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Technology’s role in attracting and retaining employees

By Ian Hodson, Head of Reward/Deputy Director of HR, University of Lincoln
10 April 2018

The challenges in finding, recruiting and retaining employees has never been more difficult, it’s a buyer’s market where Glassdoor reviews can make or break a recruitment drive. The University of Lincoln’s Head of Reward, Ian Hodson, discusses how technology is now more than just a business function enabler, it’s a cornerstone of company culture where paper laggards lose out to the forward-thinking technologically advanced organisation.

Just as technology is having a transformative impact on every industry and business, so too is it impacting recruitment, retention and motivation of staff. A mere 5-10 years ago, businesses would often provide better technology than employees would have at home. That has completely flipped and it is the employee that now has the latest gadgets, laptops, apps, and smartphones.

With the culture of the peer review where TripAdvisor will tell you where the best places to go are, we’re seeing the rise of workplace reviews with sites like Glassdoor, which review every aspect of an employer from its culture, hiring practices, salary, and perks. Expectations of employers are far greater and with technology moving at a pace, getting the ‘wow’ factor is increasingly difficult.

For Human Resources professionals, we’re all chasing a holistic world where employees are motivated by the company they work for. It leads to an engaged workforce that will be inherently more productive; they want to work hard. We’re always chasing that trigger point – how do you motivate existing employees, how do you attract new talent, and how do you reward them?

The average number of employers in an employee’s lifetime is up from 6 to 11. When we are looking to find new people and don’t offer a good workplace experience, we will not attract and retain the best people. They will go somewhere else. It’s that simple. Employers have to battle a lot harder than in the past to keep good employees.

It comes down to culture, in my view. And a significant portion of that is now tied into the technologies a company uses – tech and its availability is the most symbolic aspect of business culture nowadays. These days we know we can’t give someone a piece of paper to carry out a business function – it’s a demotivator to not have technology in place to improve business processes.

Google, as the example, is a flagship employer – it does things differently. We need to give employees the technology and the tools to do their jobs; they must be in place as a basic hygiene factor. But, after that, we need to think about what will drive people to be proud to work for a company.

And, I think it’s this area that we can really start thinking differently about how we carry out every day business functions. When trying to live up to employee expectations, every technology purchase becomes more about how it improves business processes AND improves the job of employees. They expect apps that work well, are easy to use and look good, and they expect to be able to interact with software from anywhere – they expect cloud-based solutions.

With the increase in the number of employers, it’s becoming more important than ever to focus not just on finding employees, but keeping them too, and employers now need to look further than the typical benefits.  It’s quite easy to make a business case for a piece of technology – expenses for example – which can be built on the savings it brings to the business. But, whether it saves you money or not, you’ve got to invest in technology because, quite simply, it’s how you’ve got to be seen to do things.

Selenity Expenses is a good example of why technology is a motivating factor. Ask your employees to submit paper expenses and they probably will be fine with it, but when a claim gets lost, or delayed because paper goes missing, you’re actively demotivating your staff. Turning your expenses process into a digital solution that can be done via mobile (we use Selenity Expenses solution) where employees can submit claims from anywhere, at any time, and keep track of where their claim is, does the opposite.

There are, however, many other technologies that are going to add value to your employee’s roles, which, again, aren’t just about helping them do their jobs, it’s about giving them the best, most advanced tools that demonstrate you investing in them. This is all in addition, of course, to competitive pay, a good work/life balance, bonus schemes, training, and staff social events.

The onus really now is on the employer to provide the very best working environment, not just to help aid productivity, but because it truly does affect how long employees will work with your company.

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