Retaining employees has always been a priority for our partners, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for many businesses due to economic instability, rising costs, and more remote working opportunities.
Retaining your employees helps retain knowledge within your business, be that knowledge about your services, processes, or clients, all of which benefit the business greatly.
Staff turnover raises costs for replacement and retraining, as well as productivity and commercial loss in the interim. Another less visible impact is the cultural damage that high staff turnover can have, resulting in lost loyalty and commitment and further staff churn. Many companies are now looking at staff turnover as an indicator of a solid business when choosing whom to work with; it indicates dependability and reliability, especially in the service sector.
Surprisingly, IT can greatly impact your employee experience, and you cannot afford to ignore it or not take advantage of and utilise it. So, how can IT help mitigate the negative impacts of high staff turnover, and how can it transform your business into an environment where people want to stay and commit?
Employees, especially the younger generation entering the workforce, increasingly value additional benefits more than salary. Some of the most valuable perks, such as a car allowance or health insurance, don’t have to be measured in pounds and pennies but instead should reflect the core beliefs of the company.
Days off can be a great motivator, potentially for employee of the month, for example, or allowing mental health days and support can show your company’s support of employees’ well-being. Flexible working hours to support difficult personal or family commitments can help attract and retain employees and having the setup to do this is vital (more on this later).
Encouraging a healthy lifestyle is a benefit to both employer and employee, leading to a happier and healthier workforce that has fewer sick days. This can be done through free healthy food and snacks, gym memberships, and active event memberships – even promoting team fitness events that encourage team building outside of work.
Nowadays, being provided with a laptop doesn’t count as a benefit. However, providing a nice, modern, and high-quality device does have an impact on the employee experience.
Modern, reliable devices and laptops improve their working experience by not having some old, second-hand laptop that is slow and causes frustration every day. By offering these newer devices that look much more presentable, we can help create pride in the organisation and themselves.
Giving employees the option to choose their device, within a few options you know are compatible and fit for purpose, can become a benefit to your employee with no extra cost to you.
For example, I recently gave an employee the option of a new laptop, and she chose the new Lenovo Yoga Slim. She won’t stop talking about how she shows it to all her friends and loves that it has leather on the outside! This was more cost-effective than the laptop I was going to suggest while also becoming a big benefit to her.
Although this is properly covered later in this article, having the right kit to make working from home a comfortable experience and showing you are flexible enough to allow this can have a big impact on the employee and improve productivity, so win-win.
First Impressions – Employee Onboarding
First impressions are important, especially with a new employee. How they are treated and the process surrounding their onboarding and first few days can have a significant impact on how they view the company going forward, and it is difficult to change this view after the fact.
The time your employee most talks about their job is when they first start, and that positive impression encourages them to spread the word about what a great place your company is to work for. A personal and well-planned onboarding process is key; this could involve giving them a work buddy, so they have a friend to support them from day one, paying for lunches with different teammates in different departments to encourage relationships across the business, but it should also include a clear induction plan to get them well integrated into your company and their future role.
Getting new employees set up on their computers, granting them access to all the systems and tools they will use, and teaching them how to access company systems – IT – is a significant part of the onboarding process today. It’s crucial that this is a smooth, productive, and encouraging experience for everyone.
The good news is that automation is readily available within the technology most companies are using – for example, if you’re using Microsoft 365, you could have the device sent to the new employee, who simply logs in and watches as it builds itself and provides them with all the systems and applications they need. Integrating logins into a Same-Sign-On environment also means they can immediately get access to all systems without the hassle of setting up or remembering loads of passwords (more on this later). Getting this process right can be an administrative burden, but if you have a good IT company (like Sereno, for example!) they can create a bespoke process for you and help to streamline it to make it a repeatable and reliable process.
