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By Luke Smith

How Businesses Can Balance Technological Advancement and Employee-First Practices

Tech innovation is changing the way we live daily, from how we learn to how we work. Indeed, it’s perhaps in the world of business that the impact of technology can be most acutely felt.

Today’s workplaces, in fact, often look far different than they did just five or 10 years ago. Technology has made our businesses, and our employees, more productive and more efficient.

That doesn’t mean, however, that this sunny picture doesn’t have a potential dark side, particularly from the perspective of your employees. The advantages of tech innovation may be apparent to you and your stakeholders from the outset.

What your employees may see, though, is more of a threat than a benefit. They may see tech use as an invasion of their privacy or simply too difficult to adopt. It’s also possible that employees perceive the turn toward technology as a turn away from them and the particular skill sets they have honed over time.

The good news, though, is that you don’t have to choose between technological advancement and an employee-first organizational culture. You can have a successful workplace with both humans and robots, no matter your niche or industry. The key is to define a business model in which technology complements and enhances the capacity of your workforce, turning these innovations into a boon — not just for your bottom line but also for the people who make your company’s success happen.

Tech Innovation as an Upskilling Opportunity

You may assume that introducing new technology will instantly boost productivity, saving time and money. What your employees might be thinking about, though, is what this new tech is going to mean for them and their ability to do their job.

Above all, your employees may fear that the new technology may render their existing skills obsolete. They may wonder what the innovation will mean for their ability to contribute tangibly to the success of the company and, consequently, what that might mean for their job security.

In addition, your employees may fear that they either don’t possess the skills needed to operate the technology or that they can’t acquire those skills quickly enough to meet expectations and keep pace with company and team needs. This speaks, in general, to the uneasy alliance that has often existed between technology and the employees who dread discovering that they have been replaced by automation.

Fortunately, these fears of being replaced by a robot are often entirely unfounded. When you’re introducing robotics or automation into your company, you have a unique and important opportunity to truly demonstrate what an employee-first company culture looks like in the technological age and how such a culture can amplify the benefits of tech innovation.

For example, you might use innovation as an occasion to offer your employees an upskilling opportunity. You might, for instance, offer a pay raise or substantial bonus to employees who learn to program and control the new systems. Defining this as a pathway to future opportunities and ongoing promotion can be a wonderful incentive that takes away much of the threat employees may feel in the face of technological advancement.

Educating and Communicating With Your Employees

One of the greatest risks a business leader can face when introducing advanced technologies into their organization is adoption resistance. However, it’s not enough to simply understand why your employees may feel concerned about the new tech or resist its adoption.

You’re also probably going to need to do more than just offer them incentives for mastering the new tech. You should support them throughout all phases of the integration and implementation process.

This means that you will need to invest heavily in technology training and support. Your staff will need, for example, pre-implementation training on the use of the new technology, as well as ongoing support while they learn to put their new skills to use.

Perhaps even more importantly, they will need their managers and leaders on hand to assist and encourage them. You should pay attention to employee frustrations with tech, particularly in the early phases of the rollout, and address their questions and concerns regarding the true benefits of the technology for the company and their role in particular.

If you want to balance advanced technology and people-first culture, then you have to communicate with and support your employees as much as possible. You will need to earn their trust by demonstrating the particular benefits of the technology to their existing performance — rather than seeming to arbitrarily impose the new tech and the responsibilities that come along with it.

Stay Strategic

When you’re looking to implement advanced technologies in your business, it can be easy to go overboard. After all, there are so many tech innovations that seem to offer perfect solutions that it doesn’t take long to upend your entire tech infrastructure. However, you may also blow your budget at the same time. This isn’t good for your business or your employees.

When you’re determining what kind of tech to invest in, evaluating the functionality of the system versus the costs is key. This includes factoring in less tangible variables, such as employee training time, as well as the financial and productivity impacts of the inevitable slowdowns associated with the introduction of new technologies and systems.

This kind of pre-implementation analysis will help ensure that the tech innovations you select will actually provide a demonstrable benefit for your company, your clients, and your personnel.

The Takeaway

Now more than ever, technology is essential to success in today’s highly competitive business environment. That doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your commitment to an employee-first organizational culture. With a bit of effort and a dash of strategy, you can find the perfect balance between technological advancement and a people-focused work environment.

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How Businesses Can Balance Technological Advancement and Employee-First Practices

July 18, 2022
By Luke Smith

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