Businesses are trapped in a talent contest once again. As businesses endeavour to attract and keep the most talented employees, Paul Blore, Managing Director of Netmetix, explains how cloud computing can help organisations offer an attractive proposal.
Declaring victory in the so-called war for talent remains a constant challenge for UK businesses of all sizes. Employment levels are now at a record high, creating a fierce competition for the brightest stars as companies fight to keep skilled employees from the grasps of their competitors – and struggle to attract talented replacements when they fail. It’s a applicant’s market – and the best are choosing to play the field. Earlier this year, CEOs identified ‘human capital management’ as a primary challenge, while HR leaders cited talent attraction and skills shortages as two priority issues that are keeping them up at night. Ironically, another significant challenge – remote working – could actually be a perfect solution for their insomnia, but a large number still fear it rather than choose to embrace it. As businesses struggle to become Employers of Choice, the most successful have realised that technology can be a vital role in attracting – and retaining – the brightest stars. Modern business has turned into the ultimate talent competition. The verdict is clear: if you’re shooting for the stars, the best way to get there is via the cloud.
It’s no surprise that the office environment has changed in recent times. In the digital workplace, the business tools are different. But our capabilities, ambitions and expectations have also changed. Employees now expect mobility, connectivity and speed as well as personalisation, automation and real-time collaboration. Why? Because these experiences have an impact on everywhere else in our lives; from purchasing groceries, to how we watch TV, bank, or pay for items in-store. Technology is universal and it has completely altered how we live our lives. The purists state that we think ‘digital-first’, but when it comes to the majority of consumer technologies, often we don’t think at all, we just ‘do’ - automatically. This is the new normal, the new world we live in. However, it’s a world that has not yet been embraced amongst British organisations.
British businesses have got skilled employees, but many are not being with provided with cloud technologies that are ideally positioned to support them. Many businesses have not yet made the move to the cloud-based infrastructure that can enhance job satisfaction and drive productivity. In many cases, employees have to work with old, cumbersome legacy systems that impede processes and drive inefficiencies. They’re often slowed down by silo systems that prevent speedy access to vital data and discourage collaboration – or by software that makes even simple tasks onerous and life-sapping. It’s well publicised that the UK is far behind much of the EU in terms of workforce productivity. Simple and cost-effective productivity solutions are far too often overlooked.
The downstream effect on the competition for talent is significant. The factors that encourage or deter employee engagement often come down to factors rooted in a businesses’ culture and the workplace environment. Ambitious staff want to be recognised for doing a good job – but to achieve this, they need to be supported by tools that enable them to be as effective and productive as possible. Without those tools, it’s easy for employees to become demotivated and disengaged. It’s only a short step from there to the recruitment agency.
In addition, a work/life balance is increasingly considered to be a key element of job satisfaction. Flexibility is now a vital requirement with those who are keen to find a role that adapts to the demands and rhythm of modern lifestyles. This is forcing businesses to alter their cultures to provide remote, mobile and home-working. In organisations where work/life balance demands have been positively implemented, the increase in productivity and job satisfaction is impressive. However, in companies where traditional, rigid approaches are maintained, the risk of losing talent is increasing.
Look to the Cloud
Fortunately, technology provides clear solutions to enhance job satisfaction and aid employee retention. Cloud computing – which offers businesses enterprise-grade IT infrastructure hosted centrally in secure data centres – provides an agile platform from which organisations can deliver a variety of tools to increase productivity and collaboration. Cloud computing offers businesses the opportunity to – flexibly and cost-effectively – make use of the latest and most appropriate applications that can automate processes, provide complex analytics or make the most of the Internet of Things. The smartest applications can help deskill dull and repetitive tasks, so that employees are able to do more creative and high-value tasks. The resulting impact on job satisfaction, recognition and career development is significant.
Cloud technology can also help to facilitate remote and flexible working that supports work/life balance. Although the concept of remote working is a perceived challenge for HR managers, this need not be the case. The cloud delivers a resilient platform that drives mobility and connectivity, regardless of location and physical hardware. Cloud computing delivers ‘borderless environments’, providing employees a seamless experience and reliable connectivity wherever they happen to be. Furthermore, it allows organisations to deliver IT at scale – so as businesses continue to grow and increase the size of their teams, each employee benefits from access to the same tools, platforms and information. In the process, staff are better supported with technologies that improve collaboration and communication. This not only helps to create an efficient workforce, it can improve morale and make for more engaged employees.
The competition for talent retention
It is undoubtedly the case that cloud technology is an enabler of operational, productivity and efficiency gains. However, its effect on human capital management can often be overlooked. Cloud computing can certainly power tangible business value and become the backbone of any company; it can make processes more efficient, unlock revenues and fuel growth. But its innovative application can also be the signature of a forward thinking business and help to power employee engagement and talent retention.
As the competition for talent becomes ever-more fierce and companies fight to retain their star performers, the final judgement is simple: all modern workers expect their employers to provide the same tools of mobility, connectivity and collaboration that they experience throughout their everyday lives. And if they don’t get them, it’s highly likely that they’ll look for somewhere else.
Business leaders are focusing their attention on talent retention. Though the most forward thinking might have stars in their eyes, they know the key to winning the competition for talent is in the cloud.
Paul Blore, Managing Director at Netmetix
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