Big data and AI technologies that track employee engagement, hours, performance and safety. New tools that allow massive remote work due to COVID-19. Those are a couple of the hottest tech trends in the workplace, said Henry Albrecht, CEO of employee experience software company Limeade. But where’s the extra component that will actually improve the lives of employees?
“None of this delivers by itself any sort of meaningful human connection,” he said Friday during HRE’s HR Technology Conference & Exposition, held virtually. “Where’s the cultural transformation to go along with the digital transformation? In 2021, we need to understand and study these trends, but we also need to transcend them and create buy-ins instead of burnout.”
Employers have an opportunity to come out of the pandemic stronger than before, Albrecht said. But to do that, they need to focus on care, culture and employee engagement. And when it comes to technology, people should be at the center. “Putting people first can lead to a different type of culture and a different type of business outcome,” he said. “The best technology is largely hidden—you don’t know how or why it works, you just love it.”
Limeade Institute research finds that a positive employee experience is driven first by culture, second by trust and third by care. Noting that the company’s research found that millennial and Gen Z workers would take a pay cut to work at a company with a better culture, Albrecht called on employers to “take the lead on trust and put the human back in human resources.”
Support, recognition, access to resources and a sense of purpose are vital, he said. With employees struggling due to the pandemic, giving them tech tools—and “giving them the right resource at the right time”—is a way to show care. The pandemic also has put a sharp focus on emotional and mental wellbeing, he said.
“Yeah, it has ML and AI and big data behind it, but it has to have a purpose,” Albrecht said.
Care makes good business sense: Employees who feel that their company cares about them are twice as likely to be engaged at work, four times less likely to suffer from stress and burnout, seven times more likely to feel included at work, nine times more likely to stay at their company for three or more years and 10 times more likely to recommend their company to other people as a great place to work.
Albrecht urged HR leaders to embrace technology that matches their intent—to choose the right tech tools that show their level of care. He also reminded them to continue to listen to what employees need.
“No amount of technology can give you the true, ultimate culture,” he said. “You have to listen to the voice of real human beings.”