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3 tech considerations for creating a strong remote employee culture

Kristina Johnson
Kristina Johnson is Okta’s Chief People Officer, leading the organization’s global People function. She is responsible for the company’s human capital management strategy and oversees talent acquisition, talent development, total rewards and engagement programs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought along significant changes to the workforce and, as we’ve seen from the Great Resignation, HR teams have struggled to keep up. With companies rushing to adopt remote technologies while ensuring seamless virtual customer experiences, employees have often been left behind, eventually leading to increased burnout and resignations.

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According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the overall turnover rate for 2021 was 57.3%, with 25% being voluntary turnover. The United States also saw its largest increase in employees who quit their jobs—4.4 million—in September 2021, compared to any other month. Two years into the pandemic, amid this context, it’s time that companies and HR teams shift their focus to retaining talent and increasing employee happiness—and technology has a crucial role to play.

Okta, an identity management company, recently released its latest Businesses at Work report, highlighting the apps and tools being used to support employees and lower attrition rates. This year’s report contains data from 14,000 global customers and provides tips for HR teams and companies as we navigate this next phase of the pandemic.

Key takeaways include:

1. Use the apps your employees like the best.

More than anything else, it’s clear that companies must deploy a diverse and accessible set of tools to keep managers and teams connected, support workers and maintain company culture. In fact, according to a 2021 report from Adobe, 49% of U.S. workers said they would leave a company if they are frustrated by the technology they use at work. Especially as remote work becomes more abundant, companies need to find tools that employees enjoy using.

While there are a plethora of new tools and applications to use, the Businesses at Work report found that employees like to stick with what they know best. Overall, best of breed apps won when it comes to remote work, and demand continues to grow among enterprises. Many organizations still commit to the classics like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, but will also deploy additional apps such as Zoom, Slack and Box in order to add on advanced functionality. Of Okta’s Microsoft 365 customers, nearly 10% deploy six or more best of breed apps, 42% deploy Zoom, 32% deploy Slack and 26% deploy Box.

See also: How HR technology can help fix the Great Resignation

2. Collaboration and engagement tools are a necessity.

As remote work grows increasingly more prevalent, apps that allow employees to collaborate and engage with each other and the company have become far more important. In fact, this year’s Businesses at Work report found that collaboration apps were some of the most popular, with the category seeing a 28% year-over-year growth. Tools like Miro (301% YoY growth), Figma (236% YoY growth) and Monday.com (149% YoY growth) shot to the top of the list for the first time ever and followed Amazon Business for the second, third and fourth slots, respectively.

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Further, while HR tools have grown again across the board, employee engagement tools stood out in particular: Culture Amp, an employee experience platform, grew 75% in the past year, and Lattice, a people management and engagement platform, grew 109% YoY and was ranked sixth overall. The last time an HR-related tool appeared in Okta’s Fastest Growing Apps list was BambooHR in 2016.

3. Security apps protect your employees, too.

In addition to collaboration tools, security apps also saw increased popularity as companies need strong yet accessible tools to not only protect the business but also employees, particularly those who are remote.

Related: Click here to register for HR Tech Virtual

In the Business at Work report, Okta found that, excluding collaboration tools, four of the top 10 fastest-growing apps are in the security space and cover a variety of bases for Okta’s customers: Fortinet FortiGate (#5) provides next-gen firewalls; VMWare Carbon Black (#8) offers cloud-native endpoint and workload protection; Sentry (#9) provides application monitoring; and 1Password (#10) helps consumers manage passwords.

As companies look to boost their ability to operate effectively and maintain employee satisfaction and belonging, these tools must be considered. A recent Gallup poll even showed that companies that focus on culture and engagement achieve up to 29% higher profit, 19% higher sales and a 72% lower attrition rate. Best of breed, collaboration and security apps all play a critical part in helping companies thrive, particularly as they engage employees in every aspect of their work, especially if they’re working remotely, and are crucial to ensuring that all employees’ experiences are enhanced.

Regardless of sector or industry, employees are the most important assets and they should have equitable value, contribution, access to information, leadership, mentoring, coaching and advancement opportunities. The world’s post-pandemic future is taking shape and, with the workforce going through some massive changes, HR departments and companies must continue to find solutions for employees in order to work efficiently and stay connected.