Getting businesses ready for the future of work

By Justin Anderson

The modern workforce is changing its game, compelling businesses to evolve in a way that fully caters to a new generation of talent. Poised to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, 'Generation Y' and 'Millennials' are becoming more technologically savvy than ever. And not only does this largest segment of employees look for advanced working environments, but they have also grown up with a fresh outlook on working practices and expectations. As such, any business looking to futureproof must ask whether it is doing enough to attract and retain the best candidates. After all, a company is only as good as its people.

A new way of working  

A tug-of-war has already started in the talent pool, with firms determined to hook the golden few that have desirable skills. It’s a familiar story and one that presents a significant problem for enterprises - 90 percent of C-level executives recently told Appirio that recruiting these crucial hires is a top business challenge. Given that it’s not sustainable for organizations to partake in a financial or incentive-based bidding war to secure talent, how can they ensure that they attract and retain employees?

The modern generation knows what it wants, and if that isn’t provided by their employer they are not afraid of moving on. This has led to the more fluid movement of candidates switching organizations, which puts a major strain on the enterprise, meaning tangible losses at the expense of productivity and innovation. One segment where this is particularly pertinent is the IT department with approximately 25 percent of leavers each year. Understandably this upheaval has a significant effect on the wider business through projects being delayed or abandoned altogether.

The answer lies in fully understanding the principle main drivers of the modern workforce. This will ensure that team disruption is minimalised, and firms can concentrate on delivering the best possible customer experience.

Millennial priorities

It’s clear that today’s employees have radically different expectations about the nature of work. So how can business leaders build the foundations that will ensure complete job satisfaction? The priority should be to cater to the needs of today’s workforce:

First at the infrastructure and kit in place. Is it enough to allow people to do their job well, now and in the future? The new generation of workers has grown up in a digital society and use technology in all aspects of their lives, so the rapid adoption of current and forward-thinking technologies and strategies should be a priority.

Today, there's even greater emphasis on new channels for communication and collaboration, which are more social in nature. Tools such as Salesforce Chatter, Google Docs and Google Hangouts are enabling greater collaboration between workers across the globe, and open up a much more efficient way of communicating that removes lengthy admin tasks and unnecessary email chains.

Also consider whether the firm offers and promotes a good work / life balance. Are employees actively encouraged to work from home for example, allowing them to do great work, but in a way that fits their lifestyle? Perhaps travel is disrupted, or a sales manager need to work from a customer’s site, or maybe there is an opportunity for employees to work during downtime between appointments. This level of trust and flexibility will drive productivity, by enabling staff to work whenever and wherever there is a job to be done.

Finally, is there any requirement for further digital training? Helping upskill members of staff should help build a sense of loyalty as the firm is investing in the individual’s growth.

Worker experience shapes customer experience

The evolution of digital has also reshaped the relationship businesses have with customers. Due to ever-higher customer expectations, most companies have switched to a customer-centric model that puts total focus on hassle-free, multi-touchpoint, personalized and meaningful interactions.

As unhappy workers equal unhappy customers, the working environment that a company creates will have a direct correlation with business success and growth. Ensuring exceptional worker experience that will empower employees to create an exceptional customer experience is key. In turn this continues to turn the wheels of a virtuous cycle.

A company successfully adopting this approach is Netflix, which combined solid customer service with growth by remaining focused on the worker experience. The company gives its employees a great amount of freedom to innovate, and provides amazing incentives with the understanding that employees are expected to work hard and provide a great service to customers.

Introducing a virtuous cycle approach helps improve employee loyalty and productivity which will lead to company growth and customer satisfaction.

The most important value a business should follow if it is to have long-term success, is to put employees first. To capture the trust of the modern workforce, this is a vital piece of advice that rings true regardless of industry.

The largest segment of the modern workforce has uncovered a new set of employment priorities and expectations. So, to thrive into the future, it’s clear that businesses must start making dramatic changes to their workforce strategies in order to attract, retain and engage both employees and customers.

Justin Anderson is VP of Sales, CRM and HCM at Appirio


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