Continued Engagement of Employees by means of Artificial Intelligence
In their report “Global Human Capital Trends 2016”, Deloitte identifies engagement as an important emerging trend in organizational development. Engagement is one of those nebulous terms that defies definition in an organizational context. Deloitte defines it in terms of culture where culture is “how things are done around here” and engagement is “how do you feel about how things are done around here?”
To complicate matters, how employees feel about how things are done in an organization is on display on a growing number of sites from GlassDoor to The Job Crowd. Engagement is vital to organizational health. Actively disengaged employees can wreak havoc on talent recruitment through social media posts. Engagement is about connection. Do your employees feel connected to the mission, vision, and values of the organization?
The Reality of Employee Engagement
Engaged employees feel the connection to a sense of purpose – that what they and their organization do matters to society as a whole. Millennials, in particular, feel and act engaged when they are in alignment with the mission of the organization. Engagement occurs when individual and organizational values align. Engagement is driven by more than carefully designed office space and C level electronic missives. Engagement can be instilled by a wide range of activities from corporate social responsibility projects to brand messaging. It would seem logical that we would use corporate education and training to evoke engagement, but how do you teach a feeling as personal as engagement?
Infusing corporate learning with content that produces engagement is not an easy task. Simply presenting engagement as the desired outcome of an online course is ineffective to the point of actually having the opposite effect of driving disengagement as employees will intrinsically realize that engagement must come from inside them and not a training course. The traditional tools of online and in-person learning fall short. PowerPoint slides, lectures, videos, and discussion boards, for the most part serve up information rather than elicit a value alignment between the organization and the employee. Simply offering up examples of what it feels like to be engaged is not enough. One cannot tell someone to be engaged. Engagement must be discovered by the employee through reflective insight and experience. This is where applied artificial intelligence in the form of adaptive and simulation based learning comes in.
AI's Role in Engagement and Learning
Artificially intelligent adaptive education applications can be used to deliver content customized to the learner’s understanding of organizational values. For example, a learner could be asked to analyze a case study focused on ethical choice and organizational values; as they are asked questions that measure their understanding of the organization’s values, they could be provided AI powered mentoring directly connected to their level of knowledge. So, if a learner demonstrates a high level of understanding, AI mentoring stretches the learner with more challenging questions, and if they show a lack of understanding, mentoring algorithms serve up analogies and examples designed to produce greater understanding and connection. AI adaptive applications create a sense of alignment in at least the understanding of an organizations mission, vision, and values.
AI driven digital simulations that use natural language processing to create learning experiences where the learner “lives” in the narrative are also powerful learning tools that ignite engagement. Imagine the case described above having characters that communicate with the learner. Perhaps the learner is placed in a situation that requires an ethical decision with the ethics of the situation being directly related to the mission, vision, and values of the organization. Rather than experiencing the case as an outsider, the learner plays a part in the narrative, communicating with AI external and internal stakeholders towards a resolution. The ethics of the organization and the learner are put in direct contact. The values of the individual and the organization align - or maybe they don’t align, in which case something important is discovered. Living the experience through simulated communication “involves” the learner with organizational values in action. Experiencing values is a far more effective way of driving alignment that leads to engagement.
AI learning applications provide the tools to create training modules that bring organizational and employee values into contact. Employees that feel a connection with the mission and values of the organization are far more likely to be deemed engaged.
Deloitte finds that engagement is viewed as important or highly important by 85% of North American managers. They cite the millennial need for alignment of purpose, competition for talent, and the hyper-condensed career path that calls for employee development to be rapid and transferable, as the drivers of HR attention to engagement. HR professionals looking for strategies for infusing engagement into their online training offerings should explore artificially intelligent adaptive and simulation based learning tools. HR is not the sole driver of engagement, but it is in a unique position to expose the employee to the connections that exist between the individual and the organization.
This article was written by Robert Clapperton with Ametros Learning Product Development.