How Technology Can Be the Key to Company Culture

— April 17, 2017

In 2013, an extensive Gallup poll found that a measly 13% of employees are consistently engaged at work. Perhaps even more concerning, 24% are “actively disengaged,” meaning they “are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers.” It’s hardly an earth-shattering insight that employee satisfaction and employee productivity are causally related – or that a decrease in productivity bodes poorly for the bottom line – but managers often find themselves at a loss when attempting to correct problematic company culture.

Despite narratives maligning it as an impersonal, cold force, tactical deployment of technology – especially within midsize and large companies – can be a powerful means of both building and maintaining culture. There is no replacing the human element of culture, and companies would be wise to periodically assess their culture in distinctly human terms, but the right technological practices alleviate the day-in-and-day-out burdens previously located squarely on managerial shoulders. With that in mind, here are several areas of company culture that are ripe for technological optimization.

Demystifying Company “Fit”

Hiring candidates based not only on skill and experience but on broader compatibility and fit is certainly a shrewd practice, but successful employee integration requires an ongoing effort. Even if a new hire is an expert in his or her field, he or she is not automatically an expert in the way your company does business. Offering employees substantial on-boarding resources guarantees that everyone at your company is on the same page, and extensive on-boarding can highlight employee strengths that may have been underutilized in his or her previous position, providing managers with the option to shuffle roles and assignments to maximize efficiency.

When employees are inserted into work environments to which they are particularly well-suited, success comes naturally, and both morale and productivity receive boosts. Determining fit has been made increasingly simple with the proliferation of Learning Management Systems (LMS), software or web-based applications that facilitate everything from general on-boarding to individual skill-development. These technologies simultaneously demystify the nebulous notion of “fit” for managers and afford employees new and old with opportunities to demonstrate abilities that may be going unnoticed or underutilized.

Keeping the Lines of Communication Open

According to Bersin by Deloitte, 80% of workplace learning happens via on-the-job interactions with peers and supervisors. But with remote workers, irregular contractors, and diffuse field offices all becoming the norm, fostering an atmosphere of collegiality represents a daunting endeavor. Fortunately, if technology has a primary strength, it’s the neutralization of the effects of physical distance.

Through dynamic communication platforms like Slack, expansive collaborative apps like G Suite, and internal social directories likeContinu’s People Search, companies are now able to keep employees connected and engaged, encourage cooperation among employees with complementary skill-sets, and expedite employee discovery and interaction across locations, departments, and areas of expertise, all without extensive investment. Business is all about people, but technology enables the modern company to make communication a cornerstone of its culture.

Recognizing a Job Well Done

Of course, increased employee interaction is not an inherent good; companies only benefit from positive, supportive interactions. Few flourish in a cutthroat work environment, and one of the most compelling ways to diminish unhealthily competitive tendencies is to provide support for mutual recognition. E-mail “shout-outs” deserve praise as instances of incipient tech-induced recognitions, but a number of peer-evaluation software products are broadening the scope of mutual recognition in a game-changing manner.

Instead of plaudits coming exclusively from the top down, services like CultureAmp, YouEarnedIt, and Hyphen allow employees to evaluate each other, promoting recognition of the smaller daily successes that might float under the radar of higher management. This “crowd-sourcing” of workplace recognition not only delivers a more complete performance snapshot to managers, it also inspires a sense of community and feelings of “we’re all in this together” among employees. People enjoy (and often respond well to) positive reinforcement, and thanks to certain technologies, exceptional efforts can now be recognized as easily by one’s coworker as by one’s boss.

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Author: Scott Burgess

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