Partnering to Accelerate the Virtuous Cycle of Employee Engagement and Better Business Outcomes

It’s no surprise that a productive employee is an engaged employee, and an engaged employee is good for your business. Every manager and executive intuitively knows this. But few have the data to quantify just how true this is – or how to drive higher engagement.  

A new Forrester study commissioned by SAP recently explore the importance of fostering employee engagement and provides guidance on how companies can do this most effectively. Survey results indicated that engaged workers push harder to overcome barriers, serve customers better, and stay longer. In fact, companies with the most engaged employees enjoy 81% higher customer satisfaction, experience half the employee turnover compared to their peers, and have a decisive competitive advantage.  

Explore the Forrester Study

These are big numbers with big impacts that improve overall business performance. The pressing question, is how can your business maximise employee engagement – efficiently and in practical ways? 

To answer this question, you first need to understand the virtuous cycle between the employee experience, engagement, and desired business performance. Specifically: 

With this in mind, perhaps the better question to ask is how and where should you invest in the employee experience, and who is responsible for making these investments?  

Where to Focus? 

Forrester's study also revealed that a critical driver of engagement is the ability to provide employees with a technology environment that is designed to optimise their productivity. Manual, tedious, time-consuming processes that require double-entering data, involve manually reconciling information or  printing and filling out forms, or don’t offer a way to process important information while working remotely can cause employee frustration – especially when employees feel that they're being pulled away from more meaningful, interesting, or impactful work.  

Consider, for example, travel, expense, and invoice management processes. Most employees, at some point, need to book travel, generate an expense report, and wait for reimbursement by the business, so these are clearly important to the success of the organisation and the satisfaction of employees. But what if expense reports are often turned in late because employees must take time to gather tallies and staple receipts to a form? What if approvals take weeks because managers are travelling? What if accounts payable employees are overloaded due to business growth – manually entering and reconciling invoices for large volumes of expenses with the same headcount? And what if finance employees are frustrated when they need to manually pull the data for multiple systems in order to run spending and budgeting reports?  

These are all-too-common scenarios for enterprises today – and they cause tremendous frustration, friction, and delays that hurt the employee experience and the business as a whole. According to Forrester, on the expense reporting front, respondents report higher costs and expense errors; reduced process efficiency, visibility, and access to data; and a higher incidence of reporting and forecasting errors. At the same time, if employees are unhappy, respondents reported that they will be less productive (38%), leading to increased costs (35%) and high turnover rates (36%). A poor experience also impacts the organisation's ability to innovate (34%) and keep up with competitors (31%), all while decreasing revenue (27%).  

Who Is Responsible? 

As noted by Forrester, enterprises are often tempted to relegate the employee experience to the HR department, believing that departments such as finance and IT have nothing valuable to add. But Forrester found that HR tends to focus on improving HR-related processes such as onboarding, performance management, and coaching – not the day-to-day work experiences of employees. So, it’s critical that the departments routinely involved in many employees’ day-to-day tasks – such as finance and IT – collaborate around investments in the employee experience.  

This is particularly true when investing in technology that will improve employee experiences with travel, expense, and invoice management. Forrester found that organisations where HR, finance, and IT have a close partnership and work effectively toward a unified strategy tend to see more business benefits from their investment. 

Want to Learn More? 

Read the full Forrester paper on how to “Improve Travel, Expense, and Invoice Management to Drive Better Employee Experience.” You’ll find: 

  • A deeper understanding of the relationships between employee experience, engagement, and business performance 

  • Why you should start improving the employee experience by investing in intelligent technology that automates and streamlines travel, expense, and invoice management 

  • Insights into collaboration success