Technology is a great enabler and in the past couple of years I’ve been writing a lot around how technology is changing business to help utilise the company intranet to gain more productive and essentially, happier, workers.
Recently, new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella offered his vision for the future: the idea of people centric IT. However, there’s nothing new about the term or concept of a people centric organisation, it’s one that I’ve been writing about myself for a couple of years and one that I firmly believe to be the route that innovative organisations need to be taking.
As the term implies, people centric organisations are interested in the people that work for them and know that in order to gain the best from people, you have to foster and nurture them. Within an organisation, this means a few things can be implemented to help do this, such as:
- A social intranet
- Collaborative workspaces
- Remote working
- BYOD (Bring your own Device)
- E-learning systems
Using technology to enable happier workers
In general, employees that feel they have a voice within the organisation that they work for are more productive, happier and take less time off sick. In order to help employees to feel that they have a voice, often it’s a case of ensuring that they are engaging with the company intranet.
We all know how successful social media has been for marketing and consumers, but did you know that a social intranet can also be employed which allows for the same level of success for internal business.
Social media and business
A social intranet implements social elements such as profile pages, blogs, wikis, chat and more and allows employees the chance to get to know one another and senior staff through the network. Imagine the scenario; an employee has seen the CEO around but has no personal contact with them and doesn’t feel that the CEO even really knows he’s there. A CEO who blogs once a week and invites employees to make comments on the blog therefore has an unprecedented opportunity to really connect with employees, take on board comments and reply in such a way that the employee feels that he’s valued.
What’s more, the CEO has just announced on their blog that they’re implementing a new e-learning platform on the intranet. This will give all employees the opportunity to take further training which could put them in line for promotion.
The employee who feels that he’s connected, and that he can learn and further his career through on-the-job learning is one that’s going to stay, and grow, with the organisation.
The growing industry of e-learning
The e-learning industry is growing extremely rapidly in corporate and educational circles and that’s because it has high value to companies and their employees, as well as educational institutions.
An e-learning system is generally made up of an LMS (Learning Management System) and thanks to the nature of the modern internet, it can now be accessed across a wealth of devices, often from any location with a connection. Workers can learn on their mobile on the way to work, or they can learn at home when they feel motivated, or of course in the office. The point is, workers that learn through e-learning systems are not limited to a classroom environment and so need less supervision and management.
All of the learning material and answers of the participants are kept on the LMS and can be accessed and marked by learning managers at their convenience.
Tin Can and gamification
Not only is the industry one that’s growing rapidly, it’s also one which is evolving at a blistering pace too. Tin Can is set to replace SCORM as the technological industry standard and this means that learning via mobile can be managed better. Further to this, a lot of inroads into gamification have also been made, which means that elements of gaming are taken and applied to corporate courses to further engage the learner.
These can be as simple as a scoring system, which of course motivates learners to want to perform better than their peers, or it can get a whole lot more complicated. Using gamification is nothing particularly new, the military and defence sectors have been doing so for years, but it’s now finding its way into the corporate arena more thoroughly.
Investing in people
What all of this comes down to, and what a truly people centric organisation should be aiming for, is investment in people. The world of work is changing and evolving thanks to technology and it’s already becoming common to hear about the concept of knowledge workers. However, it’s impossible to discover and nurture talent that exists within the business if you do nothing to engage and connect with the people that work for you.
By investing in social, learning, collaboration and understanding employees, a business can find itself in a position where it has happy workers all giving their best and a pool of talent ripe for promotion and chomping on the bit to be innovative. Knowledge workers don’t just show up, they’ve all gained that knowledge from somewhere, so why not make your business the one that provides it?
I believe that those businesses that show they value their workers, give them a voice and an outlet for innovation and creativity, will be the ones that essentially win out.
Introverts, extroverts and HSPs
Whilst carrying out research around these subjects, one that interested me hugely was the subject of introverts in the workplace. There’s a lot of reading out there that can be done on the subject, which was kicked off by Susan Cain in her 2012 book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking. This book led to a huge amount of conversation online surrounding the introvert, who is often overlooked due to their natural state of preferring quiet to noise and gaining energy from introspection. Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from people and this difference can lead to obvious issues in the workplace.
With this in mind, a truly people centric organisation will seek to recognise the differing personality types and tailor the job, or office to fit. A lot of the talk on the subject has for this reason looked at the recent trend towards the open office and how this affects the introvert. Let’s face it, if you are (like me) an introvert, then the constant chatter of the extrovert is going to affect your work. Likewise, for the extrovert themselves, if they can’t gain the energy that they need by bouncing off others, then their work too will be affected.
So say you had an e-learning system on which a simple personality test had been set up as a part of the induction course. Easy, you now know what kind of person you’re dealing with and where it’s going to be best to place them in the office; a quieter corner or a buzzing pod.
Remote working, BYOD and more
Of course, the introvert could also choose to work from home a few days a week in order to enable a good dose of innovative introspection. Remote working is on the rise and increasingly, the lines between work and home are becoming blurred, not least because our personal devices are all too often those we also use for work.
Remote working can make for a highly flexible workforce. One that perhaps works when they want and need to in order to better fit in family commitments. This again makes for a happier workforce, especially for those who do have families who they feel they never see. And a worker that feels valued and respected is one that is going to give their job their all.
There are many ways that technology is changing the ways that we do business and I’ve really just scratched the surface of what is a huge subject when it comes to all of the things I’ve talked about today. The concept of a people centric organisation is an exciting one and one that all businesses should consider. Whilst not all of us have the means to be able to implement learning systems, or social intranets, we all do have the ability to trust and nurture staff.
Any business that wants to retain staff, who don’t call in sick all the time, who are innovative and love to learn, should make some time to look into how they can invest in the people that work for them if they are to ensure that they are looking firmly to the future.