Branson, Microsoft & Huffington: Optimizing HR Tech

by Rachel Ranosa12 Oct 2018

One in three businesses today have started investing in culture-focused HR technology, according to a 2018 Future of Work report. Another 38% are expected to follow suit in the next three years.

Culture technology enables HR and business leaders to observe how employees feel, engage, and react in their work environment, through surveys, polls, and conversation analysis.

“HR’s ability to measure, understand, and impact culture has evolved, almost in lockstep, with technology’s ability to support these efforts,” explained researchers from HR Open Source, conductors of the study.

Listening to employees, however, is only half of the story when it comes to building an authentic workplace culture. The heavy lifting requires real solutions to actual culture problems, from diversity and inclusion to overall wellbeing.

Ultimately, your values as an organization will shape which HR tech you choose, and these in turn should help facilitate cultural development. Successful business leaders, ranging from Richard Branson to Satya Nadella to Arianna Huffington, know this better than most:

Inclusivity through artificial intelligence
Microsoft has long incorporated accessibility tools into its software products, but the advent of AI takes this initiative to the next level.

“I believe AI is one of the more defining technologies of our time. One of the things I am most excited about is AI technology helping with inclusivity,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Simon London on the McKinsey Podcast.

“[In] the latest release of Windows, we have something called Eye Gaze, which allows anybody who is suffering from ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis] to be able to type just with their gaze,” he said.

“We have learning tools inside of Word and OneNote that allow anyone with dyslexia to improve their reading. It’s powerful stuff, and it’s a very practical way for executives to deploy some of these tools so that more people in their workforces can fully participate, which is important.”

Keeping healthy and active through apps
Employee health is a priority for Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. “I’m proud to say that some of the Virgin companies are doing wonderful work to make sure their staff and customers are well and feel taken care,” said Branson.

“One fantastic and inspiring example is Virgin Australia, who have launched ‘Better Me’, a mobile and web-based platform for health and wellbeing of staff,” he said.

‘Energy management’ through digital coaching
Media mogul Arianna Huffington wants people who are overworked to take control of their lives through “energy management”.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but Huffington launched new tech to limit the use of tech. Her app Thrive serves as a “digital coach” to help users introduce small behavioral changes into their routine to improve their lives.

It’s all part of a message she’s been sharing with HR leaders worldwide about “how to boost your performance by prioritizing your wellbeing”.

“We love technology and all the amazing things our devices allow us to do. But at the same time, tech has accelerated our lives beyond our capacity to keep up,” Huffington said.

The app is designed to let workers step away from their desk, take a breather, and find an authentic way to enjoy work-life balance.

“We can’t talk about our wellbeing without talking about our relationship with technology,” she said. “Like any relationship, our relationship with our technology needs constant care and attention.”

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