Impacts of Infrastructure Technology on Workplace Culture — and Employee Retention

Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute advisory board member Dennis Miller, AVP of human resources and benefits administration at The Claremont Colleges.

We have seen many reports on the current and near-term job market and, for many occupations, it looks great for employees who may be looking for a job upgrade, and perhaps not so good for many employers.

Over the years, many books and articles have been published about workplace culture — but how exactly does technology impact an organization striving to create and sustain a great company culture?

Surely, there is no simple answer to this question. And, this is especially true when considering there are at least four different generations in the workforce, each with somewhat-different needs (and desires) for their workplace culture, even though there is some overlap in these areas among the different generations. To further complicate matters, there are often wide differences of needs even within generations since, ultimately, each individual is unique and will have their own areas they value most when considering workplace culture.

Still, there are some workplace cultural items that employees across all spectrums will have in common, such as the desire to work at an organization in which they view as consistently exercising great leadership across all levels and especially at the top.

While there are many different types of leadership and there are clearly good examples in Corporate America in which to examine, “great leadership” will nearly always result in high levels of trust and mutual respect permeated throughout the organization, and most job areas will include tangible things such as competitive pay and employee benefits, flexibility with work schedules (where possible), and some level of individual autonomy in how work gets done.

There are many, many other things that help highlight great leadership — and they are always employee and customer focused. And, within the organization, it also means having the proper tools available to do the job in an efficient and effective manner, which is where infrastructure technology comes into play.

In fact, the infrastructure technology used by a company and exactly how that technology facilitates and automates workflows, or the lack of having such technology, can have a significant impact on workplace culture and tends to negate many of the positive cultural attributes that are otherwise found within the organization.

For the purposes of this short blog article, consider the impact of just this single example: timekeeping technology, or the lack of technology when the company uses paper timesheets. Do you know anyone (or perhaps you have had a personal experience) who works in a small- or mid-sized company and still uses paper timesheets to collect and record time to pay employees their wages?

While understanding the differences between paper timesheets and electronic timesheets is quite useful and relevant information, another dimension of that discussion is how using paper timesheets can negatively impact the way employees view the culture of the workplace. They are frustratingly inefficient, prone to error, and easily lost — which causes undue stress on employees — and they are hard to share.

It is quite easy to draw the connection from an error on one or more timesheets to errors on paychecks, unhappy employees, and a less-than-optimal culture resulting from the lack of technology, or using antiquated technology, for the process used to collect and record hours worked to pay employees their wages on time and accurately.

When we consider the hyper-competitive job market today for many occupations in nearly all industries, and the strategies employers are deploying for the purpose of enhancing their ability to attract and retain the necessary workforce, they must also pay keen attention to the technology they employ for routine tasks such as timekeeping. If not, they will continue to experience the unintended negative impact of a less-than-ideal workplace culture and will not experience the outcomes they seek with the “extra” strategic initiatives they deploy.