The Right Tools for the Job – Remove frustration, limitations, and productivity loss
Most companies are now entirely dependent on technology, which can cause major frustration and negatively impact the employee experience if it’s not managed effectively. Not providing employees with the right tools and professional subscriptions to be effective in their roles can make them feel frustrated, underappreciated, and unsupported in their roles. The best employees want to be effective and productive and will get frustrated and demotivated if they’re restricted or limited.
One key example of employee frustration is having systems that are not integrated, don’t talk to each other, and require a lot of manual intervention. By choosing systems that can be integrated, you can improve productivity and streamline processes, improving efficiency and employee satisfaction. Even simply allowing the login to most, if not all, business applications to be one set of login details in a Same-Sign-On environment can do away with forgotten passwords and the need to login to 10 systems or applications a day! (Most companies now use 40 different apps and systems, imagine the time it takes to log in to these daily.)
Automating laborious business processes can also have a huge impact and is readily available within the tools that most businesses use. For example, Microsoft Power Automate can create quick automation and tasks between systems to remove administrators and manage multiple workflows between departments.
There are a huge number of apps and systems to choose from nowadays. However, having bespoke systems created specifically for you can result in outdated systems that don’t develop as the business does, can’t be supported long-term, and don’t integrate with other systems, creating data silos. That can get very frustrating. Choosing ‘off the shelf’ technology platforms can have a huge benefit and give your employees access to a toolkit that is improving and expanding each year. A great example is Microsoft 365; with over 20 apps available, most companies don’t scratch the surface of what is included or look at what they can utilise. Giving your employees access to these apps, within a secure manageable environment, gives them the freedom to develop and improve your operations.
Simple examples are:
- An estate agency we work with started using Microsoft Bookings to schedule viewing appointments. They estimate this saved each letting and sales employee two hours a day trying to organise and rearrange these visits, not to mention the phone bill savings.
- A commercial factory started using Microsoft Shifts to create shifts for staff that were easily accessible by managers and staff, created a way for staff to easily check in on mobiles, and tracked holidays to manage future shift patterns.
Support When They Need it – Reliable IT Support
The great resignation has affected the IT and tech industries more than most. according to Wired, 31% of workers in the IT industry alone looked for new roles.
Not only does this make recruiting or retaining technical support staff difficult but has also impacted the IT outsourcing market if they’re unable to retain their staff with a positive company culture.
Having a reliable IT support team available can have a big impact on the employee experience. Your employees will always need support, no matter how integrated, and user-friendly your technology is. Frustration with technology and lack of support can leave employees feeling unsupported in their jobs and more willing to leave. Making this support simple to use, accessible, and available is key. At Sereno, we use a mixture of technology and customer service to do just that – providing instant access to engineers through live chat, giving employees the ability to book time with an engineer at their convenience, and automating the approval process to speed up requests.
Work-Life Balance – Effective Remote Working
Whether you are a supporter of remote working or not, it’s impossible to avoid some form of this in the post-pandemic world if you want to retain your employees. Forbes indicates that 94% of employees are now looking for remote or flexible working, and this is the most common reason for an employee to look elsewhere, even if they are happy with their role and the company.
The attraction of remote working is one of the biggest reasons employees are moving companies, either to get a better work-life balance and cut down on travel time or to take advantage of the increased opportunities now available outside their close geographic area. Having the right setup that allows for simple access from anywhere can not only attract new employees but also contribute to a better culture and employee experience.
Promoting and supporting the right work-from-home setup is important and can be as simple as ensuring your employees have a second screen, a docking station, keyboard, or even a lumbar support to put on their chairs. Not only do these show support for working from home, but they also show you care outside of the office. These are small costs that make a big difference. At Sereno, we offer to make a bespoke “hybrid working” package for your chosen setup and technology.
Face-to-Face Interaction – Creating a Culture Through Hybrid Working
On the other side, use your IT to encourage people to come back into the office. No doubt, having in-person interaction improves relationships, strengthens ties, and makes it easier to support your culture. Hybrid, rather than fully remote working, is becoming many companies’ chosen option to meet this employee demand post-pandemic – try going into central London now on a Monday or Friday; it’s a ghost town! So even if this is once a month or a couple of days a week, we can use your IT setup to encourage this.
