A report from Deloitte Access Economics has highlighted the crucial role that technology plays in winning the war for talent. Using devices and applications in conjunction with flexible IT policies and work practices, such as working remotely or from home, has a major impact on staff retention and satisfaction.
Finding and keeping skilled employees in your business is tough, but it's key to driving innovation and growth. Deloitte Access Economics' white paper highlights the demographic challenge. The ratio of people exiting education to people retiring is 125:100. It’s a ticking time bomb. The ABS found that 20% of businesses cited the inability to find skilled employees as the main barrier to innovation. The shortage of skilled resources in the Australian labour market is becoming a very real issue, pulling businesses into a "war for talent".
So what attracts new talent, and even better, retains skilled employees?
The basics such as remuneration, management style and workplace culture might be obvious. But a key factor that is often overlooked is “digital strategy.” That is the access to latest technologies, working remotely, ability to work away from desk and access to social media.
Why the shift?
With access to up-to-date technologies at home, employees tend to expect the same in their workplace. Deloitte pointed out that a good digital strategy is important because employees don’t want their workplace to be a step down from their home environment, where they often get faster Internet access and more user-friendly devices.
Whilst employee expectation is a factor, the main reason to build a comprehensive digital strategy is the contribution it makes to workplace collaboration, job satisfaction and most importantly, productivity. Employees cite communication systems and inadequate technology as the third and fourth barriers to collaboration, the first two being workplace culture and management structures. As for job satisfaction, Deloitte’s white paper highlights that employees with access to online collaboration tools, instant messaging, mobile apps, social media and remote access to emails were more satisfied with their jobs, with satisfaction rates between 72% to 80%. Those without access to these applications were only 47% satisfied with their jobs. Satisfied employees collaborated 16% more than their unsatisfied counterparts each week.
Whilst some argue that free access to these tools merely distracts employees and reduces productive time, the Deloitte white paper draws from research by Croker, highlighting that employees with free access to internet, social media, personal emails, reading news and browsing are 9% more productive than employees whose internet access is restricted.
The report recommends that if digital strategy is not already a major consideration in your business, it should be. At the very least, invest in the fundamental digital infrastructure such as fast internet connections, adequate devices (laptops or tablets) and reliable IT support. To truly capitalise on the human dividends from a great digital strategy, each business must customise their approach based on their business goals and employee expectations. Deloitte has developed a Digital Roadmap which outlines five steps to guide you through the different phases of implementing a digital strategy:
1. Communicate: Air NZ asked their employees outright about the devices they would like to use in the workplace. Share your business strategy and get input from your employees and experts in creating the corresponding digital strategy. You will be better informed of their needs and can create a strategy better suited to for the business on the whole.
2. Inspire: Fairfax moved to Google Apps to promote collaboration and reduce costs. Give your employees good reasons to adopt these new technologies, and highlight these efficiencies to them with a demonstration. Engagement can induce trial and uptake.
3. Implement: Fairfax employees were given a choice to opt-in to use the new Google Applications. Help your employees in the transition to new technology by allowing a balance of old and new. Monitor the impact of the change on productivity and satisfaction to ensure the new system is working towards the right goals.
4. Support: Woolworths provided a technology support centre to educate employees on the new system and assist employees in solving problems. Provide ongoing support and education. Empower fast learning employees to assist peers in using new technology: empowerment boosts employee morale.
5. Grow: Fairfax used an internal social network to understand their employees and improve their systems. Evaluate new technologies and measure employee satisfaction to evolve and innovate these systems.
Building a new digital strategy is complex. Therefore, before you embark on the five steps on the roadmap, review your current digital strategy and its’ contribution to employee satisfaction. Only then can you use this feedback to improve your strategy and ultimately have a fighting chance in the war for talent.
To get further insight read The Connected Workplace by Deloitte Access Economics. Or if you're already sold on the idea of a connected workplace but want some practical steps on how to get there, Logicalis has just released 5 Steps to Enabling Secure Mobility, a How to Guide for building a secure, connected workplace.