Businesses around the world are losing staff—but the challenge in retaining talent goes beyond poor management or the pandemic. It's about technology.
A recent European study found that small businesses were 42% more likely to lose staff because of frustrations with technology and remote work. That might leave larger organizations breathing a sigh of relief, but in a talent shortage, employee satisfaction around the use of technology can be critical to business success, particularly for smaller organizations.
In early 2020, ManpowerGroup released research that found that global talent shortages have almost doubled over the last ten years. The COVID-19 pandemic's economic impacts notwithstanding, this suggests that it’s not just a matter of retention, it’s also an issue of attracting talented employees that will support business outcomes over the long term. The main consideration is that businesses that want to stay competitive and attract top talent, they have to take tech seriously.
These challenges get to the heart of an organization's talent retention strategy: In the era of the consumerized workplace, technology will be instrumental in supporting employee efficiency, communications and business results.
Technology and talent retention
Technology is an essential pillar of the work environment, so it should be no surprise that challenges with technology can and often do translate into real problems with employee engagement and satisfaction.
Consider the recent increase in complaints about “Zoom fatigue” as organizations shifted pre-pandemic communication practices into a more remote, video meeting-centric world. While it's unfair to completely blame a vendor or corporate application, particularly as management sets standards for how communication tools are implemented, the reality is that technology is ever-present, which means that a bad technology experience can quickly translate into decreased employee satisfaction and lower morale.
To be clear, it's not just Zoom. Cloud technologies extend the reach of the workplace into the home and bring computing power closer to the employee. Immersive team apps foster anytime, anywhere communication and collaboration. The Internet of Things (IoT) enables business devices to talk directly to one another. Virtual assistants help employees improve productivity, while artificial intelligence (AI) pushes worker capabilities to new levels.
Ideally, technology-oriented, digitally driven workplaces should offer premium, personalized experiences for employees through smart applications and innovative technologies that align with organizational values and business goals. But as the workplace continues to evolve and new solutions get implemented, business leaders must keep an eye on technologies that might become surprising sources of frustration. Much like how Zoom emerged as both a solution and a challenge, technologies like automation can empower some employees yet cause others to worry about job insecurity. Cyber security solutions can protect information but, particularly in fields with strict legal requirements like finance and healthcare, they can also affect productivity and efficiency. Consider how applications like Slack, which are often praised for enhancing employee communication, have also been criticized as annoying when used in certain ways.
Assessing strategies for retaining talent with technology
As business leaders look into the future to prioritize new technologies that will foster employee engagement and satisfaction, it's important to ask a few questions.
Where do we stand today?
Your path forward in adjusting technology to fit talent management goals will be determined by variables ranging from your organizational profile to the current challenges you face around talent retention.
For example, ask yourself whether your organization is more of a tech revolutionary or laggard. The answer will illuminate whether you need to investigate and try new solutions or if you simply need to tweak what you already have.
What should implementation look like?
Whatever decisions you make, how you adjust your approach to workplace technology will be critical. Consider the following:
- Verify that choices align with organizational strategies and foster a positive employee experience.
- Recognize that some employees will be skeptical and may require extra effort to convince and get on board.
- Ensure that the lines of communication between leadership and affected employees are open both directions.
- Designate a champion to ease transitions.