Improve Work Culture

Using HR Tech to Strengthen vs. Separate Your Company Culture

How many of us have ever been out to dinner and looked around to see that every person at the table is on a mobile device? Or observed a group of young people hanging out “together” while barely lifting their eyes from a screen? When we see technology being used this way (or are guilty of too much screen time ourselves) it can be easy to assume technology is pushing human beings apart.

And while internet addiction is a real thing (as one psychologist put it, we’re “carrying around a portable dopamine pump”) there is little evidence proving that technology as a whole is hurting our ability to communicate or empathize. In fact, when used correctly, it can improve these qualities.

In our personal lives, the proper use of technology can give us greater exposure to different perspectives and ways of expressing ourselves. In the workplace, HR tech can strengthen company culture by providing more avenues to engagement and socializing, while increasing productivity.

Here are five ways you can use HR technology to strengthen your company’s culture:

  1. Make Communication Comfortable (and Fun)

Many HR tech platforms include social feeds that allow employees to chat as a group, in smaller channels, or one-on-one. These channels are constantly adding fun features like emojis, reward badges, and GIFs that make using chat applications similar to how employees communicate with friends outside of work.

Far from making it less likely that employees engage with each other face-to-face, internal social channels enhance communication. They allow employees to connect, collaborate, and share a laugh, even during busy periods. They also create the freedom for employees who are introverted or not comfortable in a live, large group setting to be involved. And they create opportunities for employee recognition, particularly for remote teams.

  1. Create Transparency

Transparency is a bit of a buzzword in the modern workplace. It’s important to company culture because it implies trust, which is the basis of any strong relationship. But transparency can be hard to facilitate. First, leadership and managers across the organization must agree on what transparency means to your company. Next, a company must ensure that transparency is equitable. Is your CMO sharing profitability data with his team while your CTO is failing to share the same with hers?

HR tech can revolutionize the way you approach transparency. You can use social feeds to ensure the same messages are going company-wide, create universal trainings in your learning management system, and democratize access to your company leadership. You can also compile and share data on company culture itself, so employees can monitor progress.

  1. Prove the ROI of Culture Initiatives

When budgets are tight, it’s often employee-focused expenses such as team outings or performance awards that get the boot. These costs have long been considered as “nice-to-haves” that may bring out the smiles, but won’t bring in the revenue.

Using HR tech, you can disprove this line of thinking by tying real analytics to your company’s culture initiatives. After each culture effort, you can track real-time data to see how both performance and engagement have been affected. You can then use that data to discuss the ROI of these initiatives with your leadership. Happy employees impact the bottom line in a couple of ways. First, they are more productive. Second, they are less likely to leave (or even be absent) which means less money needs to be spent recruiting, hiring, and training replacements.

  1. Increase Benefit Engagement

HR teams spend vast quantities of time researching and implementing employee benefits that they believe will strengthen company culture. However, many employees aren’t taking advantage of those benefits from employer 401k matching to health and wellness to time off.

Often, lack of engagement with benefits is due to a lack of knowledge — the options, setup, or fine print are confusing; vacation days aren’t properly tracked; the right channels don’t exist to answer questions. HR tech can make benefits more approachable upfront and manageable in the long-term. You can use them to house benefits training opportunities, to make set-up simple, and to make it easy for employees to monitor their own usage. You can also automate reminders to both employees and managers, so that everyone knows, for example, when you need to push someone to take a vacation day.

  1. Revamp Employee Recognition

In our high-speed lives, it can be difficult to find time for “niceties” like employee recognition. And with only so much bandwidth available to focus on their teams, managers often turn their attention to employees who need extra support to succeed, assuming their top-performers are just fine on their own. While those people may be independent operators, it’s still vital that they’re acknowledged for their work. Recognition for a job well done is a huge component of employee satisfaction. In fact, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more.

HR tech can automate both the reminders for and the process of recognizing employees. It can also track these efforts so you know if some employees are being accidently left out.

HR tech is no longer just about payroll and performance management, it’s about people. When you shift your thinking of HR tech as a help, rather than a hindrance, to communication and connectivity, you’ll see your company culture shift as well.

To learn more about the evolution of HR technology, check out Achievers’ blog post A Brief History and Future of HR Technology.

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About the Author
Taylor Burke is a contributor for She’s passionate about great company cultures. When she’s not in front of her screen, you can find Taylor reading, cooking, running, or hanging with her dog—but rarely all four at once. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


Reduce Unneeded Stress

7 Ways to De-Stress Your Workplace

Stress is the single worst enemy of productivity. A stressed-out worker is usually not an efficient worker. Furthermore, high employee stress levels can lead to higher rates of employee turnover and absenteeism; who wants to work at a job with constant stress?

Not only is stress an obstacle to productivity, it can work against a business’ attempts to attain key business objectives. We all know that a business must be profitable to survive, but without recognizing the danger of pushing workers too hard, you’ll end up spending more money than necessary to counter mistakes made by tired, depressed, and stressed-out individuals.

