Retaining younger workers relies on the digital experience

Published on the 26/09/2023 | Written by Heather Wright

Retaining younger workers relies on the digital experience

The CIO as chief talent officer…

Tech leaders are concerned that failure to meet increasing technology demands from a younger workforce will lead to talent drain and disrupted productivity, reputation and performance.

Riverbed’s Global Digital Employee Experience (DEX) Survey 2023 found that globally 68 percent of the enterprise IT decision makers surveyed fear younger employees will leave the company if IT fails to meet their digital experience needs. Fears of productivity, reputation and performance damage were equally high at 63 percent globally.

“Delivering a better digital experience is getting harder, rather than easier.”

In Australia, the rising demands from younger workers are also being noted alongside concerns about meeting those demands, with 41 percent of IT and business leaders foreseeing disruptions if expectations aren’t met and 26 percent predicting potential ‘reputation-damaging’ consequences. Sixty-four percent expect younger employees to consider leaving the business if their digital needs aren’t met.

The results come as the number of ‘digital natives’ in the workforce climbs and Baby Boomers wane. In Australia, Millennials and Gen Zs will fill over 75 percent of jobs in the next 10 years, with all Baby Boomers having hit 65 by 2030. 

That changing of the guard is leading to increased expectations for digital experiences and intensified pressure on IT resources – as, no doubt is the general increase in tech use in both our private and work lives.

Millennials and Gen Zers were flagged as the groups with the highest expectations for technology at work and nearly all – 91 percent – of decision makers globally said they would need to provide more advanced digital experiences to meet the needs of those workers. 

It’s a situation that has Riverbed CEO Dave Donatelli suggesting that CIOs are essentially becoming a chief talent officer as well.

Indeed, nearly half (48 percent) of Australia IT decision makers said seamless DEX is the most important aspect for employee engagement – ahead of office perks such as happy hours (27 percent), and free coffee and snacks (14 percent).

It is, however, a delicate balance. While workers want technology, a growing body of research suggests we’re reaching app overload, highlighting further the need for smart digital employee experience, which provides a smooth experience, without the need for 10 different digital tools. A Harvard Business Review study found workers are toggling apps around 1,200 times every day, while the 2022 State of Workplace Technology report found 89 percent of global IT professionals felt bloated technology led to significant time-wasting every week. 

Given the near-unanimous acknowledgement of the risks companies which don’t meet workers’ digital expectations face, most leaders – 92 percent globally – say investing in DEX is among their top priorities for the next five years with plans to accelerate digital experience adoption and implementation also running high. 

But for the 1,800 IT decision makers from 10 countries surveyed in the Global DEX Survey 2023, delivering a better digital experience is getting harder, rather than easier, with 87 percent saying slow-running systems and apps, and outdated technology, were directly impacting their growth and performance. 

Among the biggest obstacles to delivering digital experience are budget constraints, talent shortages, inadequate observability tools, lack of appropriate cloud services and software-as-a-service apps and too much data.

As the push for digital technologies continues, AI, cloud and automation were seen by respondents as business-critical for their organisations in the next 18 months, though AI was less favoured in Australia (37 percent versus the global average of 45 percent).

“By prioritising investments in DEX and solutions such as unified observability and AI,  and by empowering IT teams to enhance the digital workplace, organisations can attract and retain top talent, outperform competitors and achieve sustainable growth,” the report says.

“Aligning IT initiatives with the goal of delivering exceptional digital experiences creates a positive feedback loop, leading to higher employee engagement, customer satisfaction and overall business success.”

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