As the priorities of IT are driven by the needs to support business goals, one of the increasingly important needs IT leaders must to pay attention to is attracting and retaining high-quality employees.
“IT now matters more than ever in the recruitment, retention, employee engagement and high performance of all enterprise employees, not just IT.” said Tina Nunno, Gartner vice president and fellow the opening keynote for the firms IT Symposium/Xpo 2022.
A new Gartner survey found that only 31 per cent of employees said that they have the technology they need, so there is an opportunity there for CIO’s to make a difference. “Employers who revolutionise the work and empower their workers with technology will become the employers of choice,” Nunno said.
Employee prospects can become disenchanted with potential employers from their earliest interactions with them, she said.
“We surveyed job seekers, and one of their top three pain points included annoying or cumbersome job-application technologies or portals,” Nunno said. “Many of these annoyed individuals abandon the application process, turned down a job offer or wrote a bad review about the company.”
Gartner said it has identified what it called three force multipliers for IT leaders to focus on to create sustainable performance for the enterprise, starting with taking the friction out of work.
Make jobs easier to do
Gartner defined friction as any work that is unnecessarily hard.
“Friction is like sand in the gears of your bike: instead of being a positive multiplier, it's a negative one that erodes your performance. It makes every hill seem bigger, seemingly small things that have incredibly large impacts,” Nunno said. “We all have worked with friction, and we always have, so why deal with it now? Because burned out employees are completely out of patience.”
The reality is that the more friction points employees face, the worse employee performance and retention is, with up to a 35 per cent drop in employee intent to stay, so now is the time to identify the friction points ruthlessly eliminate them, Nunno said.
"By removing friction and investing in digital skills, organisations can create a more engaged workforce that is better equipped to sustain future performance," she said.
Gartner also recommends eliminating work that is “dirty, dangerous, or dull.” When CIOs automate low-value, demoralising work, they can reinvest employees’ time and effort into valuable training for functional, digital, and business skills, with an emphasis on developing technology-related competencies, Nunno said. Doing so creates a more engaged workforce to sustain future performance.
Organisations should also invest in low-code/no-code technologies that help eliminate manual processes, she said. Gartner predicts that, by 2025, 70 per cent of new applications will be developed using these technologies.
Invest aggressively in AI augmentation
Employees need tools and technologies that empower them, Nunno said: “We all want our work to have a meaningful impact and AI augmentation is a force multiplier because it can increase the impact of your employees by extending their reach, range and capabilities. The workforce of the future is AI-enabled.”
The idea is that if organisations want to create sustainable performance, leadership needs to rethink its relationship with productivity.
“Stop focusing on productivity and start focusing on impact,” Nunno said. “Pushing more productivity out of a fragile talent pipeline is not going to work. What employees need are tools and technologies that empower them and increase the impact of their work, and that is AI augmentation.”
Be bold in technology choices
Technology is the new epicentre of corporate culture, and organisations that experiment openly with technologies that are still considered early in the Gartner Hype Cycle—the company’s depiction of technologies move from conception to widespread adoption—will attract talent candidates.
“Here’s why,” Nunno said. “First, because barriers to innovation create friction. Second, organisations that innovate during tough times, stay ahead of the pack; and enterprises who innovate publicly attract the best new pack members. Now is the time to find room in your budgets to be bold.”
The way organisations are handling the hybrid-work environment is a good example of how things are changing. Nunno said many CIOs have told Gartner that their world was easier when employees were all in the office or all out of the office.
“Many executives are concerned that hybrid work is damaging corporate culture, so they're trying to turn back the clock by mandating employee time in physical offices,” Nunno said.
"Unfortunately, this is not working. It is now a myth that corporate culture only happens in corporate offices. Your enterprise culture now happens in an endless number of digital spaces and experiences. It empowers your culture to be configured in an endless number of ways. This is the rule now not the exception.”