Making work better: How new technologies can support your workforce

11/16/2022

Debra Timmerman

Vice President - MSP, RPO and Ayers Group

The digital revolution is all around us. As consumers, we readily accept its impact on our lives – just think about how differently we shop and consume entertainment compared to just a few years ago – and of course it’s also transforming our professional lives. Yet I see many organizations failing to capitalize on the potential of technology to support greater workforce agility.

Based on a survey of 1,000 senior executives across 12 countries, KellyOCG’s 2022 Re:work report found that adoption of the technologies that empower the workforce is one of the four dynamics that sets apart the Vanguards – the small group of leading firms that are most likely to report increased revenue and profit over the last 12 months.

Vanguard firms are more likely than their peers to have a clear strategy for using emerging technologies and data analytics to manage and develop their workforces.

Here are the four areas where the Vanguards are using technology to gain a critical edge in improving their workforce agility.

1. Understand employee expectations for the employment experience

Is the Great Resignation over? It’s the question we’re all asking. Opinions differ – but even if overall jobs turnover slows, I’m certain about one thing. Intense competition for talent is here to stay, especially for the key skillsets needed to drive growth. That means reinventing the employee experience should be one of HR’s biggest priorities (as it is for 83% of Vanguard firms) – and businesses have to do a better job of listening to what their people want.

Technology has a key role to play. You can start by identifying actionable insights on employees’ priorities in real time. It is easier than ever to run regular pulse surveys and implement real-time monitoring of key metrics such as workload, engagement and employee sentiment. Vanguard firms are more than 1.5x as likely to take advantage of tech in this way (32% have adopted such tools, compared with 20% of the rest).

Real-time data is particularly valuable to support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategies, giving leaders fast feedback on their progress – and early warning if particular employee groups feel disengaged.

2. Give employees the tools to succeed in a hybrid environment

As many organizations have seen first-hand, the explosion in hybrid working – and its constant evolution – has been one of the most fascinating stories of the pandemic. Hybrid working models continue to shape the employee experience. You may have been following the twists and turns at Apple, for example, where the company recently sought to switch from ‘come in when you want’ to ‘three days a week required in the office’ – and met strong resistance from some employees as a result.

That is fairly indicative of the mixed views about hybrid working revealed by our research. 65% of executives told us that hybrid working has improved the employee experience, yet about one-quarter (28%) anticipate that their organization will eventually mandate a return to the office for most employees.

However, organizations use hybrid working, they need to be smart in how they use technology to maximize productivity across on-site and remote workers. Vanguard organizations are far more likely to have adopted the technologies and platforms needed, such as knowledge-sharing tools (46% of Vanguards vs 34% of the rest).

3. Get to grips with the organization’s talent mix – now and for the future

I often talk to companies that don’t have a great picture of the talent mix within their organizations. Clarity is essential for making decisions about recruitment strategies and how best to blend permanent and contingent personnel – and to achieve that, technology is key. Yet only about one-third of the firms surveyed (32%, rising to 42% among the Vanguards) said they had adopted a platform that supplies a clear view of the mix of permanent and contingent talent across the business.

Many businesses are making good progress in this space. As Kirsten Tolfree-Dart, Contingent Worker Program Manager at Kantar told us, “We are on a journey to unlock the value from our workforce data.” Once the foundations of reporting and basic analytics tools are in place, the next step is to develop predictive analytics that help show the business’s future needs.

Whether developed in-house or sourced as a service through specialist partners, these tools have the potential to be game-changing for HR.

4. Reinvent training and development programs

Employers that offer great training and development have a real edge in the battle to attract and retain talent. In our research, a lack of career progression opportunities was identified as the number one reason employees leave their jobs.

But the solution isn’t simply more courses. The best development programs are both bespoke and flexible, using technology so that employees can learn at their own pace. Vanguard firms know this: almost half (47%) have implemented dedicated platforms that allow employees to curate their own training programs (vs 32% of the rest).

Such platforms work best when there’s a culture that rewards a ‘growth mindset’ and encourages people to take responsibility for their development. Again, Vanguards are more likely to say that employees are actively involved in shaping their own roles and career paths (83% vs 63%).

I would love to know more about how you see the role of technology in supporting workforce agility and delivering next-level employee experiences. Do get in touch to share your thoughts, or for a chat about how we might support you in getting the most from your technology.

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