Can you improve your company culture through technology? Companies are certainly trying.
As companies realize that their success hinges on creating an environment where “soft skills” such as communication, collaboration and innovation thrive, companies are looking at their business models for the future – becoming more digital , more tech-savvy and more nimble at adapting to change, says Christa Degnan Manning, vice president of solution provider research, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
“By the nature of business change, strategy change, and the culture to facilitate and drive that change, they are embracing new technologies in and of themselves to be the mechanism for culture change,” Manning says.
Establish a culture; strengthen it with technology
An organization’s culture is set and reset every day, says Jordan Birnbaum, vice president and chief behavioral economist at ADP.
“To the extent that you want certain principles to be the foundation of your organizational culture, that means making them available to people every time,” he said. “Technology provides an opportunity to ensure that the organization’s intentions for the type of culture it wants are communicated with regularity. If a company establishes that collaboration is important, how do you support it? What tools make it easier?
When Capital One wanted to increase collaboration within teams and between teams, it started using Slacka communication and collaboration software platform, in its technical department, allowing employees to have real-time interactions to exchange code and share ideas, recommendations and presentations.
Businesses large and small are embracing technology tools to support their culture. Buffer, a social media management platform, already used Slack for communication, but also uses a transparency dashboard as a hub for providing details on employee salaries, awards, earnings, fundraising and diversity.
Time to change?
Technology is most often used to change a culture or to support and reinforce a culture when an organization is at a crossroads, Manning says. Mergers or divestitures, the arrival of a new CEO, difficulty attracting or retaining employees, or the need to integrate non-traditional employees into the organization can trigger the need to consciously grow the culture, says- she.
But companies can’t always update entire HR platforms, Manning says. Instead, they can use specific coins to solve the biggest cultural problems.
According to Raphael Crawford-Marks, co-founder and CEO of Bonusly, an employee recognition platform, technology tools to improve culture fall into three main areas: performance management, employee recognition, or listening through of comments. While technology isn’t always necessary to achieve these improvements in culture, it will ultimately help, he says.
“It could be done with pen and paper, but as companies grow it gets harder and harder. It’s also more difficult to mine aggregated data for insights,” Crawford-Marks said. Using technology to help engage the workforce in a scalable way improves the workplace. And as companies grow and disperse, recognition is the hardest to scale without using technology, he says.
Using the Right Tools… Efficiently
Enterprise initiatives can fail when the tools used don’t recognize real human behavior, Birnbaum warns. Drawing on her background as a behavioral economist, Birnbaum says HR initiatives are often designed for the way we want people to be, not the way they really are.
He helps create software tools that incorporate behavioral economics to steer people toward positive behavior. Whether it’s using new insights into how the brain learns (i.e. short, frequent training) or how long it takes to build user buy-in before ‘they don’t accept recommendations or how framing a choice can influence the employee to truly act in their own best interests, Birnbaum says understanding our inherent “predictable irrationality” will help create more effective technology tools to drive cultural change.
The health of a company’s culture is difficult to measure, but employee engagement is necessary for a positive employee experience. Technology tools are a key part of managing an era of change ahead. The percentage of employees participating in programs and the feedback they provide, along with other statistics such as revenue and absenteeism trends, or achievement of business goals, indicate whether a company is making progress. .