Kitting out your employees with laptops makes it easy for them to pop them in a bag and head into the office. However, once there, you need to ensure they can work as comfortably, if not more so, than at home. By supplying standardised laptops, and having desks with two monitors and a docking station waiting at each desk, any employee can come in, grab any desk, connect one cable, and they’re in. Not having the right adaptors, having to reformat for screen size, having cables all over the place, and climbing under desks to plug in, doesn’t make this easy and simple, which is what you want to encourage your employees to come in.
One way we at Sereno capitalise on the demand for remote working is by giving all employees a subscription to a shared office space. This way, we can attract talent from further afield, but encourage employees to meet up at least once a week in a central shared office space to build relationships and communication across the team – this also reduces our operational costs, which allows us to offer our services at a more competitive price!
Online Community – Using an Intranet to Support Team Culture
The increase in remote working and flexible workers can lead to a workforce feeling more dispersed and less connected, which can impact your culture if not managed carefully. Creating an intranet, or a centralised virtual area, can be a great way to encourage interaction, prove support, and build a culture around it. An intranet can be used to create a community within your organisation and be a good example of showcasing the support available to employees, and the culture of the team. Within an Intranet you could:
- Provide an easy way to encourage employee feedback (anonymously or not).
- Encourage a ‘cheers for peers’ process where employees can publicly thank others for their help and vote on the employee of the month.
- Provide answers to the FAQ for employees.
- Give easy access to internal processes.
- Make HR documents and employee handbooks readily available.
- Update the company on upcoming events – both social and work-related.
- Provide company-wide reporting to show the performance of the business.
- Give updates and encourage committees to represent internal interests.
- Showcase personal bios on all staff to encourage relationships.
- Include ‘quick links’ to other systems and information hubs.
- Include holiday requests and sickness logging.
At Sereno, we have created this all within SharePoint. This also had the added benefit of removing the need for an HR Platform, an Employee Recognition and Satisfaction platform, and a Documentation Management platform – with the added benefit of linking to other SharePoint sites with relevant documentation and being accessible through Microsoft Teams for everyone.
Communicate – Effective Meetings and Support
Team video meetings online can also help substitute for that lack of in-person interaction, help build relationships, and make people feel like part of a team. Encouraging staff to have video on is a simple way to show engagement and add a personal touch. Regular team meetings, even if they are just a summary of what people are working on or where they need help, can create a support structure, and make the employees feel included. Public recognition within these team meetings also goes a long way to encourage loyalty and emotional investment; if staff don’t feel appreciated, this can lead to a lack of motivation.
Email can easily lead to miscommunication. We have all experienced a hastily written email that came across as aggressive or dispassionate to the recipient, which can easily spiral when employees can’t read body language. Encouraging quick conversations via video calls rather than emails will help remove this miscommunication and encourage more personal conversations and friendships to form. People work for people, not companies, so support the development of friendships. However, no one wants constant calls if they’re busy or in the middle of something, so try to utilise ‘status’ sharing in something like Slack or Microsoft Teams, to easily see if someone is busy, on a call, away, or available.
Mobile Phone Freedom – Use of VoIP Phone Apps
‘Mobile phone freedom’ is becoming a request of many employees who either resent having to use and carry a separate mobile phone, too often use their own personal phone for work calls, or risk having their companies control their personal devices too much.
Using a cloud VoIP service means you could provide employees with mobile and desktop applications to make and receive business calls and have direct dials without giving out personal numbers or paying for calls domestically and abroad.
Another option is using a simple, low impact Mobile Device Management system. This means employees can use all the business applications they want on their personal phones, giving them easy access, but lock these apps down with security controls without affecting or giving access to anything else on their personal devices.