Technology May Make Customers Happy, But Not Employees
Insurance Experts' Forum, July 3, 2012
There's been no shortage of observation and speculation about the impact of technology platforms and social media on insurers' relationships with their customers. Social media is seen as a new, highly interactive channel for reaching new and existing markets, while mobile opens up new possibilities for access by customers and agents.
How about inside the walls of the insurance company? Are employer-employee relationships shifting into virtual overdrive as well? Not really, according to a new study by Deloitte. While 41 percent of executives participating in the study believe social networking helps to build and maintain workplace culture, only 21 percent of employees have the same view. Business leaders and employees actually widely differ on whether social media has a positive effect on workplace culture (45 percent and 27 percent, respectively) or allows for increased management transparency (38 percent and 17 percent, respectively).
So are employees just cynical? Perhaps it's actually an example of the tried-and-true maxim: “automate a mess, get an automated mess.” Simply introducing technology into a workplace, thinking that the latest and greatest (and perhaps very expensive) systems will deliver a forward-looking, results-oriented corporate culture is a fallacy that has been around for years.
As Deloitte Chairman Punit Renjen puts it: “Our research suggests executives are possibly using social media as a crutch in building workplace culture and appearing accessible to employees. While business leaders should recognize how people communicate today, particularly millennials, they must keep in mind the limits of these technologies. The norms for cultivating culture have not changed, and require managers to build trust through face-to-face meetings, live phone calls and personal messages.”
What do employees want? They rank intangible elements such as regular and candid communications (50 percent), employee recognition (49 percent), and access to management/leadership (47 percent) as important to their worklives.
Good management involves providing employees a stake in their jobs, pride of ownership, as well as freeing them up to innovate. Technology may make things easier, but it won't deliver these qualities.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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