Don’t Invest In Technology Without Investing In Employees

Mohammed Anwar is CEO of Merit Services, a recruitment company in Toronto. He drove taxis and delivered pizza before founding his company.

getty

The need to keep up with technology is clear. It’s simply essential to succeeding in today’s business world, and no company can afford to deny it.

Up-to-date technology boosts productivity, increases efficiency and strengthens company infrastructure, making work quicker and smoother. It lowers security risks and helps prevent accidental losses, eliminating glitches or obstacles can slow down or bring work to an unpleasant halt. It allows companies to spread their wings, enabling remote work and expansion around the world. It’s often a costly but necessary and beneficial investment.

But all the technology in the world will be useless without a team of trustworthy employees who not only can, but want to, make it work. It’s the employees at their desks, on the shop floor or in the field with company technology on a regular basis, and it’s their hands-on use that can bring out its best, or lay its value to waste.

Businesses need to pay attention or pay dearly. To succeed, businesses can make these seemingly simple but crucial strategic moves.

Trust in employees, and ask them about their technology needs. They will know what they need, and don’t need, and what works and what doesn’t. Try investing in the ideas employees may have for innovative solutions first before looking outside the company. For every $2 being invested in technology, try putting $1 toward employees’ ideas.

Encourage employees to learn and follow the latest and best in the technology options available. Technology advances and changes so quickly, and the more eyes watching, the better.

Motivate employees to be curious about the competition and the industry. In a well-known and harrowing example, ignoring new technology, the competition and the market led to the downfall of photography pioneer Kodak.

The giant company once ruled the photography world, and it even invented the first digital camera. But it dragged its feet on developing the new technology and instead dug in its heels to protect its film business. It failed to keep up with other companies that went racing past to roll out their digital photography products.

By the time Kodak introduced its first digital camera, it was far behind the competition. Critics say its management had been complacent and overly confident about sustaining its success. In 2012, the 133-year-old company filed for bankruptcy protection.

Along the same lines, let employees give feedback, formally or informally, and let them tell management what might be going wrong. Be open to dissent and disagreements. Don’t discourage open communication.

Reward creativity and innovation by employees. Their insights and ideas could not only save money but build unexpected successes. Share profits whenever possible. The days of company management living in luxury while employees struggle paycheck to paycheck are over.

Train employees not only how to use technology as a tool but how to do without it, like pilots who must know how to land a plane manually if navigation systems fail. Emergencies do happen. The team must know what to do when things go wrong.

Be honest and open with employees. Let them know when the company is up and when it is down. Bring them on board to share in enjoying the good days and weathering the bad days.

Make morale a top priority. Neither armies nor athletes win when morale is low.To keep morale high, consider these steps:

• Engage workers by showing appreciation. Demonstrate that they are needed and valued, recognize their achievements and reward their efforts and contributions.

• Get together regularly. Even in today’s era of remote and asynchronous work, companies are finding ways to connect employees digitally and build personal relationships.

• Ask for feedback, and listen to what employees say. Take criticism in a positive light that can guide the way to improvement.

• Promote from within, rather than looking outside the company, to give employees the motivation to stay on and move up.

The global pandemic has emphasized just how much we need one another, and that powerful lesson holds true in business as well as in families and in communities. These days, employees feel empowered enough to leave their jobs for better opportunities more than ever before. Keeping, nurturing and valuing workers is critical to avoid losing the benefits of their skills and talents.

Employees are the main asset of any business. Invest in technology, but invest in employees even more.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?