Learning & Development, Technology

People-Centered Tech Improves Organizational Resilience

A look at Gallup research on employee engagement during the pandemic is revealing. You’ll notice what many people didn’t expect: Engagement levels remained steady. For all the wholly justified concern about employee isolation and a potential disconnect from company culture while working from home, workers stayed engaged, and their efforts helped employers weather COVID-related economic turmoil.

HR leaders deserve a ton of credit for this; practically overnight, they developed and deployed myriad programs to ensure employees stayed connected and engaged. Technology has been a huge help, too. Zoom check-ins, virtual happy hours, etc., have been part of the effort, as have workplace productivity and human capital management technologies that provide access to automation tools and vital data.

There’s a lesson there for organizations as they continue to navigate uncertain economic times and changing workplace configurations: Focusing on employee engagement builds organizational resilience. And in addition to proactive efforts from HR to strengthen the company culture and support employee well-being, technology can be a key component of a plan to drive higher engagement levels.

Keeping People at the Center

Recognizing that engaged employees drive organizational resilience, many organizations have stepped up with a variety of outreach and support programs. A recent survey found that per-employee spending on well-being programs increased by $238 last year, as companies responded to pandemic-related stressors and provided more support for diverse workforces.

Burnout is widely acknowledged as a serious issue that has been exacerbated by the tumult of the past few years, and it directly affects employee engagement and organizational resilience. Last year’s American Psychological Association Work and Well-being Survey found that 79% of employees had recently experienced work-related stress, and almost 3 in 5 reported negative effects at work like lower energy and motivation levels.

People-first technology can help relieve stress levels by streamlining routine tasks and providing quick access to vital information. For some employees, the idea of deploying new technology tools in the workplace, especially automation, raises concerns about being displaced. But the pandemic experience shows that technology can support people by providing new ways to collaborate and stay connected.   

Using Tech Tools to Free People for a Higher Purpose

In addition to the collaboration and productivity platforms companies have relied on to facilitate work during the pandemic, there are other technologies that can relieve the burden of mundane tasks and help employees focus on what’s most important. Onboarding typically requires significant paperwork, and companies that provide technology tools to automate tedious data entry eliminate that burden.

Providing self-service tools can also streamline administrative tasks and give employees access to the HR information they need when they need it. It can be frustrating to have a question about a personnel issue or need to update information and have to wait for someone in HR to get back to you. As consumers dealing with businesses off the clock, we’re used to self-service platforms, and employees expect a similar level of convenience at work. That’s another way tech can help employees save time.

A self-service platform that has real-time employee information can also be helpful for workforce planning. For example, if project managers can view skills and certifications, employee locations, and time-off requests all in one place, they can more easily put together teams rather than gathering that data themselves from the individuals and managers involved.

Recognizing the Link Between Engagement and Resilience

These are just a few examples of how people-centered tech tools can help streamline routine tasks and give employees access to the resources they need to plan for the future, make needed information changes and requests, and much more. Many businesses already have the data stored in one or more systems; it’s a matter of integrating information and providing tech tools that enable access.

The productivity, communication, and collaboration platforms people used during the pandemic are a proof point for human-centered technology that enables employees and managers to touch base regardless of location and engage in teamwork across time zones. We know from experience that technology doesn’t decrease engagement; used in the right way, it can enhance it.

We also know that employee engagement is a necessary precondition for organizational resilience. To elevate engagement, HR leaders are rightly focusing on offering flexibility, transparent communication, and holistic benefits that address well-being and support a diverse workforce. Tech tools have a role to play, too, lightening the load so employees can focus on what matters most.     

Lisa-Moné Lamontagne, PsyD, is the People Success Leader at Unit4. She is an experienced HR professional with progressive experience and a demonstrated ability to cultivate relationships at all levels of an organization, including leadership, mid-management, and employees. She is passionate about improving the work experience of employees and the well-being of those around her. Lamontagne holds a Doctorate of Psychology in organizational management and consulting and is a Certified Human Resources Professional (SHRM-CP).