Today’s employees have grown impatient with slow and outdated technology in their workplaces. They’ve reached a tipping point, where they expect to have the same level of technology at work that they use in their lives outside the office, like fast internet and top-of-the-line desktop and mobile devices that can help them multitask, work remotely and track productivity.
If you want to attract and retain top employees (and who doesn’t?), up-to-date technology is quickly becoming a must, not a nice-to-have, in the workplace. And it’s not just millennials who feel this way about technology.
A global study by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) of individuals working in a variety of different industries captured what they expect from their employers as we move into the future:
Employees are generally happy in their jobs, but as communications and productivity technology advances, they are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with workplace capabilities. Though they still rely on analog equipment like landlines and desktops, they’re ready for a workplace that can accommodate their changing lifestyles.
In addition, 44 percent of those surveyed didn’t feel their workspace was “smart enough.” And their biggest time-wasters at work were related to technology, including slow or glitchy software and devices. One in three individuals said the technology they had in their homes was more advanced than what they have at work. This number will likely increase in the coming years.
It’s often thought that employees, particularly millennials, seek out things like ping pong tables and free food, or low tech perks, in a workplace. However, the study found that just 29 percent of respondents prefer low tech perks compared to 58 percent who would choose high tech perks, like virtual or augmented reality and the Internet of Things.
To provide a more satisfying, rewarding environment, organizations must begin to mirror the way their employees use technology in their daily lives. In doing so, business owners and leaders can determine what makes the most sense for their organization and satisfy employee needs at the same time.
Here are some ideas for addressing this sizable concern:
1. Ask your employees. What do they want from the technology they interact with at work, and what do they believe would help them be more productive? Identifying even minor process or system changes can make a big difference in your team’s day-to-day experiences. At Hartman, we’ve had great success helping our clients identify and understand these needs and make adjustments that align with their business strategy. Formal surveys are great, but focus groups and one-on-one meetings with key players work well, too. Since technology is always evolving, make it part of regular conversations in order to spot pain points before they impact employee retention.
2. Recognize and embrace the power of mobile. Studies indicate that more than half of emails are read on mobile devices. Give your employees the tools to do their jobs in the way that works best for them – answering emails on the train or calling in for a conference call – and the changes will be obvious. Mobile devices also allow for quicker turnaround and decision making, more collaboration and better, faster communication. Many software programs designed for desktops now have mobile apps, including email and CRM systems. Encouraging use of these apps demonstrates to your employees that you understand their need to be connected whenever it suits them best.
3. Focus on the user experience. Your employees likely use the same software applications every day. Are they functional and user friendly? Or are they confusing and awkward? If the latter is true, productivity is likely suffering as employees develop their own workarounds to make up for inadequate tools. Implementation of new software is also key. You can have the greatest product in the world, but if employees aren’t properly trained or taught to understand the merits, an expensive roll-out can quickly lose steam… and money.
The bottom line is that business and technology are intertwined like never before, and it’s not enough to just think about customers or clients in this regard; employee needs are equally critical. Addressing these needs shows that you are dedicated to their success, comfort and professional development. Technology can hold an organization back, but it can also propel it forward and help you meet your goals.
Ready to learn more about how technology can help your business and improve employee retention? Contact Hartman today to discuss your unique situation.