Editor's note: The following is a guest article from Yassine Zaied, chief strategy officer of Nexthink.
If employees are partaking in a "Great Resignation," senior leadership across industries should be undergoing a "Great Introspection."
Half of America's working population are actively searching for a new job or looking for new opportunities — there are currently more job seekers than there are openings in the U.S. If companies want to retain their top talent, it is critical they reevaluate the processes, systems, policies and perks in place to stymie the exodus of workers and ensure they are meeting the demands of today's workforce.
The pandemic changed many things about how and where we work, but, at its core, the issues and challenges leading to the Great Resignation are not new. Burnout, work-life balance, lack of support and communication are all pre-pandemic issues that were accelerated and intensified by poor employee experience when the lockdown began.
For the better half of the past two decades, employee experience was tied to providing beer on tap in the break room, nap pods and other "Silicon Valley" office perks. The shift to working from home stripped the need and desire for flashy perks that distracted from fixing the real problems employees experienced with how they actually do work and feel productive.
With those distractions gone, and employees working on kitchen counters, bedroom floors, couches and makeshift offices, it became abundantly clear that both HR and IT departments were unprepared for managing a fully digital employee experience. Overnight one office of 5,000 employees became 5,000 remote offices.
For much of the past two years, employees' connections to their colleagues was through a standard-issue laptop. Tech failures and IT headaches played a role in increased frustration from employees, lower productivity and less engagement.
As companies deal with the "brain drain" as employees quit en masse — according to PwC research nearly nine in ten (88%) executives say their company is experiencing higher turnover than normal — they must act swiftly to improve the digital experience to ensure current and future employees feel supported and productive.
Know your employees
For too long, companies looked to standardize rather than personalize. Whether it is standard working hours, standard-issue hardware or one-size-fits-all software programs, it is the path of least resistance to have all employees operating on the same system.
We are at a major transition moment where companies must be more flexible to the individual needs of employees rather than taking the easy route of standardization.
Flexibility starts by actually understanding your employees' needs both on a personal and professional level. Younger workers may need different systems than older employees because they have different experiences and relationships with technology.
The marketing department may need Macbooks while the accounting team prefers working on a PC. Parents may need the flexibility to start and end the workday earlier for school pick up.
Understanding and knowing the personal needs of each employee and acting upon those needs elevates their employee experience, empowers them to do better work, and results in a more productive and engaged workforce.
When it comes to employee experience, too often updates and changes are reactive to issues that have already bubbled to the surface (i.e. The Great Resignation). There is no perfect employee experience, it must constantly evolve and adapt to employees in real-time, anticipating their needs and struggles before it reaches a boiling point.
Successful businesses proactively anticipate how to adjust their business strategy to remain competitive and must do the same with the employee experience. This could include examining seasonal changes that will impact employees.
For example, with the holiday season coming up, workers will be traveling to visit loved ones. Do they have the Wi-Fi connectivity to remain productive wherever they are working from?
Anticipating this change in employee needs allows workers to feel both seen and supported, as well as capable of balancing their life and work needs during a busy time of the year.
Work closely with HR to keep employees engaged
It is overwhelming to completely unlearn our preconceived notions of what an excellent employee experience looks like. To take the employee experience digital, we need a partnership between IT and HR to ensure the technical and human support of employees.
Some policies and perks an IT/HR task force could implement include: setting a time limit on the number of video calls each employee can be on a day to eliminate Zoom fatigue.
Or a re-onboarding or regular program/system training so that employees remain fresh on the tech their colleagues are using and apprised of changes. Even workstation support to ensure the home office an employee creates is as productive as their corporate office.
With talent-related issues one of the top three of both external and internal challenges reported by CIOs, making IT part of a partnership with HR is the first step to halting the Great Resignation.
A virtual/hybrid workforce is not about bits and bytes and standard solutions. It must focus on taking care of people and engaging with employees. It is the only way businesses will thrive and attract talent in today's business environment.