Technology and Culture, the Precursor for Employee Efficiency and Productivity

By Joshua Mwesiga

The International Labor Day epitomizes the role and importance of every employee in the workplace.

Today, the world of work has evolved and continues to do so, particularly in the face of technology. There is a healthy mix of white and blue-collar jobs. White collar jobs, akin to blue collar, require that people work harder, and oftentimes, for longer hours than ever before, to adapt to stretch work demands and/or economic realities. It is not exceptional anymore that one will find themselves working beyond the official 8am – 5pm specifically with the advent of ever–present communications technology.

For staff to be productive and thrive in this environment requires employers to not only promote a positive employee-centered work culture but more importantly, make a deliberate effort to ease work processes, through digitalization. More than ever, the digital age has presented employers with a task, and opportunity, to automate various processes that support this advent – automating both the mundane processes like staff leave applications, attendance management, performance appraisals, and work meetings, to automating more integral processes including training & learning, strategy monitoring, business intelligence, analytics, and institutional reporting, among others.

Today, we have in place telecommuting arrangements that allow staff to work from home, on the road, or from other satellite locations; these arrangements have altered colleague relations as well as how we execute our duties. For this approach to be successful, employers must invest in appropriate technology, tools of work, and key enablers like the provision of internet data to their staff. The employees too must reinvent their psyche towards work! The work-from-home phenomenon requires a high level of self-management and personal ethics, many a time influenced and catalyzed by the institution’s work environment and culture. The employer must rely on the employee to deliver on their work goals ‘unwatched’! 

This year, Uganda joins the rest of the world in celebrating Labor Day under the theme; “Promoting positive work culture and Ethics: A prerequisite for increased investment, employment opportunities and household incomes.”

The theme of the day speaks to what lies at the core of organizational success. When companies prioritize a positive work culture and ethical behavior, they are more likely to attract and retain like-minded top talent, the anchor sustained productivity and innovation. This, in turn, drives continued business growth and maintains jobs whilst also creating new opportunities; ultimately contributing to improved household incomes and the standards of living. The quality of staff in an organization, therefore, is a testament to the organizational culture, as is grounded in the organization’s ideals, ethos, norms, rituals, and practices.

Having participated in hundreds of talent identification and selection processes and having devoted the last couple of years of my professional life to managing organizational talent, it is my conviction that culturally fit employees – those that typify the values, traits, and motivation desirable to and aligned with the institution’s culture – usually end up delivering the most value to the institution.

Jim Collins, in his book Good To Great approaches culture with a question:  Who is on the bus? People are the greatest asset for any business. However, it is not about any people. The organization must have the RIGHT people on the bus. It is better to relieve someone of their duties If they do not meet company standards, he emphasizes. 

Look, I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”

At Uganda Development Bank, we are very deliberate about nurturing a conducive and productive workplace for the ‘right’ staff to thrive. Across all our talent management processes, be it recruitment, and through to promotions, the key consideration is merit. Our diverse value proposition focuses on among others, creating opportunities for staff growth and development, facilitating a congenial-camaraderie colleague culture as well as focused rewards and recognition, and employee wellness programs; we believe these are all catalysts that boost employee morale within the organization. The benefits from these and other interventions are reflected in the performance of the Bank.

We have made every effort to automate our processes so as to ease the way we serve our customers, both internal and external. Today, our staff can work from any part of the globe without a hassle! They are enabled to access Bank systems and applications from wherever they are, at their convenience.

It is on account of these, coupled with many other robust staff interventions, that UDB remains an employer of choice for many Ugandan professionals. 

As we celebrate International Labor Day, my call to other organizations is for them to periodically review their people processes to ensure that what they are implementing is not obsolete but is indeed relevant for the times. Additionally, a focus on creating and nurturing a positive work culture will make the difference on their journey to institutional success.

The Writer is the Director Strategy and Corporate Affairs at Uganda Development Bank

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