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The new power couple? Why IT and HR are the key to creating a great workplace experience

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/gpointstudio)

Today’s employees want more than a paycheck, that’s one thing we are all aware of. But how much importance do we put on creating a great workplace experience?

With the world of work evolving more and more towards flexible working and contracting, it's harder than ever before to create a united company culture and a great workplace experience - defined as ‘the sum total of all experiences an employee goes through in an organisation’ -  that everyone feels a part of. This is where collaboration between the IT and HR departments comes into play.

1. Tech is crucial to staff retention

According to The Future Workforce Study from Dell EMC and Intel - forty-two per cent of millennials are likely to quit a job if the technology they have available to them is substandard. This says it all - IT has a crucial role to play in creating a workplace where staff stick around. The type of tech can range from recognition tech to wellbeing tech such as GP online, which can help reduce absenteeism, burnout and waiting times to see a doctor. 

For example, at Perkbox, we use our own recognition platform to recognise employees both peer to peer and top-down. Employees who demonstrate our workplace culture values such as ‘Redefine What’s Possible’ and ‘Zero Fear’ can get a shout out by their colleagues on the platform and receive a digital badge. The most voted ones at the end of the quarter get added to our Perkbox ‘Wall of Fame’, helping boost staff morale and encouraging the celebration of successes together.

However, it’s also important to remember that for these technologies to be able to play a positive role in staff retention, the importance of creating boundaries should not be overlooked. Employees should feel comfortable to switch workplace technology on and off and remove notifications when out of the office or on holidays. From an employer and manager’s perspective, this could mean leading by example and not contacting employees outside office hours (unless in an emergency) and making a conscious effort to switch off yourself while on annual leave.

2. IT enables perks and benefits

Flexible working, a valued perk by many of today’s employees, would simply not be possible without well-implemented communication tools like Slack and Zoom. For flexible working to be successful in your workplace and a valued perk by your employees - cross collaboration between HR and IT is key.

Firstly, it needs to be decided what communication channels are used for different messages - to prevent communication overload across the organisation and important messages being missed entirely. For example, decide if Slack or email is best for communicating company-wide messages and stick to it. Otherwise, messages will be replicated and employees will get overwhelmed with the number of messages they are receiving.

Secondly, HR also has a role to play in ensuring managers develop trust for their employees who are working flexibly, avoiding the tendency to micromanage them when losing the sense of control and accountability of sitting near each other in the office.

Get these two things right and you are guaranteed high chances of getting both happier and more productive employees. From your perspective as an employer, it will also have benefits - if your employees feel well-rested and that they have a good balance between their work and home lives - staff retention will increase and the costs associated with absenteeism and sick leave will decrease.

3. Collaboration to reduce workload

Teamwork between IT and HR can also streamline processes and reduce the administrative workload across the business. From an HR perspective, for example, onboarding new employees can often be a time consuming task - as can be things like absence and holiday allowance tracking. Introducing platforms that can automate these processes is a plus.  The same is the case in finance with tools that help streamline expenses and with general management when it comes to defining and  tracking OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) that can help with accountability and performance.

To boost collaboration between HR and IT departments in your organisation, why not consider establishing a working group. Composed of employees from both your HR and IT teams, they can meet regularly to discuss how they can work together to streamline processes in the company. At Perkbox, we even have a ‘champion’ in each department in charge of implementing a new system or tool. This individual acts as the go-to person for any questions or issues and also encourages all employees in their department to start using the tool.

4. An innovation booster

Traditionally, employees who work in IT and HR have had very different skill sets.  HR employees tending to have strong soft skills like communication, leadership and an ability to multi-task, in comparison to IT professionals who are more technically and strategically minded.

By collaborating together on projects, both departments benefit from multiple perspectives, leading to better decision-making and increased innovation in the business. Employees can also expand their own skillset and learn from the experiences of their counterparts in different teams.

For example, at Accenture, their HR and IT departments came up with an innovative way to communicate the company’s Code of Business Ethics to employees. They launched COBE - a chatbot that answers any questions employees have on compliance - removing the need for them to go through long documents in search of the answer and resulting in 17,500 chatbot visits in the first four weeks of launch.

And an added bonus, this will also improve personal relationships between employees - breaking down silos that naturally form between departments in large organisations.

Closing comments

Traditionally, the onus to create a positive workplace experience has most fallen on the HR department of a company. However, with the introduction of tech into our working lives, this is simply no longer the case. For a truly great workplace experience in this day and age - one that enables flexible working, collaboration and ease of communication among other things - cross-collaboration between IT and HR is key to success.

Chris Manning, Director of Product Management, Perkbox