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How to engage your unconnected employees


One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role at Capgemini’s Business Services has been working with partners such as SumTotal to create a series of webinars on how HR can make an impact on our clients’ businesses. Our new “Reimagining HR for the Digital Age” webinar series gets behind the surface to inspire, show and discuss “how to” leverage technology to optimize your HR operations and increase your employee experience.

Despite all the noise around digitalization of the workforce, organizations are finding it a challenge to apply digital to their unconnected employees that don’t use a mobile or laptop in their daily work. Digital needs to tackle manufacturing cycles that sometimes require thousands to be hired and onboarded in a single day, mass payroll impacting data reconciliation with attendance or shift premiums, or seasonal cycles that require mass leavers.

In this blog, Warren Gouws (director of solution architects, SumTotal Skillsoft) summarizes insights gained from our first webinar, “Digital for the Unconnected Employee” on leveraging digital to connect with and narrow the engagement gap for “offline” employees, helping them stay connected and well-informed on the factory floor.

Warren Gouws, director of solution architects, SumTotal Skillsoft

Warren Gouws

“If only I had more money to buy my granddaughter Susie a new saxophone … but with this shift work, I probably won’t get to see her recital anyway … I feel like I just come to work, stare at a machine for eight hours, and …”

Meet Terrence Ferguson, a 55-year old production line worker at Stark Enterprises, whose train of thought is suddenly interrupted when Ida Ramsey, his new supervisor, bumps into him, sending her smartphone crashing to the shop floor. Ida started with the company last month, in another wave of new recruits coming in to replace Terrence’s former supervisors who are now retiring.

“Oh … sorry,” yells Ida, before hurrying off in the opposite direction still writing a text message to her father that reads: “They just don’t see my potential and I feel like I don’t have any control over where my career is going …”

“Maybe watch where you are going next time?” barks Terrence, openly irritated, before turning back to the three machines he operates … and his monologue of thoughts.

The march of the Millennials

While it’s clear that Terrence and Ida are not “engaged,” what the interaction between Terrence and Ida gives insight into is a more challenging trend further complicating employee engagement.

As Terrence’s supervisors retire, they’re being replaced by Millennials who have significantly different values, beliefs, and lifestyles from the Baby Boomer generation. These differences are changing the way employees interact with each other, contributing to the disengagement felt by some employees, which is having a direct – and negative – impact on the bottom line of the business.

With Millennials set to dominate the workplace in the coming decade, organizations need to become agile in adapting to attracting, developing, and retaining quality talent – a strategy or, more importantly, a lack thereof will make or break them.

Staying connected on the factory floor

Implementing a digital human capital management (HCM) solution enables your people to stay connected and well-informed via data acquisition devices and multimedia kiosks on the retail or factory floor, helping your organization connect with and narrow the engagement gap for your “offline” employees. To this end, here’s a checklist of what to look for before investing in a modern HCM solution:

  • Safety first – to ensure safety in the workplace, your HCM solution should provide your employees with relevant training, standard operating procedures (SOP) and observation checklists where they do their work. Your system also needs to monitor certification, ensure that uncertified workers aren’t scheduled to work in potentially unsafe areas, and even prevent workers from clocking into these positions.
  • Career mobility – if your employees feel they don’t have the opportunity to advance themselves or achieve more, it’s a huge turn off when it comes to engagement. What’s the point in working harder if you have no endgame in sight? Your HCM system should empower your employees to not only understand what their current job fit is, but also create a career plan with recommended skill and competency activities pushed to them to help close the gaps.
  • Opportunities to earn and grow – your HCM system should enable your employees to expand their earning power by being able to bid on extra available shifts or overtime. If they are not qualified to work those extra shifts, the system should recommend learning activities to enable the worker to grow into those opportunities, thus expanding earning power but also fostering professional development and growth.
  • Meaningful self-service – your HCM system should empower your employees to manage their own work-life balance by being able to set their availability for extra shifts, forecast holiday eligibility (accrual banks), submit holiday requests, and swap shift and holiday time with their fellow colleagues.

To summarize, implementing a complete digital HCM solution across your HR function – and extending this down to your line managers and worker – promotes employee engagement and fosters a high-performance culture. As always, employees are your most valuable asset.

Watch a webinar on how Capgemini and SumTotal’s HR management solution enables your employees to stay connected and well-informed via biometric scanning devices and multimedia kiosks on the factory floor.

To receive information about all of our upcoming “Reimagining HR for the Digital Age” webinars directly into your inbox, sign up for alerts for the next webinars in the series.

To find out more about how Capgemini’s Digital Employee Operations can narrow the engagement gap for your offline workers, contact:

Learn more about how Capgemini’s Digital Employee Operations can improve your HR function and employee satisfaction.

Chantelle Brandt Larsen is a tech-savvy thought leader with over 17 years experience in organization development (OD). She is passionate about the power of technology and mindset in changing business models and operations. She has successfully designed and executed multiple OD solutions across a range of businesses.

Warren Gouws is the director of solution architects at SumTotal Skillsoft, a world-class HCM and digital learning company. He has designed and implemented workforce management solutions for Fortune 500 companies for over 18 years. For the last six years, Warren has helped deliver a complete HCM offering of learning, talent and workforce management for SumTotal, Skillsoft.