IT departments are rightly concerned with the provision and maintenance of robust and secure enterprise technology; and this remains of utmost importance in a data-driven landscape. But equally, organisations today operate within a fiercely contested market, and technology can now play a greater role in attracting and retaining talent, alongside maximising workforce productivity. Choices made around enterprise technology are therefore not only important from a security and functionality perspective but can also have a significant impact on employee engagement. This, in turn, can enhance overall business performance and foster growth.
Defining employee engagement
A satisfied employee might work their contracted hours without complaint. However, it’s more than likely they won't go the extra mile for a business. But an engaged employee doesn't just work for a pay packet, or to achieve the next promotion – they are emotionally invested in improving an organisation and working towards its organisation's goals. When employees are engaged, they don’t just do their work – they care about it.
Engaged employees have been shown to be much more productive. In fact, highly engaged teams are said to be 21 per cent more productive than their less engaged counterparts. This no doubt also has an impact on an organisation’s bottom lines. In fact, businesses, or departments, which score highest on engagement metrics report 21 per cent higher levels of profitability than those inhabiting the lowest quartile, according to Gallup. Similarly, AON states that just a five percentage point boost to employee engagement can equal a three percentage point rise in company revenue.
Engaged employees can therefore have a positive impact on business success and should fall under any effective business strategy. Employee engagement is also a positive force in a market being transformed by digital disruption, which has triggered skills shortages and uncertainty among the workforce. Attracting and engaging skilled employees is increasingly challenging, and businesses must deploy a variety of tactics to ensure they get the right staff – and keep them.
IT, hardware and the engaged employee
The question is, what role does IT have to play in attracting and retaining talent?
As the world becomes increasingly digital, and devices play an ever-greater role in day-to-day life, an increasingly germane factor within both talent acquisition and employee engagement is enterprise technology. An overwhelming majority (93 per cent) of millennials state that a company possessing cutting-edge technology, services and solutions is an important consideration in accepting a job, according to Microsoft. While Ultimate Software reports that one in three workers would resign if made to use outdated technology.
Enabling infrastructure – which includes employee technology and processes – is the fifth largest global contributor to improving employee engagement, according to AON. AON adds that in Europe last year, enabling infrastructure achieved the highest growth in importance of any of the top five drivers for employee engagement – an increase of four percentage points.
To generate engagement, an employee needs to feel the technology they use enables them to do their job effectively. Nowadays, with the rise of mobile and remote working, this may mean on the move or away from the office. Workers care about the enterprise devices and infrastructure they use. The bar for expectation has been raised by the rapid development of devices and technology focused on consumers. This consumerisation of technology means that employees expect stylish devices of the highest quality, as well as solutions such as cloud computing platforms which enable them to easily work from anywhere. This is further amplified by the arrival of younger generations into the working world, many of whom are used to using such technologies in their personal lives from a young age.
It’s for this reason that IT decision makers have a leading role to play in helping to drive employees’ feeling of being valued. When delivering an enterprise infrastructure and investing in devices, they need to factor in core functional features like security, reliability and connectivity; but also ‘softer’ traits such as portability, form factor and ergonomic and aesthetic design. After all, these are the factors a consumer would judge a laptop on, so the same criteria should be applied to devices which will be used by employees all day, every day.
Investing for the future
Budgets permitting, enterprise devices should be refreshed regularly, thus allowing employees to enjoy the latest range of cutting-edge features. Moreover, issuing new employees a top-of-the-line device, not a hand-me-down from an employee who has just left the business, makes a statement to that employee that the business appreciates them joining.
Whether employees are new or company veterans, businesses that succeed in engaging their workforce will increase their chances of having the experience and expertise they need in a rapidly changing digital landscape. By investing in enabling enterprise infrastructure, and innovative devices which are a cut above, IT departments can make an essential contribution to that employee engagement drive and reap the benefits in overall business growth.
Nick Offin, Head of Sales, Marketing and Operations, dynabook Northern Europe