• Posted 20 November
  • 4 m read

Tears, Tissues and Tech: the HR balancing act of managing employee wellbeing and workplace tech

By Joy Poole

Caught between managing employee wellbeing during a pandemic on the one hand and gatekeeping accelerated tech adoption on the other, it’s safe to say that HR Directors are burning the candle at both ends these days.  

The two challenges are, of course, intertwined. There is mounting evidence of poor workplace tech leading to bad mental health, which in turn costs businesses worldwide $1 trillion each year in lost productivity, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics. 

Even before this tumultuous year, the WHO had inducted the epidemic of work-related “burnout” into their International Classification of Diseases. HR departments need to be keenly aware that when implementation is mishandled, workplace technology only exacerbates the problem, introducing stress rather than simplifying tasks as is so often promised. 

This is all to say that HR’s management of technology has truly become ‘make-or-break’ to the employee experience. This is true under normal under circumstances, but even more so amid the monumental shift in ways of working we’re seeing as a result of global pandemic. A tech-enabled HR department will be key to monitoring how teams are responding to remote and hybrid work, identifying problems that are impeding employee well-being and productivity, and solving these challenges.  

Whether or not HR departments and their directors will be allocated the resources and support required to step up to this challenge remains to be seen. In a 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey of 9000 business and HR leaders worldwide, 80 percent said that worker wellbeing was important or very important for company success over the next 12 to 19 months, yet only 12 percent felt ready to address the issue.
 

Staying human in a tech-driven world  

HR has a leading role in finding harmony between people and technology, and helping the workforce adapt to a fast-changing world of consumer and business demands. From improving connectivity to tracking sentiment, emerging technology has huge potential – as long as HR directors maintain sight of its human impact.

  • Bridge your communication gaps
    With work becoming increasingly virtualised, the connectivity and integration of work technologies – from collaboration tools like MIRO and Asana to communication tools and knowledge sharing repositories – is taking on a new importance. This is of course a human challenge as well as a technological one, and new technology does not equal meaningful human interactionAs well as marshaling the operation of communication tools, HR has a crucial role in encouraging an open culture that recognises the value of knowledge sharing and consistent, honest communication.
     
  • Become data-savvy – but remain human
    It can be easy to lose sight of your people-focused goals amidst all the data you collect, particularly when grappling with a sudden increase in new apps and platforms. Rather than reducing employees to numbers, this is about finding the right balance between data-driven incentivisation, and human understanding. By collecting and analyzing information across the wider company, gauging sentiment or eliciting anonymous feedback, HR tech can pinpoint and aggregate trendsWithout this people-centric approach, identifying and acting on genuine employee expectations and concerns becomes virtually impossible
     
  • Embed your code of ethics into new tech
    Where humans and technology intersect, ethical questions crop up. Indeed, eighty-five percent of respondents in the Deloitte study believed the future of work raised ethical challenges but only 27 percent said they had clear policies and leaders in place to manage them. Each piece of technology should be assessed thoroughly for its ethical implications; embedding values such as transparency into workplace tech not only solidifies your company principles but also builds trust and engagement in new tools. 

Managing and guiding the workforce through a time of change is a delicate process, full of ethical and cultural quandaries. The adoption of technology should be viewed in the same way. For HR directors, it’s about asking the right questions to ensure the solution is solving a real business problem and improving rather than complicating the lives of employees. 

Get in touch to discuss what an amazing employee experience could look like for the future of your organisation.

Posted by Joy Poole on November 20, 2020 in Business Resilience category
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