17% of managers believe themselves to be ready to manage a workforce of humans, robots and artificial intelligence working side by side. – Deloitte, 2017 Human Capital Trends.
While that may conjure images of Star Wars and some far off future, the future is now. Robots may not look like Rosie from the Jetsons, but do exist in the form of iPad checkout systems, automatic hamburger flippers, and customer service chat systems. Artificial intelligence tools like speech recognition, self-driving cars and marketing automation are an increasingly important piece of growing organizations. In almost every industry, technological innovations are changing the way we work.
“Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and these innovations have completely transformed the way we live, work and communicate. Organizations should shift their entire mind-set and behaviors to ensure they can lead, organize, motivate, manage and engage the 21st century workforce, or risk being left behind. To rewrite the rules on a broad scale, HR should play a leading role in helping the company redesign the organization by bringing digital technologies to both the workforce and to the HR organization itself.” – Josh Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
Our workforce is more culturally diverse and internationally dispersed than ever before, making it essential to learn to communicate effectively through technology. While learning to collaborate in virtual environments takes time and effort, we now have effective training and employee engagement tools to more effectively manage such a diverse workforce.
HR departments are now implementing programs and technology in their organizations to help manage this shift and offer support for each individual from recruitment all the way to retirement.
Whether you have an employee recognition program in place or are considering implementing your first, recognizing program flexibility is key in developing a successful program that will flow with your organization and individual locations.
How to Build a Dynamic Company Culture With a Diverse Workforce
In this unprecedented time in workplace history, we have 4 very different generations of employees of varying cultural backgrounds all attempting to work side by side towards a common goal. Read more about shaping your recognition program to fit the multigenerational workplace in last week’s post. >>
Working with remote employees, contractors and other locations often means working with those of a different ethnic backgrounds than our own. We may struggle to speak in a common language or misinterpret instruction due to cultural differences.
A large part of company culture is cultivating a diverse and open-minded workforce. Because our workplaces are increasingly diverse and dispersed, management must be continually engaged with employees, sharing and receiving feedback daily. Make conversations about company culture and workplace procedures a regular topic in meetings, one-on-ones, quarterly reviews, conference calls and even at the water cooler.
Look into your employee recognition program and automation systems to find data points that can be used to evaluate your company culture including retention, employee satisfaction and productivity. You might consider using built-in polling and survey tools to circulate questionnaires on a quarterly basis or crowd source the details of your next employee appreciation event.
Change #1) Learning to Work Collaboratively Through Technology
Technology has enabled us to work collaboratively from all over the world, growing our teams and exponentially expanding the possibilities. Employees might work remotely one day a week, team up with another branch location on a regional project or interface with foreign contractors.
Before launching into a project with a new team, it is important to establish common ground. Workers from different parts of the world (or even the state or province) may have different interpretations of the same words, varying background knowledge or contrasting beliefs and assumptions of what they share. The Naval Postgraduate School suggests finding common ground before starting work to “allow individuals to communicate efficiently by skipping descriptions of things that are assumed to be known,” in their 2016 study, Working Out Loud: Culture, Technology, and Communication Practices of a Global Team in a Virtual World.
With an internet connection and a computer, most employees can now work anywhere and you bet they’d like to every now and again. SaaS solutions including video conferencing, task management and screen monitoring provide open access to multiple employees at the same time, allowing employees to engage in communal communication in a relatively natural manner.
When first introduced, some employees may find using the technology to be laborious and inefficient, but The Naval Postgraduate School found “more experienced users demonstrate that once it is habituated, articulation increases the efficiency as well as the effectiveness of the distributed collaboration.”
Tips for Training Employees in New Technology
It comes without surprise that for successful collaboration through technology, employees must be properly trained and supported within said technology. We discuss training preferences of employees of a multigenerational workplace in an earlier post. Read it >>
Here are just a few guidelines to keep in mind when introducing new technology to your teams. Your providers’ account team will be a valuable resource for helping implement your new technology.
- Establish common ground with all team members and managers.
