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Savage war for talent: How to protect employees

The best digital workplace experiences will come from merging the functions of HR and IT, writes KRISTINE DAHL STEIDEL, Vice President EUC EMEA, VMware



Employers are faced with an increasingly savage war for talent. Attracting the right employees remains a serious challenge – 70% of respondents to the Deloitte 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey cited recruitment as an important issue, with 16% labelling it one of the three most urgent issues their organisation would face in 2019. In this candidate’s market, companies are being forced to rethink what they offer both prospective and existing talent in order to attract and retain the skills they need to grow in the digital era. 

How are you supporting your employees?

Expectations about how the concept of work is delivered are shifting. Two thirds of employees across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) feel that the flexibility of digital tools required for work would influence their decision to apply for or accept a position at a company, according to a new study from VMware. In other words, those organisations unable or unwilling to support their employees with the right technology to collaborate, innovate and be creative, otherwise known as the digital employee experience, are going to struggle to attract, or indeed even retain, talent. In fact, the latter will be even more of a struggle, with 70% of respondents believing their current employers should be placing more importance on this area. 

To do that, employers need to identify who is responsible for the delivering positive employee experiences. This remains an issue – over a fifth of respondents to the VMware study felt that not knowing who to approach was a barrier to delivering a positive digital experience. 

Overcoming barriers to collaboration through teamwork

Put simply, the digital employee experience is the merging together of two separate business functions – IT and HR. HR has long been the gatekeeper of the employee experience, while say ‘digital’ to most businesses and they’ll automatically point you in the direction of IT. When the two are brought together, it can cause confusion over who owns what, with 49% of employees not knowing if they should talk to HR or IT about their digital experience issues. 

For many organisations, getting two functions to work together is a challenge – just 21% of employees reported that HR and IT collaborate all of the time. It’s ironic that the barrier to helping employees work more effectively, and being able to collaborate, is a lack of teamwork between different parts of an organisation. 

So, what’s the answer? For the majority of employees, it’s about HR and IT working together. Being able to offer a truly digital employee experience, with access to the devices and applications workers need, requires a technology core that can manage access and compliance while being flexible. That’s the remit of IT. To make sure it’s fit for purpose, however, requires mapping what employees need and how they need it, aligned with a deep understanding of what people are experiencing out of work and what those insights can bring to the workplace. In short, the human element, or HR’s bread and butter. 

If they do, businesses stand to reap significant rewards – namely better business growth and attraction of talent, driven by a more progressive culture and being rated as a top place to work. The research demonstrated a direct link between delivering a positive digital employee experience and better performing organisations. Employees that enjoy the freedom to work from personal devices, have access to productivity apps from day one and accessing apps on any device are more likely to work for high or hyper growth businesses. 

Delivering better performance with better experiences

It’s clear that providing a digital employee experience is more likely to result in better business performance, driven by an engaged and positive workforce. To achieve that, however, requires a collaboration between HR and IT that combines an understanding of what employees want with the right technology framework to deliver the apps, devices and tools they want, in the way they want them. Get that right, and businesses will be much better placed to compete successfully in the war for talent and set themselves up for operating in the digital era.