4 ways leaders can maximize technology for future growth
After the volatility of the pandemic, the U.S. has entered the “aftermath economy.” Leaders should use this period of relative economic stability to best prepare themselves for the next growth cycle. Those who focus on retention can ensure their talent won’t quit as soon the job market re-accelerates to the white-hot pace of 2021-2022.
While there are many ways CEOs can address their workforce velocity rates, or the speed at which employees quit, one of the most overlooked comes down to the basics: infrastructure.
Infrastructure encompasses everything from the factory floor to equipment, office space and remote setups. A physical working environment is fundamental to employee experience, regardless of where or how the work is being done.
Whether it’s a warehouse or construction company, distribution service, or accounting firm, strong infrastructure boosts output and eliminates the distraction of frustration.
How COVID jumpstarted digital transformation
The pandemic highlighted the universal need for — and all too frequent lack of — technology infrastructure. Many employers were not prepared when they were forced to suddenly pivot to remote work during the shutdowns due to antiquated processes.
When COVID-19 hit, organizations reported three-to-four years’ worth of digital transformation seemingly overnight. In fact, companies moved 40 times faster than they had believed would be possible prior to the onset of the pandemic.
And now, amid the continued return to the office “tug-of-war” and growing popularity of hybrid work, leaders are tasked with ensuring their tools can frictionlessly flex between in-office and at-home environments.
Technology has never before played a more critical role in a company’s ability to function efficiently.
In fact, across industries, small to midsize business (SMB) leaders consistently rank technology as one of their two most significant investments, per Vistage data, whether that’s in the form of business applications, equipment upgrades, automation, or collaboration tools — only second to recruiting efforts.
When harnessed correctly, technology empowers organizations to increase productivity and improves the employee experience.
Additionally, three out of four SMBs identified technology as a way to reduce the labor burden, otherwise described as talent gaps.
The following are four approaches CEOs can take to maximize their investments in technology.
It is critical companies get good at collaboration. The myriad of communications tools available, compounded by the rapidly developing hybrid workplace, demands organizations to review their suite of collaboration tools (e.g., Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Google Drive, Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams), rationalize use-cases for each tool and standardize company expectations for how and when they are used.
While many individuals had to learn how to function in the work-from-home environment rapidly during the pandemic, we are now in a state of finding best practices that can be applied throughout entire organizations.
The workplace is the foundation for performance and can be a competitive advantage when looking to attract and retain talent. Ensuring employees have the best tools, applications and workspace conditions demonstrates a commitment to their development and provides a powerful boost to employee engagement.
Before investing in new technology, it’s important leaders first make sure they are taking full advantage of the features that are already in place. A key piece of this is training employees on every applicable function. Not every capability will be mission-critical, but there is almost always more efficiency and knowledge to extract from current systems before implementing entirely new business applications.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Finally, AI will impact individual productivity long before organizations are equipped to capitalize on it. CEOs should identify the best AI applications for their team and then train them on them extensively. This will allow employees to figure out how it will best help them in their specific role. Then, as AI gains speed, leaders will be poised to accelerate their digital transformation as well.
In today’s hybrid, digital-first world, infrastructure is no longer as simple as having an open office space and a few computers.
Leaders who fail to put their technology at the top of their priorities and invest in creating a best-in-class work environment stand to miss out on top talent and fall short when the next growth cycle inevitably ignites. And, as leaders learned during The Great Resignation, having the right team in place during a tight labor market can be the difference between success and failure.
This story first appeared in Inc.