Workplace technologies must be as intuitive as those at home

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Organisations risk losing top digital talent if they don't utilise the latest technologies, says EDF Energy's Mike Hogben

HR professionals must push for workplace technologies to be as intuitive as those used by employees at home, according to EDF Energy Campus learning and technology manager Mike Hogben.

It is HR’s responsibility, he told HR magazine, to encourage organisations to be less wary of the associated confidentiality risks, and to realise that the stakes can be losing talented staff.

“If I’m at home and can’t do something on Excel then I’ll solve the problem for myself. Often in the corporate forum we can’t do that,” he said, adding: “We have to move on so they [employees] get what they expect, otherwise they’ll go to companies where they get that connectivity. When the older generation go into the digital world we have our scuba masks on, whereas young people now have gills. When we make them enter an old-fashioned working environment they’re like fish out of water.”

Regarding the risks of rolling out the latest technologies, Hogben said: “People are afraid of video but you point out that we trust employees to have phone and face-to-face financial conversations, for example. So it’s about shifting to say these are the rules and if people break them there’ll be consequences. You have to give staff what they need, not start from the other way round. Otherwise they will just circumvent the rules.”

He added: “We are trying to demonstrate what can be done in the corporate setting, which is technology done in a domestic way. Everyone can Skype someone now; it’s not hard. But you can’t do that in the office. Suddenly you 'need' expensive conferencing kit, but everyone knows you don’t need that.”

Hogben explained that driving digital innovation within business is crucial to the success of learning and development activity. He pointed out that unnecessarily strict rules around the content of resources and branding also have a stifling effect on technology use, reporting that EDF’s new blended learning approach strongly encourages course leaders and students alike to collate content from a range of sources.

“Normally as a corporation we’ve been worried about ‘well that’s not EDF branded',” said Hogben. “But it’s about the learning experience. If people are engaged and learning does it matter that the guy in the video isn’t wearing an EDF tie? People have been discouraged from creating that kind of content because it’s too expensive, but actually you don’t have to do things that way.”

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