Here's how technology is changing the way Australian workplaces manage culture


Recently the head of the banking Royal Commission, Kenneth Hayne, released a report outlining the “prevalence and persistence of dishonesty and greed” within Australia’s financial institutions and called for the “consideration of the issues of culture, regulation and structure”.

The fact that workplace culture is in the news is a good thing. The reason it’s in the news is not. Fortunately, employees are no longer accepting of toxic work environments and look to organisations that have built seemingly enviable cultures.

The ongoing challenge within culture management is that there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for creating the ideal work environment. However, things are becoming simpler thanks to new technologies which enable organisations to create and manage culture with far greater accuracy and success than ever.

Here are some of the most exciting ways technology is changing the game of culture management.

1. Predicting how employees will think – in context

A positive work culture starts with effective hiring and building strong teams. The world of HR assessments is moving on from personality and numerical reasoning tests. While these might give a sense of aptitude or strengths, they do not provide context. Understanding someone’s personality does not say much about how they will behave in a work environment that is undergoing change and transformation.

Technology now allows us to predict how people think – in context. Gooroo uses a combination of neuroscience, big data and machine learning to predict future behaviour against the backdrop of an individual organisation’s needs and goals. Why is this exciting? Let’s say you are a large organisation undergoing digital transformation. Wouldn’t it be useful to know how your employees react in the face of uncertainty? Do they collaborate, problem solve, work independently, or become rattled under pressure? When you’re looking to hire or assemble a team for cultural fit, assessing future behaviour within your unique business context is one of the best ways to guarantee a positive outcome.

2. Stamping out bias and driving diversity

Diversity has a huge role to play in culture, values and reputation. As we have seen with financial organisations, “groupthink” is highly detrimental. Organisations need a balance of thinkers who each challenge the other’s position, particularly at the leadership level. True diversity is about diversity of thought, which is impacted by factors such as gender, race, disability, ethnicity or experience, but are also completely individual.

In addition to blind assessments, artificial intelligence (AI) is already helping us to eliminate the unconscious bias that can negatively impact hiring and performance assessments. AI can help us identify where that bias exists. While there’s still more to do, AI can be effective with enough data and direction. For example, AI can be taught to assume that there will be multiple types of profiles that will do well in a particular role, rather than looking for a single profile.

Technology that assesses behaviour and thought patterns can also support organisations to hire and build teams of diverse thinkers. By predicting how people will think in a certain scenario, we can assemble teams where individual strengths take the limelight, as opposed to the status quo.

3. Gamification for healthy competition

It goes without saying that a workplace where individuals perform to their potential, feel motivated and rewarded are more likely to boast stronger cultures. While driving performance and engagement can be difficult, there’s a reason why large technology companies have been using gamification for some time to assist in this area — and why it’s now taking hold across the board.

Gamification introduces tools such as virtual goals, progression metres, levelling and points. Companies can create leader boards and challenges for anything from sales to training to social media engagement. Gamification is an ongoing reminder of the rewards on offer, fires up the competitive spirit and forges a connecting with co-workers – a great way to drive employee motivation.

4. Performance management systems leave no room for excuses

Performance management is no longer an annual meeting between supervisor and employee, and performance management solutions have come a long way, too. The technology available today can capture the big picture for every individual – what they earn, their training, their goals, their behaviour and engagement with the business, their feedback – and update this in real time so each employee feels invested and in control of their development throughout the year. These systems are customisable to different business types, needs and sizes, so there’s no excuse for letting performance management slide or wait until next year. The technology used may have existed for some time, but if you’re not using these systems you are missing an opportunity.

Culture management will always be a moving target, but anyone working in this profession should feel excited by what the future holds. Technology isn’t just removing some of the guesswork, culture management is becoming a breeding ground for innovation.

Tom Brown is the Chairman of Gooroo.

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