Enterprising Developments

Technology May Make Customers Happy, But Not Employees

Joe McKendrick
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.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Comments (1)

new technology can be a good thing, but it appears it is being used not only to count the beans but it breeds an atmosphere of seperation between the boots on the ground folks and those that manage. example: emails are more hostile than face to face conversations.

Posted by: Jeff H | July 4, 2012 12:12 PM

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