In this opinion piece, Avanade Australia Modern Workplace Lead Chris Stradling runs through the importance of people in any business strategy.
The end of a calendar year is a time when focus tends to turn inwards as Australian businesses consider their performance and plan for the new year. It’s a perfect time to reflect on your organisation’s strategy.
A recent Workplace Experience research of 1,375 global senior decision-makers (including 100 Australia business leaders and decision-makers) found that while nearly all business leaders (94 per cent) said reimagining culture and employee experience was important, they were less confident about actually implementing the strategies.
Businesses need to address this gap between acknowledging opportunities and actually implementing strategies. The same research estimated that businesses could achieve a 16-per cent increase in annual revenues and reduce operational costs by 13 per cent by implementing a holistic workplace transformation that encompasses technology, operations, culture and employee experience. This equates to approximately $2 billion based on the aggregated annual revenues of the participant organizations.
Mind the gap
When it comes to transforming workplaces, businesses are keen to talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Although more than 90 per cent of business leaders agreed they needed to modernise, our research showed less than half have put in place actions to achieve this.
Of the 100 Australian respondents surveyed, only 42 per cent have implemented initiatives to optimise or modernise operations, while 44 per cent have implemented strategies to bring the physical and digital parts of the business together. The research revealed 99 per cent of decision makers said modernising workplace platforms and services was important, but only 43 per cent have taken steps to modernise.
Technology has developed enormously in recent years, and customers and employees alike expect a similar standard of convenience and connectedness from the businesses they interact with and work for. Making the effort to improve your technology offering not just for your customers but for your employees can mean your business improves its talent attraction and retention rates, not to mention increase satisfaction too. Simple solutions like virtual assistants, chatbots and cloud-based planners have the potential to drive vast improvements in productivity. They automate the tactical, mundane tasks while freeing up employees to deal with bigger picture, strategic projects.
Barriers to change
Despite their willingness and recognition that improving workplace experience is necessary for modern business, cost, people and time still need to be addressed before implementation. Our research revealed half of companies couldn’t afford the time to implement operational improvements (48 per cent). Other reasons given were:
- Uncertainty over realising the real business value of optimisation (38 per cent).
- Employees were resistant to change (38 per cent).
- Over a third cited upskilling talent (40 per cent) and talent recruitment (35 per cent) as obstacles.
These barriers reveal the importance of securing buy-in for change from leaders in all areas of the business, not just the CIO and IT team. To drive transformation forward, business leaders need to get all employees onboard this journey through regular two-way communication, adapting to feedback and providing training and upskilling where necessary.
Productivity benefits driving workplace transformation
While there are clear revenue and operating cost benefits to be gained, productivity is also highly desired. The majority of respondents (64 per cent) cited increased productivity as the biggest benefit of creating employee experiences that are on par with customer experiences.
Tis the season
The time to implement a holistic workplace strategy is now. The benefits to revenue, productivity and operating costs are clear. Business leaders recognise the importance of modernising systems and providing a seamless experience for both customers and employees, but barriers such as time and lack of skills stand in their way. Implementing a workplace experience strategy will drive sustainable value and provide the key to exceptional customer experiences, as well as a competitive differentiator.