Culture is new workplace currency: HR executive

'Huge differentiator' in attracting, retaining world-class talent: Carolyn Byer of Microsoft

Culture is new workplace currency: HR executive
As widespread digital transformation shifts the world of work, culture is emerging as a critical differentiator, according to Carolyn Byer, head of HR at Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont. Courtesy of Microsoft Canada

As widespread digital transformation shifts the world of work, culture is emerging as a critical differentiator, according to Carolyn Byer, head of HR at Microsoft Canada and keynote speaker at HR Tech Summit Toronto.

“Culture is really the new currency,” she said. “And it's key to attracting, retaining and recruiting world-class talent. Culture is really becoming a huge differentiator as people look to work in places where their values align to the organization. Employees’ expectations of their employers has gone up significantly.”

“Technology connects employees and helps build cultural transformation,” said Byer. “Technology can help create a top-notch experience for employees, allowing them to easily consume new knowledge, participate in database decision-making, and improve productivity.”

Technology has truly enabled a new culture of work, shifting towards open and collaborative environments where employees can work anytime and anywhere, she said.

“It inspires creative thinking and agility, instead of routine process. It rewards dynamic teamwork and data-driven problem solving over command and control.”

Employers that commit to digital transformation have experience a payoff in the form of engaged employees, easy access to data insights, and a quicker pace for innovation, said Byer.

“Organizations that are not there yet, and are not using these modern solutions simply cannot compete,” she said. “They're going to struggle to retain the best talent and to meet the evolving expectation of employees.”

Products such as Microsoft Teams are tools that aid collaboration via chat and meeting options, video conferencing and integration of Office 365, said Byer.

Similarly, Delve Analytics gives employees access to a personal dashboard with insights into work patterns such as time spent in meetings or on email, she said.

“When you're thinking of wellness and work-life integration, it gives that employee their own viewpoint of ‘Are they really carving out that time for them to be with their families or enjoy the things that bring them energy?’”

A transforming workplace is changing employee expectations, forcing employers to embrace the diversity of globally distributed teams and multi-generational workforces, said Byer.

“From an HR perspective, we need to work to build a culture across this diverse workplace and start focusing on your collaboration tools. The modern workplace is here, and those who do not adapt will be left behind.”

HR needs to ensure that all staff understand why the shift to new technology is the appropriate way forward by outlining the benefits employees and the organization will experience as a result, she said.

It is imperative for organizations to sustain an appealing culture that reflects company values. Clear communication and encouragement of feedback are equally important to implement this appropriately, as is a commitment to continuous learning and training, said Byer.

Since change begins with people, employers must engage their employees, getting them on board as early in the process as possible, she said.

“Technology is here to stay. We're in a digital transformation. And as employees adapt to the new possibilities that technology brings, morale and productivity will be improved.”

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