Blog · 29 Sep 2017

People first: the era of the digital employee

Join our Chief HR Officer, Rebecca Markovits, as she explores how the digital age has transformed the 'war for talent'.

Chief HR officer

The ‘war for talent’

In my line of work, you’d be hard pressed to scan your newsfeed and find an article that isn’t focussed on how important talent is to supporting sustainable business success. And to be honest, this is nothing new. The ‘war for talent’ kicked off 20 years ago when McKinsey’s Steven Hankin first coined the phrase. And that war rages on, simply because even a few talented people can make a huge difference.

However, the rules of that war just changed. Deloitte’s 2017 report, ‘2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends’, specifically called out HR and business leaders to ‘rewrite the rules’, because technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. We are now entering the ‘era of the digital employee’ and to make headway, we need to understand what current and potential employees truly care about.

So what makes talent tick?

We all know that the way we work is changing. Mobile technologies, apps (both corporate and generic) and ever-present connectivity, mean people are no longer tied to a desk or an office. Already more than half (55 per cent) of employees now work ‘flexibly’, either on the go, at client sites or from home. And 61 per cent want easier access to communications when working on the move.

Employees like the freedom and flexibility of working anywhere, anytime. And employers like the positive impact flexible working can have on costs, productivity and staff retention. As a result, improving the employee experience is one of the primary objectives for digital transformation amongst CEOs interviewed in our latest report.

Collaboration technologies open up a world of possibilities

It’s great to see that the CEOs we polled display a great deal of confidence in the digital experience they offer their employees. More than three-quarters describe it as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. However, I can’t help but wonder whether the reality falls short of the ambition in some cases — particularly given the barriers our interviewees note are holding them back.

Existing technologies and inflexible infrastructure hinder more agile working, causing delays and frustration. Culturally, flexible working that features too little face-to-face interaction with colleagues can leave employees feeling disconnected.

CEOs recognise these challenges and are aware that changing communication and collaboration technology is one way to transform the digital employee experience. Simple and convenient collaboration solutions are making virtual meetings feel as natural as face-to-face ones, giving the same experience regardless of their location or device.

A must read

For those responsible for digital transformation in the business (such as CIOs and CDOs), there is a clear need to deliver a more digital experience for employees. Our recent paper, People first: A guide to digital transformation in the workspace, shares our take on the new employee needs that have risen out of today’s digital world, and explores how to create a great digital experience for workforce and employer alike.

It also explores our three-stage approach, highlighting the questions you need to consider when preparing to implement change in the workspace, and providing an advisory ‘to do list’ when looking to progress further.   


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