Why HR Should Care About the Digital Workplace

  • 1-Mar-2015

My colleague Kashyap has analyzed recent survey results that show corporate communications teams paying more attention than HR leaders to digital workplace issues. I'd like to think this will change, and anecdotally, I see it changing in more forward-thinking enterprises.

Why? Because the quality of your digital workplace turns out to be a big-time HR issue.

Transitive property of employee user experience

More and more we hear that enterprises look for employees who can think on their feet and make good decisions. Yet many internal business information systems treat employees like children, or worse yet, like assembly-line robots.

This phenomenon leads to what I call the transitive property of employee digital user experience:

  1. "This business application thinks I'm an idiot"
  2. "It's an enterprise application" - Therefore...
  3. "The enterprise thinks I'm an idiot"

Some organizations have tried to escape this dilemma by experimenting with social technologies and encumbering those projects with "transformational" ambitions. Well, if you've seen RSG's Social-Collaboration Technology evaluation research, you know that:

  • Many of these platforms have serious usability problems themselves, and
  • Social technology is less about becoming exceptional and more about improving your business capabilities

The digital workplace is bigger than any one application or system. It's a mindset that employee effectiveness matters just as much when they are working in front of a screen.

Clearly there's a role here for HR

Those HR teams that have made strong moves to add employee engagement and effectiveness to their portfolio are particularly well placed to add significant value.

For a growing number of employees, the workplace has become largely digital. IT quite properly seeks to address enterprise concerns like security, cost-effectiveness, and architectural alignment. But institutionally, who advocates for the needs of the employee? Your best colleagues are increasingly judging the quality of their workplace by the usefulness of their business applications.

HR leaders who don't want employees to feel like idiots will pay closer attention to just how effective that digital workplace really is...

Your Next Step

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