The Stack Archive

Why your legacy IT may be costing you the best millennial talent

Wed 7 Dec 2016

keith-tilley-sungard-availabilityKeith Tilley, EVP at Sungard Availability Services, advises us not to discount how strongly our best young workers may feel about access to the latest digital technologies and platforms…

Millennials get a lot of bad press: they’re often condemned for frivolous spending habits and being glued to their smartphones. On the plus side, they are extremely digitally savvy and, as a result, expect the best technology in both their personal and professional lives. Over the coming decades the younger generation will make up the majority of the workforce, and their demands for the best workplace tools simply can’t be ignored.

Young employees are head-hunted on a daily basis, and are not afraid to explore their options if they aren’t happy in their current employment. Sixty per cent of millennials said they think six years or less is the right amount of time to spend at a single job – a stark difference from the decade plus of service that the older generation felt to be best.

Organisations are faced with an ambitious but increasingly restless young workforce: keeping the best talent has always been a challenge, and for many organisations it’s only getting harder.

Tech is the secret weapon in the battle for talent

How much emphasis an organisation places on ‘innovation’ is increasingly becoming a pull factor in attracting talent. Yet our research found that nearly 39 per cent of employees don’t feel their employer is moving fast enough when it comes to getting digital tech in place. When a business fails to keep up with the competition, it risks losing its staff to organisations that are making waves.

Whilst shocking, it’s therefore unsurprising that over a fifth of employees admitted that they had left a job because they didn’t feel they had access to the latest digital technology. This clearly demonstrates the devastating effect on a business when the needs of its employees are not met.

Given that 76 per cent of employees feel that having the right digital tools is crucial to their work, it’s easy to see how frustrations can mount. The tech skills gap is ever looming, and businesses simply cannot afford to lose any talented employees.

Look for the employees in the organisation who adopt technology early: they can help encourage wider uptake and influence others towards the cause

The simple answer is that organisations need to invest in digital tools. However, in established enterprise organisations, existing legacy IT can cause problems when integrating new technology. New applications may not be compatible with current systems, leaving organisations with no choice but to overhaul their IT systems. Many simply do not have the resources or time to ‘rip and replace’, leaving the long-term gains of growing a digital business on hold.

What employees want

Digital tools more than prove their worth when used effectively. Over half of IT decision makers feel that digital tools allow the business to improve its customer service and satisfaction offering, and 43 per cent felt it contributed to revenue growth. But, to muddy the waters, while most of the workforce recognises the importance of digital technologies, nearly a third admitted that it has made their job more stressful, and 30 per cent claimed it made their role more difficult.

This poses an issue for IT departments when securing digital investment: if employees push back, it becomes much harder to make a business case to those with the budgets to invest in the tech.

In trying to ensure the buy-in from the wider workforce, organisations need to do more than just throw money at the problem. 34 per cent of employees felt they weren’t receiving enough training on digital tools, whilst a further 23 per cent said the training they had was inadequate. Businesses must therefore harbour the right environment and culture, as well as offer regular education for employees to help them get the most out of the available tools.

A change in company culture

Beyond this, developing an agile and receptive company culture is also a good way of encouraging better returns on the investment of digital tools. Look for the employees in the organisation who adopt technology early: they can help encourage wider uptake and influence others towards the cause.

Once you develop this culture of openness to new technology, future digital investments should be easier to incorporate; increasing adoption rates and impacting the business sooner rather than later.

Digital transformation clearly isn’t a straight path to success. It requires continuous investment, which can feel both time and cost-consuming – especially when the business is already doing well.

But to keep talent and remain competitive, businesses need to exceed expectations and be innovative. If you don’t do it, your competitors will; and they’ll likely poach your employees in the process.

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