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When technology makes us more human

Mark Lloyd
hr

Rather than technology driving the human out of the organisation, innovative HR teams in dispersed organisations are using their technology to create organisational relationships that are more human than ever. Contributor Mark Lloyd, Director of Customer Experience – Redware.

The perennial issue of employee engagement is set to become a larger issue for many organisations in the coming years. As employee expectations change and location-independent working and the gig economy become more prevalent workforce models, engaging people with organisational values and processes will become a bigger challenge than ever.

However, the technologies driving these changing expectations are by nature communications technologies, and they are already being used to improve how employees view their relationship with the organisation. The use of HR technology pioneered by automotive manufacturers provides lessons for all of us in using technology to make our organisations more human. These models, developed for situations where relationships with frontline staff are developed almost exclusively through technology, show how we can create a new future of work with technology enabling more human relationships.

Rather than isolating employees, mobile technology allows organisations to connect in increasingly meaningful ways with their remote employees. Combining mobile learning with other technologies including company app stores and big data is helping employees feel closer to the organisation and increasing engagement. One company saw a 60  increase in learner engagement simply by using a new Learning Management System (LMS), showing the positive impact technology can have on an organisation’s people and culture.

Mobile learning technology is being used in a range of new ways, including video onboarding that fosters an emotive response to being welcomed by a senior leader or member of the board, significantly increasing engagement and needing a simple time investment of one video recording. Connections with leadership can also be fostered through mobile communications; rather than all-staff emails, mobile communications tools allow for documents and messages to be sent only to the relevant locations or job roles. This again helps employees receive personalised messaging so that they feel they matter as an individual to the organisation.

Advances in learning technology may also keep your people connected to your organisation. For many of us, when we need quick information at work, the immediate response is to turn to our favourite search engine. But what if, instead, your people’s first response was to search your LMS for the information, and be presented not only with how to carry out the task, but also guidance on internal policies? For example, rather than a generic website advising how to set up an email signature, people could be presented with how to set up a signature and the specific template they should use.

Current technology already allows organisations to target learning to people in certain job roles, departments or locations, but artificial intelligence could make it even easier to get the right information in front of people whenever they need it, without a search as we think of it today. This has the double advantage of again increasing engagement with your organisation, as employees turn to you as a source of guidance, and of freeing people from mundane questions like ‘where do I find the holiday policy?’ to focus on interactions that can really add value to both the organisation and the employee.

As well as humanising relationships within organisations, learning technology is being harnessed to improve customer engagement. A big concern for automotive retailers, and retailers in general, is how customer buying patterns are moving increasingly online. Retailers are therefore focusing their efforts on providing a unique service and their unique assets – their people.

Some exciting trends are already emerging from mobile learning technology, particularly combining point-of-need training on a mobile device with video content and detailed product specifications, so that salespeople can offer a customer experience based on service rather than knowledge regurgitation, powered by their HR technology.

Point-of-need training can also be used to improve internal engagement. It improves the flow of information around the organisation, and keeps information readily accessible. This allows meetings to move away from simple information sharing sessions and creates a meeting culture of collaboration and decision-making.

Technology is going to further impact organisational communications in the next few years. Machine learning may contribute to a shift in how big data is distributed and key points highlighted for individuals as it becomes increasingly easy to analyse. Organisations can already use communications apps to distribute data to the most relevant people, but with the growth of AI, data could be analysed automatically and systems could advise on the most relevant products and deals for a customer, or answer transactional HR questions. This will allow people to do what they do best; build the human relationships that add value to the organisation.

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