Critical to those efforts is how companies equip workers to perform their roles with the devices they want and access to data and applications wherever they are. It is a rethink of current approaches to personal technology, but the prize is a better employee experience, lower churn and a more engaged workforce.
The Great Resignation, the Great Attrition – whatever you want to call it – has seen a huge shift in employer-employee relations over the last few months. After years of companies being warned that a failure to put workers first could have dire consequences for their staff retention, it looks like it is actually happening.
According to McKinsey, “more than 15 million U.S. workers—and counting—have quit their jobs since April 2021”. In the UK, the number of job vacancies in July to September 2021 reached a record high of 1,102,000, the second consecutive month the three-month average has risen over one million. This, in marked contrast to the middle of 2020, when there were reports of thousands of applications per vacancy, as workers made redundant in the first days of the pandemic rushed to find new roles.
The shift in employee-employer relations
What’s caused this dramatic change? For employees, it’s the realization that there is more than one way to do their jobs. Proven by their own experiences of remote working, they are no longer prepared to put up with jobs that do not support the ways they want to work. In addition, many have become used to their own technology, connected by domestic broadband. Unsurprisingly, a return to office-based cubicles, old devices and limited opportunities for a flexible lifestyle, balancing work and living, does not appeal.
Of course, the clamor to replicate personal technology experiences in the workplace is nothing new. From the consumerization of IT to the bring-your-own-device trend of a decade ago, there has long been friction between what the office provides and what employees are using in their own lives.
What the pandemic has done is create an added urgency. Companies were already fighting desperately for talent, and they need to hold onto their new recruits long after they accept the job offer. Whether retaining existing staff or ensuring new joiners stay beyond the first days and weeks, companies need to understand that the way they provision technology contributes to the overall employee experience. One study found that nearly a third of workers (32%) have left an employer whose tech was a barrier to their ability to do good work. In addition, it reported that candidates were now more likely to apply for a job because they heard a company’s employees use great technology and turn down a job because the tech was either out of date or hard to use.
It is clear that whether retaining existing staff or ensuring new joiners stay beyond the first days and weeks, companies need to understand that the way they provision technology contributes to the overall employee experience. The onboarding, support and offboarding of employees is now becoming a key differentiator.
Building the right employee experience
So, what will contribute to building an experience that not only retains staff but acts as a core part of the employee value proposition to attract that all important new talent? What is it that workers want?
It depends: on individual preferences, on the needs of their role, and yes, on business requirements. The point is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, the solution needs to be able to support a wide range of requirements.
That’s not limited to devices, however. It covers apps as well, more specifically the ability to access the apps and services employees need, without raising tickets, by just selecting what they want and having it on all the devices they use for work. A true App Store-like experience.
This isn’t new, of course. Any device, any app, anytime, anywhere, any how – it’s been part of the vision for the digital workspace for some time now. Yet, for most organizations, it doesn’t quite work.
The reason for that is how devices are procured in most enterprises. In many cases, it’s a question of process or culture, rather than the limitations of technology itself. Currently, most devices are purchased on a three- or five-year cycle, with decisions made based on predictions on number of users, business growth and need. This is theoretically fine if the forecasts are accurate, the business neither grows nor shrinks outside of expectations, and that potential new joiners are catered for. It also relies on existing employees not moving roles, or if they do, that they have the same tech requirements.
Those are a lot of if’s, however. As we’ve seen, trying to make accurate predictions can be challenging. What’s more likely to happen is that new joiners will be given hand-me-down devices and most staff will at some point have outdated devices. It all adds up to a less than optimal experience for both the existing workforce and new talent.
A new way to equip employees
It also doesn’t reflect the way in which technology is rapidly evolving. What was cutting-edge three years ago is now run of the mill. The procurement model needs to change. It requires a shift to a new device-as-a-service approach, in which companies do not own but rather lease equipment over much shorter cycles – in some cases month long.
That way they can more closely manage the devices they need. New joiners get new equipment, enjoying a fresh out-of-the-box moment, while internal movers can be re-equipped depending on the requirements of their new positions. If the company has to scale up or down, it can do so without the added concern of technology being under or over utilized.
Combined with an App Store-style approach to supplying and updating apps and services, this DaaS consumption model means workforces can be properly equipped at all times. Workforces can tailor their personal technology to their own specifications, and everyone can focus on their work, rather than their IT.
This ultimately means a consistently high level of employee experience, not just at the point of joining, but throughout the workers’ time at the company. From onboarding, through employment, and even offboarding, it is the sort of experience that makes individuals advocates for businesses, improves churn and boosts talent attraction and retention. Or, to look at it another way, get through the Great Resignation with a skilled, engaged and well-equipped workforce.
At Orange, we have developed our Device-as-a-Service offer to help companies that want to boost their employee experience and equip their staff to meet the needs of the digital workspace. To find out more, take a look at our new ebook.
Bob is a sought-after consultant, recognized for his thoughtful and insightful contributions to digital transformation and for developing the Orange virtual desktop solutions. In his spare time, Bob competes in ultramarathons and long-distance treks. His next adventure is a 300-mile Arctic race in the Yukon.