Why a lack of quality tools drives an exodus of talent

Read time 6 mins

Written April 2018

At one time or another, we’ve all been on the receiving end of a break-up. Shifting nervously in their seat and deliberately avoiding eye contact, the soon-to-be-ex tells you they’re leaving. And it hurts, because you thought that everything was going so well.

Then comes the real punch in the guts. “It isn’t me. It’s you.”

But this is the scenario playing out in board rooms up and down the country. Employees from all areas of businesses are handing in their notice and seeking pastures new, and one of the most popular reasons given is that they feel they’re not getting the digital tools they need to do their jobs.

It’s a completely avoidable situation. It’s not necessarily that employees need to get a daily slap on the back and be told what a wonderful job they’re doing. But the lack of investment in their working environment – whether they work in sales, marketing, accounts, or even IT itself – leaves them feeling neglected, as if how they spend their productive hours isn’t an important consideration.

They’re also frustrated, feeling held back by their employer. As a CIO, you understand that the best talent is often the most ambitious. After all, you were there once, chomping at the bit and keen to make a lasting impression. (And hopefully you still are!) So if they know that they could be achieving so much more – and helping the business perform better as a result – it’s incredibly irritating. And when they see your competitors investing more in technology, why wouldn’t they think of jumping ship?

So how serious is this problem, and what can CIOs do to plug the drain on their company’s most skilled staff?

When the grass is actually greener

Recent research shows there’s a mass migration of talent, fleeing underperforming businesses and finding new homes in more digitally-savvy organisations:

  • 76% of UK workers consider having the latest digital tools crucial
  • 33% admitted they would be embarrassed to work in an organisation that lacked the newest tools
  • 21% have left a job because the lack of digital tools meant a lack of competitive edge

It’s easy to attribute this attitude to millennials, who are familiar with the latest technology outside of the workplace and see it as a must-have within the office as well. But it’s not just the youngest generation of workers who see digital adoption as imperative:

The bottom line is, it matters to employees. And if it matters to them, it should matter to you, because it’s costing your company its best talent.

“With employees now demanding the implementation of digital working practices, the impetus is with senior managers to ensure that everything is being done to answer these demands and provide the workforce with the tools needed to help the organisation thrive. As ever, businesses that listen to and act on the suggestions of their staff will prosper, while those who fail to heed employee demands place themselves at risk of familiar staff retention issues. As the research shows, technology is now a critical factor in keeping staff productive and fulfilled in their roles. Ignore this at your peril.”
Eddie Curzon, Regional Valley Director, CBI

What’s important comes from the bottom up

Previous generations worked in organisations where the ethos came from the top down: an MD or CEO told staff what was important, and they listened and dutifully complied. And the same was true in terms of IT. A CIO would tell various departments what tools were needed to do their job, and they took it as gospel.

Today’s employees are not as accepting. They don’t necessarily follow best practices from the board, but bring in their own innovative ways of working. This isn’t a threat to a CIO; it’s something a CIO should embrace. A company’s most valuable talent aren’t the ones who sit quietly and accept the status quo. The most vital assets are those who ask questions, demand better, and strive for more. Because in a competitive environment, these are the people who are going to discover new ways to get your business ahead of the pack.

The question is, what are you doing to provide the working environment expected by your best workers? Take a look across your expenditure and ask yourself if you’re getting value for money from your partners and service providers. Are they delivering the level of service that satisfies your top talent? Or are they perhaps wasting a sizeable chunk of your budget? Think about what you could do with a provider who offered a better service while also saving you 20% each year. That’s extra budget in your wallet to keep hold of those restless employees, or to implement those much-needed digital tools.

Defining digital leader

Just like a token bunch of flowers won’t fix a broken relationship, throwing a raft of new systems at your staff isn’t the answer. For technology to make a discernible difference, your employees need to know how to maximise its potential, how it will affect their working lives, and how it can improve their performance.

But this isn’t always happening. Tellingly, 23% of workers said they don’t understand how to use the digital tools they’ve been given. ‘All the gear and no idea’ doesn’t make you a digital leader.

Being a digital leader is much more than signing a cheque for new technology and hoping it works. It’s about the working environment as a whole: from training staff so they’re comfortable with these new systems, to providing automatic updates to the latest versions so their IT is slick, efficient and always up to date.

Important talent are often beavering away at all hours in all locations, so what happens if they need immediate IT support where they’re on their own device at an unsociable time? Being a digital leader also encompasses:

  • 24/7/365 availability to resolve issues when they strike, not when it suits IT support
  • A Service Desk with the skills and tools to offer speedy resolutions
  • Technology to remote control a device or visually show a user how to fix an issue
  • A familiar and friendly designated team of experts who understand who every user is and what’s important to them

It’s part of the anytime, anywhere package that shows your important workers that you care; that you’re committed to providing the optimum working environment where they can flourish along with your business.

The right tools, with the right support from the right partners doesn’t just help to retain top talent; it boosts productivity across the whole company. In other words, it pays to look after the health of your IT. Because an investment in digital tools is an investment in your people, and therefore an investment in your business. Having the technological tools for the job keeps your best people within your walls and gives you greater chance of success.

Key takeaways:

  • Over three-quarters of UK workers think the latest digital tools are crucial
  • Over a fifth of workers have left a job due to poor IT functions
  • The ambitious talent who leave are often those most valuable to your business
  • Having a healthy IT shows talent they don’t have to look elsewhere to fulfil their potential
  • Tools alone aren’t enough: you need the right support and partners to ensure a smooth running
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