Jun 04 2021

Rethinking Our Approach to New Technology

“Over the past decade, organisations around the world have seen a dramatic rise in technologies that allow employees to work in more efficient and powerful ways. ”

by  Gary Beckstrand, Vice President , O.C. Tanner

Over the past decade, organisations around the world have seen a dramatic rise in technologies that allow employees to work in more efficient and powerful ways. However, too many of us fail to realise the full benefits of these technologies because organisations operate on the assumption that merely implementing something new will achieve their objectives.

Chris Havrilla, VP of HR Technology and Solution Provider Research at Bersin by Deloitte, says this: “Technology is often looked at as a silver bullet solution to problems and challenges, so implementation becomes the primary focus. As such, organisations find they have not made work easier or people more productive, they just added more work, steps, or complexities—and increased dissatisfaction and frustration.”

Indeed, research from the O.C. Tanner Institute shows that new technology is far more successful when it is introduced and integrated in ways that strengthen culture and improve the everyday employee experience.

TECHNOLOGY AND WORKPLACE CULTURE

According to our latest research, employees are ready and willing to embrace new technologies. In fact, 77% of employees believe their work experience will be improved by implementing new technology. However, the same research indicates that only 32% of organisations are culturally ready to adopt new technology. Yet, while employees anticipate new technologies will change work for the better, their employers may not be ready to deliver.

42% of Singapore respondents view that workplace technology has added to their daily frustrations, higher than the APAC average of 32%. And 41% of Singapore respondents have trouble getting the support they need to solve their technology problem at work, higher than the APAC average of 33%. Both statistics suggest that more improvement is needed by Singapore-based employers to integrate their technology in the flow of work.


Figure 1. Effects of Technology on the Employee Experience in APAC Countries. Data from the O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2021 Global Culture Report.

We also found technological readiness is strongly tied to an organisation’s culture, and the culture largely determines how successful new technology will be. In our research, we identified four critical factors that we call the Cultural Technology Innovation Readiness (CTIR) Index, as shown in the model below.

Figure 2. Cultural Technology Innovation Readiness (CTIR) Index. Four factors connected to culture and success as cited in the O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2021 Global Culture Report.

Our data indicate when employees rate the organisation highly in each of the four CTIR components, there is a 29% decrease in the perception that technology is hard to use at the organization and a 70% increase in the likelihood to believe new technology will create—rather than eliminate—jobs.

THE HR LEADER’S EXPANDED ROLE

HR leaders can and should play a significant role in technology selection and implementation. As advocates for healthy workplace cultures and the overall employee experience, they are well suited to ensure CTIR readiness and take on important matters related to technologies that should be integrated into culture. As Laszlo Bock, CEO at Humu, states, “Solving culture at scale is the future of HR tech.”

HR leaders must think differently about technology, seeing it as a living part of their culture and intentionally implementing it in ways that truly empower employees and improve their day-to-day experiences.

Before purchasing or implementing any new technology for your organisation, here are a few critical questions to ask:

  • Why are we implementing this new technology?
  • How will it impact our people?
  • How does it improve their everyday experience?
  • How might it be a burden or negatively impact their experience?
  • How does it integrate with existing tools employees already use?
  • How does it affect employees’ work output?
  • Does it make things easier for them or help them be more productive?
  • How does it help people connect to our organisation’s purpose?
  • Does it enable employees to better interact and collaborate?
  • How does it reflect or strengthen our culture?

EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT IS CRUCIAL

Our research also shows that the success or adoption of new technology is highest when decision-makers seek employee input and take their feedback. So, ask employees to sit in during vendor demos and beta test new tools. Include them in rollout and change management plans. Recruit them as champions to help engage others. And don’t forget to include input from all segments of your employee population.

THE BUSINESS IMPACT OF INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGY

When technology is integrated with culture, organisations see a significant impact on business results:

  • 5x higher employee engagement
  • 4x higher likelihood of growing revenue
  • 63% better customer service
  • 9% lower likelihood of employee layoffs
  • 47% lower likelihood of an employee looking to leave
  • 35% decrease in incidences of moderate to severe burnout

Data from the O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2021 Global Culture Report.

The path is clear: If you treat employee experience and culture as the North Star, your technology initiatives will end up more successful. 

For more insights into integrating technology into your workplace culture, watch O.C. Tanner’s on-demand webinar, “The Future of Technology and Recognition” or read about the latest workplace culture trends in our 2021 Global Culture Report


With 30 years of game-changing research, business development, and leadership expertise, Gary works with top organisations around the world to help them achieve a lasting cultural impact. As a vice president at O.C. Tanner, Gary’s insights are sought after by multiple Fortune 100 companies, and he has spoken to thousands of business leaders at events throughout his career.

In addition to coauthoring Appreciate: Celebrating People, Inspiring Greatness, Gary frequently features on inc.com, entreprenuer.com, and Forbes. Prior to joining O.C. Tanner, Gary held leadership positions at Frito-Lay, Kellogg’s, and Franklin-Covey. He holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University as well as a BS in marketing from Brigham Young University. Linkedin

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