Business leaders know that the workplace is changing. Gone are the days of the strict 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. cubicle life where it was common for workers to stop checking email at 5:01 p.m. and the idea of a conference call after dinner was considered preposterous.
The workplace as a destination has disappeared, and the reality is that for the majority of us, work never completely shuts off. With this change, employees have adapted their lifestyles and are making do with the new demands that come with an always-on workplace.
But is “making do” enough? Or should employers strive to create new guidelines and processes that respond to the workers of 2017 and beyond?
While many organizations are starting to come around to what the modern workplace looks like, determining how to address it and what processes should be put in place isn’t easy.
Enabling today’s productive employee is not only a human resources issue. Connecting HR and IT as business partners is the core component to constructing and implementing the necessary changes to enable today’s workforce most effectively. It’s an ongoing relationship between HR, IT and leaders at all levels to address how to conform to today’s flexible work styles, because it’s one that employees prefer and enjoy and ultimately delivers greater productivity and costs savings. Those who don’t act fast will fall behind and miss out on the various employer benefits that come with embracing a modern workforce.
- Lower costs
Organizations are always looking to trim costs, be it keeping IT budgets lean, learning how to maximize results without hiring new employees or implementing efficient trainings to keep employees informed on the latest in the industry. What some may not realize is that connecting HR with other departments of the organization, namely IT, can help bring down other unexpected costs as well. In fact, by tailoring devices to workforce needs and habits, Forrester Consulting reported that 26 percent of organizations have seen lower costs/improved efficiency and 31 percent report increased revenue growth.
When employees are more likely to stay at a company due to flexible policies and tools that make their jobs easier, this often equates to lower turnover and the ability for employers to dedicate fewer resources to job recruitment and the new hire onboarding process. Departments such as HR have a growing role as a functional buyer to recognize the long-term impact that investing in these new tools will have on the business. What’s normally thought of as a job for IT — leveraging these other areas that often have more interaction with the day-to-day employee — can ultimately bring about greater results and savings for the employer down the road. And in doing so, responding to employees’ needs and maintaining the existing workforce is a more budget-friendly and less time-consuming option versus the hunt to constantly replace employees as they exit.
- Greater Productivity
Productivity is the result of empowering your employees. To do so, organizations need to recognize that workers require different needs based on their work scenarios. Be it a mobile, desk-centric, in the field or on-the-go worker, organizations are grappling with how to adjust and cater to these evolving work styles. While it does bring a whole host of new challenges and the need to drive a fresh process within a company, the results of understanding and catering to each type are paramount.
There’s no denying that linking these departments within an organization to discuss how to implement new technologies based on specific work styles — such as flexible work arrangements and hiring remote employees — has driven a significant rise in productivity across companies. Productivity stems from employees being able to access and use the tech needed to do their best work within the style that fits them. That’s why business and IT decision-makers are now considering how the technologies will affect the employees’ perception of their workload.
Even things that might seem small — allocating the appropriate huddle rooms equipped with video conferencing technology or interactive white boards — make all the difference to enable employee productivity. Avoiding employee turnover, which significantly reduces total workforce productivity financial performance, is top of mind for business leaders. Keeping a constant link between HR, IT, leadership and product teams to maintain a pulse on the effectiveness of prioritizing workers and emphasizing flexibility is crucial to productivity across the board.
- Increased Employee Morale, Happiness
Roughly 41 percent of employees feel their technology-related requests/requirements aren’t a priority for IT, according to Forrester, and 36 percent of employees feel IT doesn’t understand their needs well enough to provide the devices they need to be productive. That’s an alarming number considering the impact technology has on employee happiness, job choice, retention and beyond. Beyond tech, flexible policies on remote work, work hours and location go a long way to drive balance in life. Millennials are the driving force behind this change, as 36 percent of the generation says remote work allows for healthier work-life balance, according to a Dell and Intel “Future-Ready Workforce” study.
Connecting various departments of the business on an ongoing basis is critical to understanding employees’ opinions on these matters and how they can work together to improve them. That’s because it’s no surprise happier workers lead to higher customer satisfaction and profits; thus, the benefit of supporting employee morale is twofold. Once leaders have happy and productive employees, they’re able to generate greater retention and overall increased productivity and profits for the business.
The collaboration between HR and IT is able to equip employees with the tools and technology they need to work flexibly, and in doing so, improve productivity. It’s unknown how the workplace will continue to evolve in the years to come and what changes will have to be made then and 10 years down the road. But either way, creating internal conversations that eliminate silos between departments will prove successful to finding that balance between strong results, the modern workplace and the happy employee.
Cheryl Prahl is the senior vice president, human resources at Dell Inc. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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