Modern workplace tools and technology key to winning the war for top talent

Recently a client told me they were losing good workers. Similar to other contact centres, staff attrition in their contact centre had been steadily climbing over the past five years. However for this customer the malaise was perplexing considering they paid well – slightly above industry rates – and their workplace culture was healthy. Searching for answers, they started digging deeper into their exit interviews. Here’s what they found: ageing technology was frustrating call centre agents and undermining their ability to serve their customers well. Workers simply weren’t prepared to stomach the hurt.

The situation was turning off prospective employees, too. Their eagle eyes were quick to spot the clunky technology at work in the call centre, setting an impression that was more MOTAT than mission control.

Things are only going to get tougher for employers. Record low unemployment and the new government’s intention to curb immigration will put a bigger squeeze on the supply of skills. And then there’s the challenge posed by the newest generation – Gen Z – entering the workforce.

This generation has never known a time without smartphones, social media, and instant response – so they’re unlikely to apply for a job that requires them to step back in time and wrestle technology more familiar to their parents. When your formative years have been shaped by an iPad; instant messaging, mobile apps, and corporate social networks are the standard expectation of these digital natives.

But there’s still plenty employers can do to help themselves attract and retain talent, starting with the well-researched fundamentals of valuing employees, providing opportunities for career progression, a dynamic and flexible workplace, and demonstrating strong leadership. Though, these factors alone will only get you so far – and possibly slightly short of the standard expected by Gen Z-ers.

According to research company Gallup, providing the right tools and equipment to do the job is one of the opportunities to create a more highly regarded workplace. More than simply a predictor employee productivity and, downstream, customer engagement, the research shows the harmful effect of substandard workplace technology on staff retention and turnover.

It costs a bomb, too. According to HRINZ, losing a member of staff who has been in the job for 12 months costs three times their salary. Never mind the hit on service delivery, loss of customer love, and damage to the company brand.

Importantly, things are looking up for technologically challenged employers. Because it’s getting easier to adopt new technology and introduce the flexibility demanded by modern workers. The magic ingredients are cloud, connectivity, and interoperability.

Cloud based apps for organisation-wide collaboration, customer service, analytics, and workforce management tools are more affordable than they used to be. Plus they can be accessed anywhere, any time without the need for complex VPNs and connectivity.

High-speed internet and mobile networks are available to the lion’s share of New Zealand businesses and homes, providing reliable connections for high-quality voice and video. New Zealand’s UFB now reaches more than 1.2million homes.

And interoperability standards have matured greatly. For example, Web RTC paves the way for communication services from any device with a web browser. It’s never been as easy to mix and match technology.

Attracting and retaining talent requires a multi-pronged approach addressing both traditional culture-based drivers and emerging needs for flexibility and modern tools. As more of our work is conducted in the digital realm, and as digital natives bolster the ranks of the workforce, smart digital tools are fast shaping as a potent weapon for winning the talent war.

Are you ready?

Author: Simon Nicholson

Head of Product and Marketing at Pyrios