There’s something every manager knows. The more engaged an employee is, the more productive they are. And the more productive they are, the better it is for the business.
New research from Forrester, commissioned by SAP Concur, shows just how important this link is.
It revealed that 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.
But as well as demonstrating the link between employee engagement and positive business outcomes, the research also reveals something intriguing.
Employee Engagement Isn’t Just the Job of HR
It suggests that businesses may be looking in the wrong place when it comes to looking for ways to boost employee engagement.
That’s because it finds that businesses tend to think that improving employee engagement and the employee experience is the responsibility of HR. And when HR has this responsibility, it typically focuses on improving HR-related processes such as onboarding, performance management and coaching.
But this is big picture stuff. In fact, the research shows, improving the employee experience for the day-to-day working lives of staff delivers impressive benefits for employee engagement. And for day-to-day improvements, businesses need to be looking to finance and IT as well as HR.
How Finance and HR Can Help Improve Employee Engagement
Forrester found that a critical driver of employee engagement is the ability to provide employees with a technology environment that is designed to optimise their productivity.
And the perfect example of an area that benefits from improving the technology environment to optimise productivity? Manual travel, expense and invoice processes.
Typical paper-based travel, expense and invoice processes are a frustrating experience for employees. They involve printing forms, filling them out, attaching receipts and getting approvals. It takes them away from doing more productive work, something that has a doubly negative impact on the business. Not only are they doing less productive work, which means they’re delivering less value for the business, they’re also less engaged, which leads to less value too.
It’s a scenario Forrester has been able to quantify. 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%), which leads to decreased revenue (27%).
It’s frustrating for finance too. Forms are likely to be submitted late because it’s a chore employees put off. Problems getting approval from managers who are out of the office add further delays. There’s also a lack of visibility around costs because finance are working in arrears rather than in advance.
It all means that when it comes to manual expense reporting, respondents report:
- higher costs and expense errors
- reduced process efficiency, visibility and access to data
- a higher incidence of reporting and forecasting errors.
The Double Business Benefit of Using Technology in Travel, Expense and Invoice Processes
Using technology to improve travel, expense and invoice processes is often presented as a way to improve visibility and drive productivity throughout a business. It’s undoubtedly true. Research shows that finance automation results in:
- 19% more efficient expense report handling
- 9% more efficient invoicing staff
- 28% more efficient auditing staff
- 62% more employees following T&E policies.
Finance automation tools from SAP Concur typically pay for themselves after five months and result in a three year ROI of 650%.
But consider the difference these tools make to the day-to-day lives of employees – and the impact that has on employee engagement and therefore customer satisfaction levels.
It means finance automation is a win-win scenario for the finance team and the business as a whole.