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by Keith Tilley, EVP at Sungard Availability Services

They are known as the ‘head down generation’; so named for the way they move through life permanently glued to smartphones and tablets. The latest employees to enter the workforce are digitally savvy and hugely demanding when it comes to technology.

These employees are faced with new opportunities on a daily basis, and are not afraid to explore their options. Seven in ten young people plan to leave their job in the next five years, leaving organisations under huge pressure to deliver the best possible working environments in a bid to retain talent – from great benefits to cutting edge tech. Keeping the best talent has always been a challenge, and for many organisations it’s only getting harder.

Get the tech or lose the talent 



This isn’t idle speculation: our recent research[1] found that over a fifth of office workers admitted to leaving a job because they didn’t feel they had access to the latest digital technology. Of course, when you consider that 76 per cent of employees believe that having the right digital tools are crucial to their role it’s easy to see how frustrations can escalate quickly.Businesses who fail to listen to employee demands and invest in the tools they need could soon find themselves rapidly losing headcount.

People understandably want to work for the most innovative companies: the ones that are making waves. Yet nearly 39 per cent of employees don’t think their employers are moving fast enough when it comes to digital transformation. In this age, not having the right technology in place can leave you trailing behind the competition, and is increasingly enough to cost a business its top talent. Businesses simply cannot afford to lose any talented employees, not when tech skills are becoming so valued and sparse.

In the pressing war for talent, the simple answer lies in the need to invest in digital tools. However, in established enterprise organisations, existing legacy IT can cause problems when integrating new technology. New applications may not be compatible with current systems, meaning a full overhaul of an IT system would be needed. For most organisations, they simply do not have the resources or time to overhaul these systems, therefore the long term gains of nurturing a digital business are often put on the back-burner.

Mixed Employee Messages 

Another issue is the growing digital disconnect felt by employees. Although the majority of the workforce recognises the importance of digital technologies, nearly a third noted that it has made their job more stressful while 30 per cent claimed these tools have made their role more difficult. For many organisations, this is a serious obstacle in securing digital investment: if the IT department are met with push back from employees, it will be much harder to make a business case to those who control budgets.

That said, when used effectively, digital tools more than prove their worth. Over half of IT decision makers felt that digital success equated to both increased customer service and satisfaction, and 43 per cent felt it contributed to revenue growth. But the tools themselves are not enough;throwing money at the problem will only take you so far.

Organisations need to build the right environment and culture, as well as provide education for employees to help them use the tools to optimal effect.Having the right technical skills and receiving the right training were named as the two biggest challenges hindering digital transformation. 34 per cent of workers found there wasn’t enough training, whilst a further 23 per cent said the training they had was inadequate.

Organisations must consider a continuous investment in training to make sure employees are competent and happy with the tech they have to work with on the day to day. With the IT skills gap getting bigger by the day, securing the future of your employees and business by investing in their skills has never been more integral.

Beyond this, assessing and developing an agile company culture is also a good way of ensuring a good return on the investment of digital tools. Early adopters of technology can help to increase a wider uptake if these people are harnessed to influence employees towards the cause. Once you begin to encourage employees to embrace changes to technology, future tech should be easier to incorporate; increasing adoption rates and impacting the business sooner rather than later.

It’s clear that digital transformation isn’t a straight path to success. It requires various stages of investment, and can feel too time and capital consuming for the effort, especially when processes are ticking over well in a business. But to remain competitive, things can’t just tick over. They need to exceed and be innovative. If you don’t do it, your competitors will; and they’ll likely poach your employees in the process.

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