Advances in technology have changed the way people communicate. Smartphones are woven into the fabric of today’s busy lifestyle, and digital exchange of information and images is standard for individuals and business. New tools specifically centered around employee communication are coming to market, and future workplaces are expected to rely on technology for most day-to-day collaboration in coming years.
Enhancing the Employee Experience With New Technology
The benefits of new technology are attractive to business leaders. These applications are specifically designed to increase efficiency and productivity levels. However, some HR specialists are hesitant to adopt digital communication platforms due to engagement concerns. They worry that losing the human touch in communication between colleagues will reduce staff members’ commitment to the organization. Instead, they rely on traditional communication methods like calls, in-person meetings and standard cubicle-style environments.
Unfortunately, these outdated communication systems come with drawbacks. In short, employees have pulled away from previously popular methods of making and keeping personal connections in favor of making friends through digital technology. Since 2011, the percentage of people who use smartphones has grown from 35 percent to 77 percent, and a remarkable 98 percent of millennials are smartphone users. Nearly 40 percent of millennials report they engage with their smartphones more than they do with people, and the most used smartphone apps are Facebook and Facebook Messenger.
Today’s workers enjoy making connections through technology, and their personal relationships are dominated by texting, instant messaging and social media. This extends to the workplace, and these employees naturally gravitate to companies with technology-based cultures where they feel most comfortable.
The Truth About Digital Connections
While pre-millennial generations remember a time before digital communication, millennials grew up with the internet. Often referred to as “digital natives,” millennials have expressed a preference for digital communication tools. They are frustrated by legacy systems, and they expect employers to offer the same high-speed experience they get on their personal devices.
A joint research project from Nimble Storage and Oxford Economics focused on exactly how much importance millennial workers place on digital tools at work. Of the individuals surveyed, 77 percent stated that their productivity is impacted by “sub-optimal application performance,” and 50 percent said that they have abandoned apps that run too slowly. An Adobe study had similar findings, with 81 percent of millennials indicating that state-of-the-art technology is more important in their work environment than amenities or perks.
Choosing the Right Communication Technology
Implementing digital communication tools can improve the employee experience by making it easier for colleagues to stay in touch. However, the key to dramatically increasing employee engagement is implementing high-quality digital communication tools that offer the same features they enjoy on their personal devices. Consider advanced technology that incorporates news feeds, messaging and customized pages, along with standard social intranet functions like an employee directory and a section for company updates. Some of the most popular platforms offer employees an opportunity to publish blog posts, and virtual teams can build relationships by sharing videos and images. Such features fill the need for personal connections at work.
Transitioning to a new platform can be disruptive to day-to-day operations, so minimizing downtime is a priority. The success of any implementation plan relies heavily on the speed and ease of the rollout. Ensure that any solution you consider can be integrated with your current software. Finally, communication platforms are only effective when employees use them. Choose an option with an intuitive user interface so that staff members will log on and get started right away.
As digital communication becomes the standard, business leaders and HR professionals are concerned about employee engagement. They worry that isolating individuals in front of computer monitors removes the human element of collaboration and teamwork, decreasing staff members’ commitment to the job. However, when tools are properly integrated into the digital workplace, many employees feel more connected with colleagues – not less. There are more opportunities for interaction, which ultimately increases engagement levels.
Transitioning to digital tools is a change from the traditional definition of “human touch”, but the change doesn’t have to be negative. New technology keeps human relationships strong through digital connections.