If companies want to keep their employees engaged and encourage them to stick around for the foreseeable future, they need to invest in modern technology — it’s as simple as that.
If you’re relying on old infrastructure — like on-premises email systems and legacy applications — you can be certain that at least some of your employees are looking for a job somewhere else. That’s because, in 2017, many of your workers are very familiar with the newer alternatives that exist.
For example, a majority of your workers likely have cloud-based personal email accounts and use their own smartphones to access their personal inboxes throughout the day. Knowing how easy it is to check their own email from any location, your workers are likely to be annoyed if they are only able to access their work inboxes when they are in the office. Multiply a minor inconvenience like this over a number of mission-critical activities, and you begin to see how discouraging work can become.
When you invest in modern technology, on the other hand, employees become motivated. Their jobs become easier and therefore less stressful. They also learn new skills and new platforms. As a result, they notice that their employers care about their health, work-life balance, and career development.
This is all not to say you can throw dollars at any piece of technology and expect it will pay dividends. If you run a small B2B software company, for example, you probably shouldn’t buy your entire team new VR headsets. But there are many strategic technology investments you should make that will improve employee engagement and return dividends in the future.
An employee’s laptop is the most important tool in their arsenal. Quite simply, the device enables workers to essentially take their office with them wherever they go.
While the needs and budgets of every company are different, generally speaking, it’s recommended that organizations replace their laptops every three years. Undoubtedly, there are companies that could get away with replacing them less frequently. But if you want your employees to have access to the fastest processors and the most innovative features on the market, you’ll need to replace your fleet of laptops regularly.
You may be tempted to see how far you can stretch each laptop. That’s understandable. But when you give a new employee a used laptop — especially one that has someone else’s palm stains baked into it — you can’t reasonably expect that person to be thrilled to get to work. Give a new hire a brand-new laptop and they will be much more enthusiastic about their job — and therefore more engaged.
According to a recent study by IDC, there will be 105.4 million mobile workers in the United States by 2020, accounting for 72.3% of the entire US workforce. These workers are often on the go. Some head to the airport to fly across the country to attend a conference. Others take the subway across the city to meet up with a client. Still others drive around from office to office trying to close deals.
While laptops are certainly “mobile” by design, employees in certain roles could be much more effective if their employers equipped them with company-issued smartphones. For example, someone in sales needs to be able to make and receive calls easily. Despite this, a recent study from Gartner revealed only 23% of workers were issued smartphones by their employers.
If you don’t have room in your budget to outfit your workers with their own mobile device, you should at least think about creating a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. According to a recent article published on ZDNet, 74% of organizations have either adopted their own BYOD policies or are in the process of doing so. With a BYOD policy in place, your employees can utilize the operating systems they already know to make their jobs easier. Anything that makes tasks easier to complete will increase engagement.
Technology can also make it incredibly easy to communicate with coworkers and move projects forward — even if employees aren’t working together in the same room or aren’t both available at the same time. Instead of having to stay in touch via email or phone, employees can use collaboration platforms — like Trello, Slack, Teamwork, Asana, and Yammer — to shoot each other quick messages, send and receive documents, and track progress. This functionality enables teams to make progress both in real time and non-real time.
In addition to making their jobs easier, utilizing collaboration platforms helps your employees develop new skills that they’ll need in the future. According to MarketsandMarkets, the collaboration market will grow to $49.51 billion by 2021 — which means these platforms not only play a critical role in today’s jobs, but will perhaps have an even more important role in the jobs of tomorrow. The sooner you expose your employees to these technologies, the faster they will develop new skills and grow in their careers.
Thanks to the cloud, it’s easier than ever for workers to access the documents, contacts, and resources they need to do their jobs — from anywhere they happen to be. Instead of having to wait to return to the office to tackle their work, employees have access to everything they need wherever they go. In the event that a blizzard makes it impossible for them to get to the office, employees will still be able to get their work done when you leverage cloud resources. As mentioned above, anything that makes the job easier increases engagement.
If your organization has yet to migrate its computing infrastructure to the cloud, what are you waiting for? In addition to increased productivity and accessibility of information, cloud computing also helps companies save money. What’s not to like?
Technology can also drive engagement by helping build a better work culture. For example, you can utilize pulse surveys to assess the state of your organization at any given point in time. If a majority of your employees tell you that they are unhappy with a new initiative that you recently launched, you can address the issue immediately instead of letting the problem spiral out of control and only finding out about it after it’s too late.
Engagement platforms can also be used as an employee recognition mechanism. Bosses and coworkers alike can use the technology to send their employees and colleagues quick tokens of appreciation. It might be a small gesture — but it’s one that goes a long way toward making employees feel valued.
By investing in technology, not only do you help build a more efficient and, therefore, more effective company, you prove to your employees that you care about their well-being. That’s money well spent.