A Winning Team: The Link Between Culture and Tech in HR Strategy

July 27, 2016 Zuman

Jamie Notter and Jeremy Ames are two men with extensive experience in the realm of consulting and HR. Notter runs the Washington, D.C.-based WorkXO, while Ames heads up Massachusetts' Hive Tech HR. Together, the two talked all things tech during a presentation at the Society for Human Resource Management's annual conference in June 2016. Among other important insights, the duo offered up one profound observatio

n: When it comes to almost every aspect of running an organization, culture and technology always go hand-in-hand. That is, these are not just wo distinct components of a company, but rather are linked together at the most intrinsic level. Recognizing and exploring this relationship is essential for effective HR management.

Being upfront

For some people, it can be difficult to understand just how fully linked culture and technology can be. During the presentation, Notter offered up an example involving the first stage of employee engagement: the recruiting process. Companies have to be as upfront about their overall culture as possible. Otherwise, Notter explained, these individuals can head online, where review sites like Glassdoor or Kununu allow people to uncover the truth of a company's culture for themselves. For Notter, it's about setting the proper framework of expectations - people want to hear one thing and then experience it in the workplace. Before beginning even their first day in the office, technology can be an employee's window in the culture, and it's important to get started on the right foot.

A layered approach

Both Notter and Ames recognized the importance of making hiring decisions that fit with the company culture. It's essential for companies to outline the tenants of their individual company culture and to always recruit employees that align with and perpetuate those core pillars. Notter mentioned the example of the Michigan company Menlo Innovations. The organization brings in 30 people, which it whittles down to a smaller group who come on for $10. From that group, a smaller group then earns a three-month contract. If you make it past that stage in the recruitment process, you're hired on full-time. It's hiring done to ensure that only the most fitting employees earn the job, and it's also a process where technology is essential to a fast and efficient hiring experience.

Finding the right fit

For Notter and Ames, a truly defined sense of culture can often involve how a company will embrace technology. But it has to be a specific kind of relationship, they added, one that puts the focus on the user or the employee. If the technology system lags, or requires multiple forms of input, then that can be a major turnoff for people who will sometimes associate company culture with these ineffective system. That's why Ames explained that companies need to address key questions when thinking about their talent acquisition system. Namely, is the system is navigated, or do users tend to get lost or repeat steps? Can managers use the system as a team to engage the candidates? Finally, is the system "branded" with the company stamp, which is important for building positive associations.

Maintaining the human element

During the October 2015 Annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition, executives from the New Belgium Brewing Company posed a simple question: Even with advancements in technology, how do companies maintain the "human" in human resources? Or, in their words, "scaling up with soul." For New Belgium, and inevitable dozens of other countries nationwide, it's about keeping the human element at the forefront of all decisions. The individual is the essential link between culture as a construct and technology. Without people, culture is a set of rules and technology is an array of systems. Only when they're linked can there be the momentum needed to carry businesses into the future.


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