How Technology Is Changing the Way We Treat Employee Directories
Businesses’ adoption of technology has always been an approach of “get on the bandwagon or risk being left behind.” This is especially true with small and midsize businesses (SMBs)—organizations find that adopting the latest tech trends can give them a productivity and profitability boost. In Gartner research reported by GetApp, SMBs account for 40 percent of IT spending from businesses of all sizes.
This SMB IT boom makes sense, especially from an operational standpoint. Technology has modernized the workplace in ways that were unthinkable even 5 years ago. And the efficiency gained has been immeasurable, even in something as seemingly simple as employee directories. Here’s a look at how technology has changed how companies treat their directories and how employees, from executives to front-line workers and everyone in between, are deriving new benefits from this basic office concept:
The Evolution of Employee Directories
For decades, employee directories were a printed booklet or simply a bunch of manually typed and Xeroxed sheets stapled together. You may even have this sort of directory in your desk drawer or pinned to your cubicle wall. This method is better than no directory at all, but any updates require more typing, more copying, and more distribution. Therefore, updates become infrequent (and to prove our point, how current is the printed directory at your desk?). Also, remote employees could easily lose the directory packet or not have it with them on job sites or while traveling.
Gradually, employee directories evolved into their next iteration: digital documents, spreadsheets, or even PowerPoints. Updates could be made more often, but the process is still manual. Moreover, any updates take time to reach the cloud, and a file might be copied and re-uploaded—duplication and version control become a serious problem because you might not know if the copy you find in the system, dated a few weeks ago, is indeed the most recent one.
The other issue with these basic digital directories is that they are created within applications designed for other purposes. A PowerPoint is meant for office presentations, not to store employee names and addresses. The same applies to Excel spreadsheets—intended for computing revenue numbers, not phone numbers. Users are limited in what they can do with a directory in these programs, and if the functionality is lacking, the directories often sit unused.
Modern Technology Delivers Modern Employee Directories
Today’s dynamic workplace needs an employee directory that is equally as dynamic. A solution can be found in live org chart software. Besides mapping the hierarchy of the business, the best live org chart platforms provide users with a trove of data about the individuals within the chart, which effectively acts as a super charged employee directory. Some advantages of this strategy include:
- Accessibility and portability: Directories are easily found online and can be kept up to date by employees and connected into existing IT and HR systems. directories are available to remote workers and accessible on mobile devices—an employee in the field can use a smartphone or tablet to quickly look up the contact information of anyone, anywhere in seconds.
- A wealth of information: Previous directory methods are limited in the information you can include on them; they become unwieldy to use or take up too much paper (unless you want to shrink the type to six points and offer employees magnifying glasses). Today’s solutions offer so much more—you can add pictures, social media handles, skills, birthdays, fun facts, and more—without bogging down or clogging up the directory.
- A tool for all employees: Managers can use modern directories to get reminders for upcoming employee anniversaries or birthdays. Employees have a fun tool to learn more about who’s who and who does what in the organization. HR gets a directory it is excited about using and sharing, and, more importantly, can use to pull reports on employee data they might not find in other company systems (e.g., t-shirt size).
A Directory, and So Much More
Technology is changing SMBs for the better in all aspects of their operations. Incorporating innovation into your employee directories may seem like a small measure, but it has the potential to turn an essential resource into something more than just a phonebook.
As part of your org chart, an employee directory can assist with communication, team planning, employee development, operational improvements, and more. And when the directories are integrated with HR and IT systems, other departments can use the tool to assist in their processes (such as onboarding). In these ways, a company applies technology for employee directories, which, in turn, enhances everything else it does. And don’t dismiss the other benefit of this strategy—you’ll make room to pin something else on your cubicle wall!