In an era where IT is often known as the “no-department,” denying seemingly every request for new and updated technology, chief human resources officers (CHROs) need more powerful insights to demonstrate to chief information officers (CIOs) that with modern tools, HR departments can retain their hard-won talent.

It's imperative for CHROs to articulate to CIOs why HR resources such as mobile self-service tools are necessary for employee retention. With such technologies readily available, HR will be able to better serve the workforce and enable employees to be more productive and engaged with their work. HR needs IT to become the “yes department”. To help you get there, we need to paint a clearer picture of the workforce today. 

Welcome to the Age of the Employee

In case you missed it, this is the era of the employee. Would-be workers can be choosier than ever about where they work. To make matters more challenging, there's a scarcity of critical talent in the marketplace, and it's becoming tougher than ever to retain employees. In fact, per Figure 1, that shortage of talent is HR's biggest challenge today.


Top organizations are taking additional steps to ensure that they can find, attract, hire, and retain employees. For example, Best-in-Class (see sidebar for definition) companies are 30% more likely (60% vs. 46%) than All Others (Industry Average and Laggards) to invest in new technology to make recruitment more engaging for candidates.

A majority of today’s talent are Millennials (see sidebar for definition). In fact, by 2020, Millennials will make up 50% of the global workforce; and by 2025, Millennials will make up nearly 75% of this same workforce. Successful organizations grasp that Millennials are their biggest priority in the workforce, so they're making great efforts to appeal to them, such as having first-rate, accessible technology. They're also putting a greater amount of effort into recruiting Millennials than other generations. Best-in-Class businesses are 9% more likely (70% vs. 64%) to recruit Millennials for open positions than Gen Xers, and are 49% more likely (70% vs. 47%) to recruit Millennials for the same openings than Baby Boomers.


Figure 1: Organizations Are Struggling with the Availability of Critical Skills

In 2015 Human Capital Management study, the following key performance indicators (KPIs) were used to distinguish the Best-in-Class (top 20% of aggregate performers) from the Industry Average (middle 50%), and Laggard (bottom 30%) organizations, with mean-performance among the Best-in-Class as follows:

  • 86.9% of employees rated as “highly” engaged
  • 30.3% increase in customer satisfaction rates
  • 9.9% decrease in voluntary (unwanted) employee turnover

Employees at Best-in-Class companies are 1.7x more likely to commit to their work because they are challenged and intrigued by their work, compared to having a competitive salary.

Meeting Modern Technology Expectations

Ultimately, employees, whether Millennials or not, have transformed their expectations for how their employers treat and support them. One clear selling point for Millennials is userfriendly, top technology — namely mobility. They expect resources like speedy Internet access, state-of-the-art laptops or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, flexible working schedules and conditions, mobile capabilities for everything under the sun, mobile phones, and easy access to information and content that will help them learn and grow. 

Without some or all of these tools, Millennials will perceive your technology to be outdated, which might push them away altogether and affect retention. While employees commit to their jobs for multiple reasons, from perceived growth opportunities to having a strong relationship with their manager, workers at Best-in-Class companies do so for intrinsic reasons. For instance, said employees are 1.7 times more likely (63% vs. 37%) to commit to their work because they are challenged and intrigued by their work, compared to having a competitive salary. In order to attract and retain this workforce, HR needs assistance. 

IT Meet HR: It’s Time to be Friends

Employers need to catch up with Millennials' expectations and have up-to-date technology at all times, or they'll risk losing their most valuable asset: the employees themselves. But HR already knows that. It's getting everyone else on board that's challenging, namely IT. A common roadblock is that CIOs see HR technology and applications as cumbersome and too multifaceted to control. If CHROs can clearly explain to CIOs how technologies like mobile self-service are easy to use, the chance of adoption can increase. A middle ground can be attained, especially since such technologies are a lot more accessible than CIOs might think.

To ease that situation, HR shouldn't make it an “us-against-the-world” situation and try to find the right technologies and resources all on their own. HR should bring IT into technology conversations earlier on and be collaborative and communicative, yet they should also demand a seat at the table for any IT application discussion to make sure that employees' needs are being considered, namely around enterprise mobility. Best-in-Class organizations grasp the importance of that; in fact, they are 22% more likely (56% vs. 46%) than All Others to have their HR and IT departments collaborate in selecting HR technology providers. 

Best-in-Class organizations are 22% more likely than All Others to have their HR and IT departments collaborate to select human resources technology providers.

Best-in-Class companies are 44% more likely than All Others to connect employee access to information with employee satisfaction and engagement.

An Ongoing Dialogue

With the help of IT, HR can enact modern technology, such as mobile self-service, that helps the organization attract and retain the hard-to-find talent that's necessary for success. HR can transition to solutions that will truly enable employees to be connected. Not to say that HR doesn't know what they're doing, but IT departments often have insights into aspects of software and technologies that HR doesn't even consider. There needs to be an ongoing dialogue that addresses needs, expectations, and concerns wherein both parties feel included. It's important not to try and take on every tool at once. Some resources should come before others, especially the ones that are employee-facing and help the workforce perform most effectively. Case in point, an increasing percentage of companies want to offer their employees mobile-enabled, self-service technology. Mobile access enables employees to handle all of their personal and professional needs on the go, from getting vacation time approved, to contributing to a project, to looking up a client in a CRM or database. In fact, per Aberdeen's Can You Drive Employee Experience and Engagement Through Self-Service? (June 2014), companies nowadays are 2.4 times more likely (52% vs. 22%)

than companies in 2013 to provide their employees with access to self-service tools. An increasing percentage of organizations understand how valuable that access is for employees. But it's not just about handling their responsibilities and managing their time; it's also about ensuring employees are supported and ultimately retained. Best-in-Class companies understand the connection between access and employee engagement. Notably, such businesses are 44% more likely (62% vs. 43%) than All Others to connect employee access to information with employee satisfaction and engagement. 

With great employee engagement and satisfaction in check, CHROs and HR can demonstrate to CIOs and IT that self-service is a necessity. With self-service access, companies can empower employees to control their own schedule and can better track their own personal information. What's more, on the employer end, self-service access means higher efficiency and improved accuracy for updating and tracking employee information. 

Proceeding Forward

As demonstrated, HR needs up-to-date resources to attract and retain the top talent of today, especially Millennials. Mobile enabled tools are top of mind when it comes to such technological advancements. CHROs often need to prove to CIOs how such focuses are paramount to employee attraction, engagement, and retention. To get there, CHROs must prioritize establishing a more collaborative, strategic relationship with the CIO. Consider the following tactics to help strengthen that rapport:  

  • It's about the business. Updating employee-facing technology isn't just HR's issue; it's everyone's issue. Without top talent internally, organizations will struggle to meet their goals and grow. The business should do whatever is necessary for employees to feel supported.
  • Simplify the process. HR's technology is known to be cumbersome, tedious, and easily breakable. But it doesn't need to be that way if there are quality resources in place initially. CHROs will require less support from the CIO with stable, robust tools in place like mobile self-service that allows individual employees to be in charge of their own tasks and responsibilities.
  • Ease the transition. Since all HR technologies shouldn't be updated at once, IT can focus on what affects the bottom line. Notably, employee-facing resources should come first as their efficiencies and connectivity is top of mind for engagement and retention. It's imperative to iterate to the CIO that you understand the cost and complexity of updating technology and that you want to work with them to make it easy.

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