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Guide to essential hybrid technology

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It’s been said that to win the marketplace, you must first win the workplace. That’s because if you don’t understand your people, then you don’t understand your business. I’m not simply referring to HR here, but rather systemic, everyday things that are invisibly eroding the business right in front of you. One of the most common culprits for employees is their workplace technology – even more so now that most businesses are opting for hybrid working. The policy of letting people work from home may have changed, but the technology hasn’t, triggering stress, negativity and resignations.

Employers just aren’t listening when it comes to new hybrid workplace technology requirements, particularly when it comes to ease of use. Employees want the same ease and usability as the technology they use daily in their personal lives.

New global research “The State of Workplace Technology”*, found that more than half (52%) of line of business managers believe their employers are failing to listen and respond to new technology demands for employees. The study, which involved almost 9,000 employees globally, revealed that 42% of employees say their employer doesn’t understand their technology expectations in the new hybrid world. 

It’s an expensive oversight – and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Now is not the moment for employers to be tone-deaf or put their heads in the sand when it comes to what employees want and expect. At a time when almost half (44%) of employees globally are already considering changing jobs, easy-to-use technology makes a surprisingly positive impact on employee satisfaction. Yet a whopping 91% of employees are experiencing frustration due to inadequate workplace technology. 

Worse still, 48% say the tech they use for work negatively impacts their mental health and 49% cite it as triggering stress. And more than half (57%) of unsatisfied employees say their current software makes them less productive. Little wonder they’re considering leaving.

Why Aren’t Employers Listening?
So why is this and why aren’t companies listening? To be fair, we’re all in unchartered territory and learning as we go. Hybrid working en masse is new for just about everyone. It’s not like there’s a myriad of proven post-pandemic management strategies or case studies out there. 

One obvious explanation is money. Companies have spent a lot of it recently so it’s easy for organizations to simply dismiss the workplace technology issue as being in their rear-view mirror. Most companies have already approved significant additional investment in technology so there’s a tendency to think it’s been resolved. During the pandemic, businesses spent the equivalent of $15 billion extra a week on technology to enable remote working, according to KPMG. The global shift to hybrid working ignited the biggest surge in technology investment history. It’s been great for technology vendors, but pretty hit-and-miss for employees. 

In short, investment doesn’t necessarily equate to resolution. The report found that 61% of business leaders still predict their technology won’t be fit for purpose and able to meet the demands of the business in 12 months. 

These statistics are all big red flags for businesses that their human capital is at risk. Ease of use is so much more than a productivity metric. It’s become a powerful retention strategy. It’s also an easy fix. With expectations around ease of use increasing, 44% of employees say their company could dissuade them from finding new job if they invested in more automation. 

But how can organizations have spent more money than ever and still be getting it wrong? Over time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of platform inertia. Companies buy more of what they’ve got and what they know. This usually takes the form of adding more functionality to necessary systems that employees already find frustrating in the first place, compounding the problem. CRM software is a perfect example.

Twenty years ago, the cloud promised that business software would be easier, faster and cheaper than its on-premise predecessors. Indeed, it is cheaper, but not necessarily faster and in many cases it’s definitely not easier. Over the years, the majority of the mainstream CRM cloud software tools today have become bloated, expensive, siloed, slow, and, quite frankly, a struggle. 

In contrast, the newer CRM cloud providers spotted this issue long before the rest of us. They’ve addressed this problem with modern, purpose-built solutions that empower the employees who use them with intuitive, rapid to onboard software that’s as easy to use as the apps on our phones. In other words, the type of software employees want to use rather than have to use.

Leaders need to look at their workplace technology requirements with fresh eyes. Buying more of the same software that’s already undermining employee morale, hindering productivity and triggering attrition isn’t the answer, no matter how much money you spend. Employees will tell you what they want if you ask them – but employers need to listen. 

*Freshworks,“State of Workplace Technology” report here.   

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