Corporate Culture and Technology: What’s the Connection?
By Candace Coleman, CultureWise Content Manager
What part of your life isn’t affected by technology? Right…you can’t think of any. We operate in a technologically saturated world unimaginable just a few generations ago. And the IT field is evolving at such a rapid pace that even tech-heads have a hard time keeping up with the latest trends and products.
As mind-boggling as it is, business leaders are navigating the expanding universe of technology because they know it’s vital for their companies to remain competitive. All the new tools provide efficient and innovative ways to link people and work processes in a world where rapid, effective connection is more important than ever.
The challenge for most people is to determine which tech tools they need. With such an overwhelming array of options that address everything from sales automation to organizational culture, how do you choose what’s best for your company? The question to ask yourself is: What aspects of my business will technology improve?
What Tech Tools Does Your Company Need?
For most business owners, the practical uses for technology are obvious. Enterprise resource planning, accounting, payroll, customer resource management, and inventory control are examples of concrete areas where IT can systematically raise efficiencies. But technology doesn’t just facilitate nuts-and-bolts operations.
One of the biggest lessons that COVID taught us was the value of business communication platforms. Some companies had already jumped on the Zoom or Microsoft Teams bandwagon before the pandemic. But by April 2020, everyone was clamoring for communication methods that would allow a remote workforce to function effectively.
As the health crisis begins to recede, business leaders recognize the lasting value of these communication tools. Now they’re a permanent part of strategic operations for most companies.
And the tech tools that have redefined communication in the business world are simultaneously impacting organizational culture.
What Does Technology Have to Do with Culture?
When asked about the importance of corporate culture, most CEOs rank it high on their priority list. But if you also ask them how technology impacts this vital facet of their businesses, they often don’t see the connection. That’s because many of them view culture as a “soft” part of their organization that doesn’t play a practical role in how the business functions.
But culture isn’t an abstract concept outlined by company values or employee perks. Culture is defined by the attitudes and behaviors that represent norms within an organization—and it’s tightly interwoven within every operational area.
By harnessing communication technology to improve and reinforce organizational culture, business leaders have the most efficient way to advance their companies across the board.
3 Important Ways Technology Enhances Culture
A company’s culture resides in how people interact, their work ethic, and their commitment to the organization. Here are three examples of how technology can be used to optimize corporate culture.
Collaboration and Feedback
Teamwork is one of the pillars supporting a strong culture. Technology that includes optimized video conferencing, group chat capabilities, and shared project tools makes it easier to collaborate more effectively. Tech platforms like these empower company culture by providing more channels for meaningful interaction.
- They’re team-building tools for staff who may work in the same building but rarely interface with one another.
- They help people working remotely or in different company locations to feel connected and see things from a broader perspective.
- They provide a portal that allows management to be more accessible with greater frequency.
- They offer innovative ways for people to connect on a personal level and have fun.
Managers can also use technology to consistently dialogue with team members about what’s working and what needs to improve. Instead of annual performance reviews, tech tools provide pathways for regular feedback and mentorship so people can fine-tune their efforts in real-time.
Employees are reassured to know what they need to do to stay on track, which relieves a lot of stress. And stress erodes culture.
An IT-based communication web fortifies culture by building a team mentality, overcoming barriers, and aligning expectations.
There are few things that we can do within a business organization that are as powerful as providing meaningful acknowledgment and appreciation. As CultureWise founder and CEO David Friedman wrote in his first book, Fundamentally Different:
“When we’re acknowledged for work well done, we feel happier, more energized, more positive, and we’re more likely to repeat that behavior that generated that acknowledgment.”
The overall culture, which is defined by behaviors, is improved when employees are recognized for doing good work, having a great attitude, and pitching in to help others. But Friedman goes on to point out that while showing appreciation is a simple idea—doing it effectively is more complex.
He stresses the significance of meaningful appreciation versus the “everyone gets a trophy” mindset. And he also emphasizes the importance of showing genuine appreciation right away and doing it consistently. Delayed or sporadic displays of recognition are less impactful. And that’s where technology can make a world of difference.
New tech tools allow multiple, innovative ways to acknowledge staff and for them to recognize peers. Showing appreciation as soon as possible has always been powerful. Technology allows people to do it faster than ever before on many levels:
- Directly acknowledging an individual
- Celebrating team success
- Noting accomplishments for the record
When people are recognized for their contributions, they are incentivized to keep up the good work. They’re also more likely to show appreciation for others and set a good example.
IT recognition programs are valuable tools to help employees feel noticed and respected—and they reinforce behaviors that drive a strong culture.
Few buzzwords are more prevalent in the business world than “engagement,” which is defined as the commitment an employee has to an organization and its goals. It’s a hot topic because weak engagement usually leads to mediocre work and costly turnover. Cool perks, and of course good pay, help keep people on board. But deep engagement is generated by a vibrant company culture.
Along with internal culture drivers like fluid collaboration and meaningful recognition, a more personal factor weighs heavily in employee engagement:
People want to work for a company with values that line up with their own—one that strives to positively impact the world.
Many businesses are built on meaningful principles, but they often seem intangible to the people who work there. To ignite engagement, a company’s commitment to these principles needs to be shared broadly, and employees should be invited to participate in initiatives that bring them to life. IT offers the means to build a community platform with various ways to plug in and be a part of the experience.
These accessible tools can help workers develop a sense of purpose and fulfillment. When people are proud of where they work, they’re much more engaged.
Using Technology to Teach Culture
Whether it’s driving a car, playing an instrument, or running a race, people become proficient in a skill by learning what it takes to succeed and then practicing until they have it down. The same principle holds when establishing and maintaining behaviors that will make a company and the individuals who work there successful.
Technology is the fastest, most consistent way to teach and reinforce the behaviors that drive a high performing culture.
It gives leaders the ability to provide teaching content in the small, frequent doses required to achieve internalization. To hit home and stick, this content should be communicated in various ways. The most efficient tech tool to coach people about culture is a smartphone app, like the one developed by CultureWise.
An app is not only the most user-friendly method of teaching; it’s also in the hands of everyone who works at a company—including people who rarely, if ever, sit in front of a computer. In the past, it may have been hard to consistently deliver messaging to folks in this group. But an app is equally accessible for everyone.
The Right Tool for the Job
We’ve all probably used makeshift tools to do household tasks—it usually doesn’t go too well. While there is such a thing as having too many tools, using the right tool to perform a specific function is important to the outcome you want to achieve.
Many business tech tools are broad-based and have multiple capabilities. Lots of overall operating systems and communications platforms fall in this category. While IT products like these can be extremely beneficial, they often don’t offer everything necessary to maximize a specific area.
This is especially true when it comes to teaching and reinforcing the behaviors that form a company’s culture.
As efficient as they may be in many areas, large-scale programs aren’t designed to target the nuances of culture that can make a significant difference in how effectively a company operates. But an IT tool like CultureWise was created for that job. It offers a structured, methodical approach to improve organizational culture for a reasonable cost that works for most companies.
The bottom line is that technology not only enhances corporate culture, it’s also the best means to teach and sustain it. The key is to choose the right technological tools to help your company’s culture flourish.