In this article, Kira Makagon, the Chief innovation officer at RingCentral, shares her insights and advice on how executives can better implement technology “perks” that help employees stay engaged and productive.
What defines “a great workplace” is the subject of much discussion these days in the technology industry. For some workers, perks like ping pong tables, free lunches, and gym memberships are considered entry-points to a desirable workplace. While we all appreciate such fun perks, when we see that the human resources department at a company is going above and beyond in these extra offerings as a way to attract and retain talent, we’d be wise to ask why there is such an “arms race” over whether or not HR is offering nap rooms or massages.
Employee experience author Jacob Morgan has done some research in this area, culminating in what he calls “The Employee Engagement Index.” He writes, “engagement has been very focused on trying to force employees to work in outdated workplace practices while giving them perks to distract them from their unfortunate situations.” Think about it: in offering a “nap room” as a workplace perk for your office, you’re marketing that life at this place is either so slow or so strenuous that employees are being encouraged to sleep there. Does that sound like a desirable workplace to you?
In order to be competitive, HR needs to market a great workplace experience that takes a more holistic approach. In his index, Morgan ranks companies’ employee experiences based on three factors: technology, culture, and physical space. In this article, I address one of those three categories -- technology -- and discuss how implementing integrated communications and collaboration tech is mission-critical to branding a desirable workplace as a desirable one that will attract and retain the best talent.
Inadequate and ineffective tech tools affect employees and your bottom line
According to a survey conducted by RingCentral and CITE Research, 75 percent of employees admit to feeling unhappy when wrestling with what they perceive to be inadequate or ineffective technology tools. 54 percent of workers believe that such ineffective tech makes them less productive. 40 percent of employees admit that these frustrations with disjointed communications technology have led them to be rude to their coworkers, friends, and family. In other words, tech frustrations cost your employees productivity, happiness, and manners.
Especially in today’s workforce, many employees work in increasingly mobile and flexible ways, and they expect their workplace experiences to meet them wherever they are -- at home or in the office, on their phones or at their desk, in seamless and intuitive ways. At this point, offering the best and fastest technology isn’t even a “perk,” it’s an expectation that workers have because it directly impacts their ability to perform. Among workers’ greatest frustrations are time-wasters like toggling between apps. Data show that such toggling costs almost 70 percent of employees an hour each day, which adds up to 32 days of lost time per year. This time-sink annoys them more than household chores, trying to lose weight, or paying bills! And, of course, it costs your company time and money. With workers tending to use up to four communications apps, the solution to these everyday frustrations is through the implementation of an efficient, integrated, fully unified communications and collaboration platform -- not through installing another Foosball table.
The best perk is the best communications and collaboration tech
Three out of four employees agree that their company prioritizes perks like free food or lunchtime yoga classes over prioritizing what employees need to do their jobs: the right tech tools. With 83 percent of employees indicating that a seamless communication platform would boost retention and encourage them to stay longer with a company, it’s clear that they want the best tools to do their job more than they want much else. The exact types of tools matter even more for the newest generation entering the workforce, with 62 percent of workers ages 18–34 saying that team messaging and video meetings motivate them to work harder.
As tempting as it is to think of the “employee experience” as creature comforts like options for gourmet coffee, the flavor of the month isn’t going to matter when an employee returns to their desk with that coffee unable to do their job efficiently and effectively. Modern tech supplies like new computers, standing desks, and unlimited data on mobile phones goes a long way to show employees that office benefits are tailored to them and to their work, and not treated as a one-size-fits-all solution. A single platform is as comfortable as it gets for many employees, and it’s also a perk that improves performance. The data show that 9 out of 10 employees find that a seamless communications platform improves their interactions with each other as well as with customers while boosting happiness, productivity, effectiveness, and job satisfaction, and it helps the bottom line.
How your workplace will change for the better with better tech
Some other tech “perks” that HR departments could prioritize when deciding their offerings includes:
Team messaging for casual interactions, supplanting e-mail for meaningful content and timely feedback
Options for video interaction with co-workers and customers
An integrated “home base” that allows employees to use one single platform to communicate -- no more app switching!
AI-integrated tools that can be used to surface and tackle priorities
Integrated phone systems for when voice contact is needed, with number portability so that you can be accessed by one number wherever you are
If you and your employees don’t have the tech you need at your fingertips without needing to search, switch apps, or leave your desk, reflect on the aforementioned costs. There is a better way to do business, and, given the data, delivering the best tech is going to be healthier for your staff and for your company than even the most Zen meditation class could be.
It ought to be a no-brainer that a company’s highest priority must be giving its employees the best tools with which to do their jobs. Their frustrations with regard to shuffling among apps or platforms isn’t going to be solved with a shuffleboard court, no matter how hard a company tries. When a future employee walks into your office and sees a lot of fun things to do, they may accept a job offer because of that perceived atmosphere of ease, but that could be a red herring. If your tech can’t back up fun with functional tech as well, the same employees may want to walk right back out of the door. The best thing for any bottom line is attracting and retaining employees who will be able to do the best possible job without tech frustrations that limit their efficiency, their mood, and more. And when employees whose needs are being met tech-wise are engaged and happy at work, then all of the other perks are even more fun, and in use by people who want to be there, not by people who are trying to distract themselves from miserable work.
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