It’s the Nest Thermostat you can adjust on your phone to make sure your house is nice and toasty. It’s the Amazon Echo you ask to play your favorite Spotify playlist when you get home from work.

At its essence, IoT keeps people engaged by harnessing these three key principles of employee engagement:      

1. Focus

In the days before Netflix, renting a movie was a real pain. You hopped in the car, drove to Blockbuster, strolled the aisles looking for the VHS you wanted, checked out and drove home. Then you had to rewind the tape and take it back to the store, too.

IoT automates a lot of the fluff. With the right apps, it knows that you always check the weather before you leave the house, so the highs and lows are pulled up on your phone. You always forward emails from your dad to your brother, so it takes care of that without you even thinking about it.

For employees, all of this adds to heightened levels of focus and more time to devote to being productive. Dry, manual tasks such as data entry will be a thing of the past, says one Wired article:

“As more devices become connected, manual entry will fall by the wayside, giving humans more time to focus on ways to be proactive with the data rather than spending time entering it.”     

2. Feedback on Progress

You aced your spelling test in second grade, so you got a gold star. You made it the first-string football team, so you got a letter jacket. You posted a cool picture of your vacation on Facebook, so you get buried in “likes.”

It’s hard to make iterative progress without feedback, and IoT helps deliver. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, management adviser Marcus Buckingham echoed this point:

“[Younger generations] put something on Instagram, and in 15 to 20 seconds they’re expecting to know if it’s any good or not. So it’s crazy for them to come into a workplace that’s like, ‘We don’t care about you, and twice a year we’re going to tell you what the company wants.’”

Just as social media and apps give you the real-time feedback you crave by way of “likes,” “shares,” “hearts” and more, providing your people more immediate feedback on progress gives a little boost of achievement for a job well done, or a reminder that there’s work left to do.

When people are tied to their progress, they stay engaged.      

3. Purpose

Younger workers, especially millennials and Generation Z, want purpose behind what they do. They want to know that the work they’re doing is meaningful.

And IoT can bring that purpose into perspective. Through its ability to cut through the unnecessary and provide guidance toward achievement, a larger purpose can be found.

To really engage your people, you need to connect what they do to a larger purpose. If your people see that their participation is connected to an overall vision for your business and that aligns with their personal development and professional goals, you’ll see positive results.

A focused, high-achieving and purpose-driven workforce can take your company to new heights. That is, of course, if you’re strategically recognizing them for excellent performance.

A survey by WorldatWork and ITA Group shows 89% of organizations use recognition programs to motivate and engage their workforce. Download this report to learn more about how companies are leveraging recognition to drive results.