Technology is critical to creating a healthy company culture today—but you have to make sure you’re doing it right, says Nancy Hauge, chief people experience officer at Automation Anywhere Inc., a robotic process automation software provider based in San Jose, California.
Hauge spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about how HR leaders can incorporate technologies that empower employees and don’t make them feel badly about their jobs, the role of technology in talent recruitment and retention, and why CHROs need to have a good relationship with their CIO.
If a company wants its culture to help them attract and retain great talent, what does this culture need to provide to employees?
Company culture has had a radical shift over the past two years since the onset of the pandemic. Today a culture created around respect and ensuring that all voices are heard is paramount, where ideas are valued throughout the organization. It is also important that employers provide their workforce accessibility and time with HR and corporate leaders to talk through ideas about the company that will help attract and retain talent.
To foster a strong culture, companies must offer employees and candidates opportunities to inspire, innovate, collaborate, grow and succeed. This can be achieved via strong leadership, peer-to-peer cooperation and access to helpful technologies, whether that be proper collaboration tools or automation, both offering employees support needed to enable strategic and creative work. This helps empower employees to realize their full potential in the workplace.
A successful culture must provide employees with the opportunity to unleash their potential in the workplace—and in their life’s work. Employees who feel more fulfilled and motivated will improve work experiences and productivity, while reducing employee recruitment and retention costs.
How can HR leaders create such a culture?
A lot of our work will always be people-driven, and we want to lean into the needs of our employees in order to ensure that culture matches those expectations.
Maintaining or even building employee culture these days has become a greater challenge thanks in large part to the pandemic. Our interpersonal relationships have changed because of remote work. Some feel there is less of a sense of community and the feeling of a smaller overall connection with employees, especially new ones. Technology has been helpful in bridging the gap. We may not have relied on certain tools in 2019, but 2020 taught us to embrace them to be productive and stay connected. Culture is largely dependent upon that ability.
Embracing technology has helped us uncover talents that we couldn’t explore because we were bogged down with mundane work. Companies can better harness their employees’ human ingenuity and creativity by working collaboratively with new technologies. We’ve found intelligent automation to be a valuable solution in improving company culture to ensure a people-first approach. Ultimately, this creates a culture that sets an organization up for success.
Personally, I’ve found that HR, in recent decades, has become inundated with manual processes and paperwork, limiting the amount of time and focus we can spend on an organization’s most valuable assets: its people and its culture. By using intelligent automation to eliminate the time spent on mundane tasks, streamline recruiting efforts and enhance the onboarding process, HR leaders can put the “human” back into HR and company culture—and spend more time supporting their employees in more impactful ways.
What technology or technologies do you think will have the biggest impact on businesses over the next decade?
Technology has helped evolve business—especially the role of HR—over the past decade. Not just via new innovations, but also how we are helping employees adapt to existing tools since our way of working has changed drastically in the past couple of years. A lot of this is driven by preference and behaviors. What we do know is that employees want to be a part of value-led work, especially as many are reassessing what their careers mean to them in a post-Covid world.
Intelligent automation is the future of work and of HR and will help employees feel more empowered in their day-to-day work activities. In its best form, automation allows humans to do their jobs exponentially better. Executives need to ensure that automation solutions are working with, and not against, employees and the business.
What do HR leaders need to do if they hope to maximize the positive impact of these technologies at their organization?
A close partnership between the CHRO, CTO and CIO is essential to make certain that automation and other emerging technologies are positively impacting employees. Cost and efficiency savings are only part of the picture.
Implementation of any tool requires a long-term journey of creating change—operational and cultural. As part of this journey, organization leaders need to take responsibility for empowering their workforce to use solutions like intelligent automation to be strategic, empathetic and creative if they hope to realize the full promise of intelligent automation. Part of this is committing to reskilling and upskilling employees with the knowledge and expertise they need to do their jobs more efficiently and efficiently.
Employee attitudes toward new solutions are also critical—if a solution makes employees feel bad about their job, it will likely result in negative effects.
Successful initiatives begin with employees at the center of the solution. They should see technology as a way to augment their job and enhance the employee experience, allowing them to be more strategic and creative.