For a long time, the priorities of IT and security teams were to ensure the organization was protected, compliant and secure. In more recent years the focus has instead evolved to enablement – how technical leaders can influence the health of the overall company. That has meant increased engagement with executives, a better understanding of business metrics and a closer relationship with human resources.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the connection between HR and IT has grown even stronger. Technology in the modern working environment has become absolutely crucial in creating a high-quality employee experience, especially in white-collar sectors such as legal and finance. Organizations that can foster flexible, productive working conditions have a competitive edge over those that cannot.
In May 2021, NetMotion hosted a series of online conversations with over 100 leaders from financial services and law firms. The topic of discussion was the role of IT in improving the employee experience and, in turn, ensuring a high level of employee well-being and staff retention. When asked to share whether talent churn was an important issue, responses revealed that those in the financial sector have experienced more unwanted turnover than at law firms.
A surprisingly high 69% of financial services firms have lost good employees in the first few months of 2021, compared with 37% of companies in the legal sector. Roughly another quarter of organizations in both industries have concerns that it will happen in the future, even if it hasn’t occurred, yet. There are few organizations that remain unconcerned about the risk.
The real cost of losing employees
Losing the best attorneys, accountants and other personnel to rival firms can be extremely costly. The cost of identifying, hiring and onboarding replacements is not only expensive, it is also disruptive to ongoing business operations. With this in mind, perhaps the next question for IT leaders to ask is: what are the best ways to keep these potential leavers from considering employment elsewhere?
The response from the group was overwhelming. Investment in perks, better quality devices and even big salary bumps would be of limited benefit when compared with the thing that employees truly crave. Flexibility has emerged as top of the list in terms of job satisfaction, meaning the pressure to deliver an agile workplace has never been greater.
The biggest ‘perk’ is flexibility
Flexibility can be many things. It can mean liberal working hours, granting parents the chance to work around child-rearing obligations or adjusting the 9-5 to meet changing expectations among millennials. It can also mean diversity in the place of work. As many firms contemplate life after lockdown, it’s clear that the future working environment will be some form of hybrid, blending the opportunity to work from home alongside the benefits that come from the traditional office. Agency and choice will be a key differentiator between employers in 2021 and beyond. Firms that can provide flexibility will undoubtedly attract the best talent, marking a shift from an era where salary, office location and other perks shaped the competition for the most sought-after employees.
IT is rarely the department making these decisions, however. It’s important to consider that flexibility is more than just the policies that come from HR. Flexibility also applies to working styles, collaboration and technology – areas that IT must take accountability for. That means creating a world-class experience for end users no matter when or where they work.
Creating the best-possible remote working experience
The variety of potential issues facing workers is vast. If a fee earner is attempting to get their work done at a coffee shop, on a train or even in their back garden, then the experience should be as consistently seamless as possible. Flexibility demands that IT provide the tools and processes that enable employees to remain productive no matter where they are. Cloud-delivered applications, versatile device options and frictionless security are all crucial components in establishing a high quality remote working experience.
Investing in technologies such as modern video conferencing, file sharing and CRM, etc., is therefore becoming a priority for almost every CIO – the rapid adoption of Microsoft365 in the past 12 months is an obvious signal. It is also a large reason behind the increased interest in SASE and other edge-delivered security solutions, helping reduce cumbersome security requirements and enhance the experience for distributed workforces. For those interested in how NetMotion can support their organization, find examples about how we have helped firms in the legal and financial sectors, or speak with a dedicated expert today.