Opinion: Employees love you…until they leave you because you didn’t empower them

by Contributor17 Mar 2017
When it comes to staff retention, many companies are now data rich, but insight poor, writes Monika Fahlbusch, global chief employee experience officer at BMC Software

Millennials are the catalyst behind some of the biggest changes in the workplace, including Australia's push for digital transformation. While job hopping is considered the norm for today’s workforce, stability and experience is crucial to making real, significant changes to deliver success in the digital age.

Yet according to Deloitte, two-thirds of millennials plan to leave their current jobs by 2020.[1]

It’s no surprise the war for recruiting and retaining the best talent is heating up, placing increasing pressure on employers to engage employees in new ways that increase efficiency, motivate them, and ultimately ensure they stay around. 

But are businesses actually listening to what their people want?

According to research from BMC Software, the reality is no, not really. 

Australian employees want to work in innovative offices, but more than half surveyed believe they aren’t. In fact, only 46% described their current workplace as ‘innovative.’

Employees actively want to be ‘digital change agents’ – almost half (43%) want to learn new ICT skills to prepare themselves for the future of work. But employers aren’t always freely encouraging them to do so, with only one quarter of employees feeling empowered to drive the change they expect to see with their current skills and capabilities.  

And in this new world of work, 85% of employees expect their employer to drive change and encourage innovation in the workplace.

So, to reverse this trend of job hopping and give employees the experiences they demand to drive transformation – and business success – what can Australian businesses do? 
 
Nurture a culture of empowerment

Ultimately, the employee experience directly impacts a company's ability to remain competitive. 
 
Businesses need to focus on two areas to deliver experiences that are superior to those of competitors: 

•    Using insights to drive meaningful worker/employee conversations that engage and retain top talent; and
•    Building a digital workplace to enhance collaboration and productivity, as well as support different working styles.
 
Use data to enhance experiences
 
Many companies are now data rich, but insight poor. Developing a holistic view of information from across multiple employee-facing departments including HR, IT, facilities, and communications will empower enterprises to identify internal trends and shifts that impact current and future organisational needs. 

The insights achieved can also be used to driver deeper engagements with employees. For example, being able to identify the particular strengths of the company’s most successful employees and teams, and applying these characteristics and processes across other areas of the workforce. That’s responsive and responsible leadership.
    
Provide tools supporting different working styles
 
While employees previously had to adapt to company-standardised technology tools, the digital workplace flips this on its head by creating a culture that puts the employee experience at the centre, supporting varied styles of working.

A digital platform must be usable, modern, easy, and intuitive. Fast, secure access to the information, connections, and resources employees need to excel in their roles is critical, and includes functionalities from intelligent search and personalised action items, to social collaboration and self-service tools.
   
These capabilities provide employees greater flexibility and the organisation greater access to a diverse talent pool, as they can go where the employees are vs. asking staff to come to them.
   
If successful, the digital workplace reshapes the employee experience. Routine tasks can be automated and completed faster with tools that provide contextual information to help employees make better decisions. 

Teams can collaborate with ease and share best practices to feel more engaged and part of the bigger picture. This leaves employees feeling more satisfied.
 
In Australia, innovation is intrinsic to the country’s mission statement, and part and parcel of economic growth and prosperity. But if Australia wants to be a country known for innovation, its businesses have to lead by example. Now is the time for organisations to assess how they’re looking at digital workplaces, how they’re empowering employees, and why this matters today, and in the future. 
 

1 Deloitte, The Deloitte Millennial Survey, 2016 https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/gx-millennials-one-foot-out-the-door.html#report

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