There is no arguing the fact that technology has made our lives easier. It has also resulted in organisations being able to deliver more innovative solutions in the workplace to provide for a more compelling environment. Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, cautions that this should not happen to the detriment of the company culture.
“Technology in the workplace can create many temptations among employees. Social media is a perfect example where employees spend most of their time on their favourite networking platforms instead of working. Even more concerning is how prevalent viewing pornographic material has become in the workplace,” he says.
Myburgh believes there is a growing trend among companies to focus on technology innovation and neglect the human element.
“This is happening more today than ever before and can be partly ascribed to an increasingly intensive and regulated labour environment. Employers want to move away from staff and acquire tech-driven solutions to replace people, all in a move to alleviate having to deal with issues created by unions, employee complaints, and poor performance.”
Local examples are plentiful, but it is especially in the banking sector where this becomes apparent as leading banks look to close branches in favour of investments in digital banking solutions. It all comes down to the bottom-line – technology is cheaper to maintain than the people driving it.
Return to culture
So, how can companies still reinforce their culture without relying on technology, tools and mobile apps?
“It must always be remembered that the company culture is the personality of a company and is determined by the people who work there,” says Myburgh.
“Without it, a business cannot be expected to have employee engagement and growth potential. Moreover, management needs to be aware of how technological innovation has impacted on changes taking place in the company culture. Much of this revolves around the way people do things. For example, the office hours of a traditional business used to be from 08:00 to 17:00 but embracing a mobile workforce has resulted in more people working off site, thereby fundamentally changing the culture of the organisation.”
Technology does provide benefits and opportunities, but it should always be driven by putting the people first. Staff events and team-building activities are excellent ways to promote interaction and reinforce the company culture.
Technology and applications are just tools – a means to an end. Organisations can do more to ensure their focus remains people-centric.
“This is where company culture comes in. It revolves around making the environment a pleasant place in which to work. The technological tools merely facilitate companies being geared towards their people. Some individuals want to interact with their colleagues face-to-face, while others prefer to use an app. It all depends on the person’s perception of what it means to be people-focused. Technology can therefore be used to give voice to the individual needs of employees instead of simply being a one-size-fits-all approach,” Myburgh concludes.