When HR met IT: why technology is an important weapon in the war for talent

In the war for talent, the marcomms sector is on the frontlines, with regular poaching of staff and a strong desire for those attracted to the industry to take on 'new challenges'. So how do you attract and retain staff in this digital age? While employees are motivated by perks and pay, new research from Deloitte and Google has found that  workplace IT is becoming an increasingly important factor. 

Flexible IT policies, such as allowing staff to bring their own devices to work, to work from home, and to use social media, are key to employee satisfaction, with the research showing that people who are happy with their workplace IT are one-third less likely to leave their company than those who are unhappy (Yahoo's Marissa Meyer obviously didn't get the memo). 

Commissioned by Google Australia, The Connected Workplace — War for talent in the digital economy, showed that investing in flexible IT policies could save large companies up to $350,000, and small businesses $22,000, on hiring costs each year. For an average large-sized business, this adds up to a saving of around $2.6m over ten years. 

“Our research shows a direct relationship for the first time between flexible IT policies and employee satisfaction and retention,” says Ric Simes, partner at Deloitte Access Economics. “Many people report that their home IT is better than that at work. They tend to rate their home technology as more user-friendly, up-to-date and faster. This trend has raised employee expectations of their workplace IT, especially among Gen Y and Gen Z workers.”

Many Australian and New Zealand businesses are recognising this trend and moving their workplace IT to the cloud for increased collaboration. Fairfax Media switched to cloud-based tools from Google in July 2012 (although employees are leaving for reasons other than IT at the moment) and Woolworths announced that it will move its staff to Google Apps for Business in April this year. Woolworths recently set up a ‘bring-your-own-device (BYOD)’ policy so employees could have the flexibility they wanted, while also ensuring security. Similarly Air New Zealand now enables its employees to access information when and where they want from their own secured devices. 

Businesses with employees that were most satisfied with their IT policies had a few characteristics in common:

      They allowed people to bring their own devices to work.

      They permitted access to social media while at work.

      They let them work from home.

      They encouraged them to use collaborative technology.

Satisfied employees reported having higher levels of collaboration, collaborating 28 percent of the working week compared to only 12 percent for non-satisfied employees.

“These report findings highlight a broader trend which we’ve been seeing for some time now, which is that people want to work the way they live," says Claire Hatton, industry director at Google Australia. "Australian businesses like Woolworths and Fairfax have recognised this and their staff now work more collaboratively and flexibly with cloud-based tools. As the report highlights, making it easy for people to connect, share and work together not only makes employees happier, it makes good business sense too.” 

The Connected Workplace report comes at a time when Australian and New Zealand business leaders are experiencing a shortage of skilled employees. In Australia, for every 100 people retiring over the next five years, there are less than 125 people exiting education, the lowest ratio in Australia’s history.​

Key findings of the “The Connected Workplace” report:

  • 83 percent of employees with access to flexible IT policies said they’re satisfied at work while only 62 percent of employees that do not have access to flexible IT said they felt satisfied at work.
  • Large companies with 500 employees could save up to $350,000 and small businesses could save $22,000 a year on hiring costs by investing in flexible IT policies.
  • Over a ten year period an average large sized business with flexible IT policies could save around $2.6m.
  • Superior experiences with technology at home is driving this change and contributing to employee frustrations at work. A significant number of employees surveyed rate their home technology as more user friendly (46 percent), faster (38 percent) and more up-to-date (38 percent) than what they have at work.
  • Satisfied employees reported having higher levels of collaboration, collaborating 28 percent of the working week with colleagues in the same office, country or internationally, compared to only 12 percent among non-satisfied employees.
  • Employees with access to flexible IT policies offset time spent using the internet for personal things at work (1:12 hrs) by using the internet at home for work purposes (1:12 hrs).


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