What makes your workplace the place to be for employees?
Regardless of the individual you are looking to attract to your organisation, what makes you attractive to them? In this article I want to highlight not just the change in approach, but also the transformation of the IT department as a concept.
In my role as Chief Technologist for Modern Workspace at CDW UK, and working for several organisations over the years, I can give a unique insight not just my own journey through the changes we have seen but also the projects and programs I have been involved in at BT, Vodafone and Microsoft around the remote workforce. This Article is for you to digest and hopefully build on.
What makes you attractive to talent?
I was recently at Durham University for my daughter’s graduation. Whilst there, I spoke to other graduates in the same year and discussed the employment and potential career choices they were making. One individual stood out in that they were signing back on for a post graduate course in Data Science. Apart from the fact that this shows an acute awareness of the technology trends and needs of businesses, it left me wondering where they would end up working.
This brings me back to the opening question: what makes you attractive to the talent you are attempting to hire?
I have worked for companies in the past that had company car schemes, the differentiator here was the choice of manufacturer and model you were presented with. One company may have Vauxhall and Skoda while another has Audi and BMW; you would consider one employer over the other because of the selection of makes and models you were given because they aligned to your brand and preferences. Company car schemes are becoming more seldom, especially in the UK, but the concept and the role they played in attracting staff should not be underestimated, especially when you can apply this concept to the technology that is provided to prospective employees.
For years the device provided to you as an employee has been based upon an IT specification that was quite often heavily influenced by the procurement process. This needs to change; the applications and data that is required to do a job may be specified but how a user accesses this and the technology they use must be considered against their own personal preference. Do you prefer to respond to emails on your laptop, or send chats on your mobile? We have preferences in how we communicate; when, where and with what technology.
The traditional model of IT, where users are tied to specific devices and applications, is no longer relevant in the era of web 2.0 and cloud computing. Users can now access a variety of online services and platforms that offer them the functionality they need, without having to install or maintain any software on their own devices. This means that users can choose the device that best suits their preferences, whether it is a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, or even a smartwatch, and still access the same online applications and data. This also means that users can switch between devices seamlessly, depending on the context and the task at hand, without losing any productivity or efficiency. Web 2.0 and other solutions have removed the requirement for fully installed applications, allowing for a more dynamic and platform-independent consumption of application capability.
When looking to attract employees the package has changed; healthcare, leave days and salary remain but the icing on the cake must now be a brand alignment that makes a future employee feel empowered to achieve more; to be amazing.
The role of IT in attracting and retaining talent
I will visualise how the role of IT needs to change to enable organisations to attract and retain the best talent. Imagine that I just gave you a fixed sum to go and buy a new car; which car would you buy, what capabilities would it have, what extras, what colour? When you buy this car, there are a few things you wouldn’t consider, like building a road, a charging point or fuel station, street signs or lamps. This is because you expect those to be available to you, and your focus is on the vehicle. In the same way, IT should become the road, the destinations the applications. Forgive the oversimplification, but I believe organisations need to see IT as a provider of organisational data in a secure, protected and controlled manner, but the way in which this information is accessed becomes as flexible as the choice of vehicle you drive on the road with.
When we take this approach, we separate equipment choice from data and security, providing choice to employees to decide on the device type, colour, size as well as working location. The data and applications that are required to do a job are available for consumption, the equipment, the location and the connectivity being separate and independent. Imagine now that you offer this choice to a prospective employee, how would this differentiate you from others in the employment market?
So, when you are looking to attract the best and brightest to your organisation; how closely aligned is your technology strategy?
Retaining talent by re-thinking productivity
Changing how we think about productivity and the role all the departments in an organisation is required if you want to attract and retain the best and brightest talent. Your most valuable asset is always your people, they’re the most diverse, independent and creative resource and must be empowered. Equip them with the technology, tools, and culture they need, and you allow them to become amazing.
In this article I have outlined that organisations need to adopt a customer-centric approach to productivity; where all departments are aligned with the needs and expectations of the customers - your employees. I have also suggested that data and security should not be seen as barriers or costs, but as enablers and assets that can support the organisation's transition to an as-a-service model. The benefits of this approach provide values such as increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention, as well as improved efficiency, agility, and competitiveness.
Reach out to discuss how ‘as a service’ concepts from CDW for the Modern Workspace can relieve your technology departments of mundane overhead and allow your organisation to create an environment where amazing happens.