Follow my 7 tips below to help your employees bounce back and minimize unneeded stress:

  1. Get Creative

Stress on the brain will squash creativity. It’s harder to “think outside the box” and be at your best when you’re chronically stressed. If you’re in a role that emphasizes mental nimbleness and dexterity, the consequences of stress can be a major roadblock to your (and your company’s) success.

Consider implementing a few creative strategies to lighten your employee’s mental load. Daydreaming is typically seen as a bad thing, however a few moments of structured mind-wandering every hour can help your workers recalibrate and better stay on task. Breathing exercises and “mindfulness” activities can also lessen workplace stress. Encourage workers to green up the office and bring in plants, which have a soothing effect on the soul. And if conditions allow, furry friends are also a wonderful addition to the workplace. According to WebMD, taking even a few minutes to play with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine — nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.

  1. SuggestScreenFreeTime.

The modern workforce spends most of its time glued to a computer screen. The problem with sitting in a cubicle and staring at a glowing rectangle all day is that it is a highly unnatural and inert way to spend one’s time. Interaction with other people, and with one’s environment, is needed to stay mentally healthy and engaged.

Hopefully, your employees already understand that they should step away from their screens several times throughout the day. You can take this further by suggesting the use of software tools, like F.lux, that make the light emanating from a computer monitor more natural and less straining on the eyes. This program makes the monitor show more typical “daylight” colors, which can help reduce computer screen fatigue.

  1. Offer Financial Counseling Services

Many people find that financial issues cause them the most stress. Promoting financial wellness and addressing the negative effects of money-related stress on employees is often overlooked by companies when they seek to lessen the stress level of their workforce. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) noted in its 2016 Employee Benefits survey report that 61 percent of HR professionals polled last year described their employees’ financial health as no better than “fair” and 17 percent reported their employees were “not at all financially literate.”

Given the statistics above, there is much you can do to help your employees meet their financial goals. Consider bringing on a financial counseling professional that can assist your employees in determining their financial health and offer personalized, actionable advice. If adding staff isn’t an option, try designing a financial wellness program that motivates employees to be more proactive in saving for retirement, purchasing a home, or paying back student loans. You will find that as your employees gain clarity about their financial situation, they will not only be less stressed, but possibly inspire them to improve other aspects of their lives – including their productivity at work.

  1. Engage and Recognize Your Employees at Work

Higher employee engagement leads to higher employee productivity and happiness, so it’s critical to find ways to engage your workforce. One method used by many companies is establishing a recognition and rewards program. Recognition has been found to be the number one driver of employee engagement, so by building a culture of recognition, and having employees feel appreciated for what they do, you’ll see more positive social engagement and better performance. Encourage your employees to take time out of their day to de-stress by recognizing others for their hard work. A simple “thank you” can go a long way!

  1. Involve Your Employees in Exercise

There is nothing that gets people moving and motivated like a physical wellness program. Exercise is healthy and stimulating for both body and mind. There are various ways that you can get your employees involved in daily exercise habits that help them fight off illness, obesity, and other physical manifestations of stress. Could your company partner with a local gym, or give membership discounts to employees? Is there a yoga teacher willing to offer in-office sessions? Options such as these require minimal financial and time commitments for your company, so instituting at least one of them seems like a no-brainer.

  1. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements

Many studies have shown that flexible work arrangements can benefit employers as much as they do employees. Remote work and other flexible options can be a huge boost to many worker’s mental well-being, which in turn boosts your company’s bottom line.

Most people make money to support their families, but the long work hours needed to earn it mean a constant tension between work and familial responsibilities. Flexible work options, such as telecommuting, part-time roles, and flexible scheduling, can have a major impact on an employee’s quality of life. In fact, just the idea of a flexible work arrangement helped some companies improve their employee retention rates – before workers even started taking part. That’s right, simply by suggesting the concept of more flexible work, you can indirectly encourage employees to work harder and stay with your company longer.

  1. Promote Healthy Living Habits at Work

Remember that your employees’ health and welfare is key to increasing productivity and fulfilling the goals of your company. By offering free healthy snacks and encouraging your employees to maintain healthy habits at work, you are helping establishing the groundwork of a healthy lifestyle that could transfer over to the rest of their lives. As they say, you are what you eat – so by making sure there are healthy (even organic) options in the break room or at company meetings, you’re doing everyone’s bodies and minds a huge service.

Banishing stress from your workplace is an ongoing battle, but learning how to identify the symptoms of burn out and fatigue is a step in the right direction. Help your employees stay mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally healthy, and you’ll see your efforts reflected in a better bottom the company back in dividends.

To learn more about how employee wellness can lessen tension in the workplace, check out 5 Ways Wellness Programs Can Enhance Employee Engagement.

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About the Author
Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, where she continues to live and work.