- Set boundaries, rules and procedures for technology use.
- Use a combination of classroom (or video) training and on the job coaching.
- Provide resources for self help and continued learning within the tool.
- Encourage less tech savvy employees to participate through prompting.
- Provide regular, equal feedback to employees and encourage them to do the same for managers.
- Evaluate successes and pain points regularly and make adjustments as needed.
Virtual teams with thorough training and consistent practices can outperform in-person teams, making it possible to allow employees the autonomy and flexibility in their work that they desire. Studies by the Naval Postgraduate School show that, over time, virtual team performance can improve as individuals’ perceptions shift and they learn and adjust communication technologies.
Use your recognition programs to help employees adapt to new technologies and keep the door open for back and forth communication to ensure everyone is successful. Your program should encourage employees to help each other and provide a forum for discussing pain points and potential solutions.
Change #2) The Changing Workforce Needs Recognition
Millennials raised on social media and digital technologies are resourceful and independent, but require regular feedback to help guide their development. These multi taskers have grown accustomed to feedback and recognition through chore charts, pop quizzes and online education programs that provide instant test results and online chat rooms with professors.
These young employees like to know how they are performing on regular basis and value a manager who acts as a coach, providing constant feedback and fair, direct communication to help them achieve their potential. They enjoy being able to track their progress and strive to achieve set goals and top previous benchmarks.
Employee recognition systems make it possible for large organizations to respond to all generations in the workplace through tools like gamifaction and online training while also bonding the organization together, regardless of age and location, by a common social wall, goals and public recognition. This can be especially effective for teams spread out across multiple locations and those with remote employees.
A rewards and recognition program provides structure and clear communication of company values and goals while recognizing employees who truly make a difference. These programs help build more motivated employees, more connected organizations and goal-oriented management. They’ll also allow you to track results and shape your program to create measurable change quicker.
Change #3) Developing a More Sustainable Work Environment
Environmental concerns are another rising concern among employees. People want to work for ethical organizations that care about their environmental impact. Companies are reducing packaging, switching to more sustainable ingredients and offering trade in programs to safely dispose of electronics, but what can you do to foster a more sustainable environment at work?
A study done by the Madison Gas and Electric Company found that on average, US companies spend approximately 29% of operating expenses on utilities for the building including water, electricity, and gas. That number can be drastically reduced in a number of ways.
Reduce Office Energy Consumption
- Shut down electronics and turn off lights when not in use
- Replace old computers, lights and break room appliances with energy efficient models
- Open windows instead of pumping the air conditioner
- Introduce shared workspaces
- Offer telecommuting options
Your employees want a better work/life balance that allows them to work remotely every once in awhile and allowing them to do so will reduce your operation costs. If possible, try experimenting with work from home Fridays. Don’t forget to document the savings of a day without operation costs and the rate of change in productivity. Lean on your recognition platform to increase communication on out of the office days and track results.
You might also consider adding recycling and composting bins in the lunchroom, starting a battery-recycling program or investing in the health of your employees through a wellness program.
Whatever you do, make it a team effort. Encourage employees to bring their own advocacy to the table to suggest other sustainable improvements to your office. Increasing communication about environmental impact will increase employee satisfaction and provide an attractive aspect for recruiting new faces. Don’t forget to recognize employees for their sustainable ideas and actions through your recognition system!
Adapt to the Many Environmental and Technological Developments in the Workplace or Fall Behind
Whether you like it or not, the workplace is evolving at a rapid pace and it’s time to sink or swim.
CEOs need HR managers to actively seek solutions to help them adapt to societal, technological and environmental changes to attract and retain talent and maintain a productive workplace. Employee recognition programs have become an essential tool for the multigenerational workplace and have proven to increase employee satisfaction, communication and innovation.
Keep in mind that your employees, industry and environment are in a constant flux, striving to grow and achieve faster that you can possibly plan without appropriate data points. Use your recognition program not only to motivate and bond your teams, but also as a temperature reading of your organization. Use results to shape your processes to fit the ever-changing environment and safeguard your company’s future.