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The Case For Rebalancing Employee Productivity
A study in the Harvard Business Review showed that the resignations were being led by the tech and health care sectors. India is being swept by the trend as well.
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Something strange is afoot. Well-qualified people are voluntarily quitting their jobs. In the employment market, Quits, as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics calls them, are the new pandemic. About 34 million Americans have left their jobs this year in a phenomenon now called the “Great Resignation”—a term coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management in Texas.
Signs of the great resignation are visible in a recent Microsoft survey which said over 40 per cent of the global workforce were “considering leaving their employer this year.” A study in the Harvard Business Review showed that the resignations were being led by the tech and health care sectors. India is being swept by the trend as well. Expert forecasts suggest that the Indian IT industry alone will witness attrition of over 1.15 million. Importantly, the trend is showing a change from involuntary to voluntary attrition. A 23 per cent attrition in the IT talent base of 5 million is cataclysmic. Leaders in the industry must address the challenge. One of the answers lies in rebalancing the employee productivity equation using technology.
In the weeks to come, there will be several academics, management consultants and HR authorities offering ways to manage the great resignation. If quits are becoming a problem in your organization, be sure to read and absorb as many as possible. But first, let’s take a quick look at the top insights Microsoft provides in their study. Of the seven trends the study points to, here are three I believe we need to pay most attention to Flexible work is here to stay, leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call, and high productivity is masking an exhausted workforce.
Flexible Work from Home (WFH) practices triggered by the pandemic, arrived as a boon to tech organizations. With the right infrastructure and security processes, the WFH trend provided organizations with access to a large, location-agnostic talent pool. The same thing applies to employees. In a hybrid world, they can find employment anywhere. The tables have been turned on employers.
Leaders need to bring more emotional intelligence to the table. They need to bring more transparency to how decisions are taken and how they affect employees. Decision-making itself should be made autonomous. And leaders should communicate (and listen) more often, in greater detail. A cool coffee shop on the premises and eye-catching office furniture do not matter in a pandemic-affected world. Employees are going through a tough and anxious period. Their need is for emotional support. The need is to make employees feel they are in control. And the need is to create top-quality interaction and engagement.
Productivity has become a challenge over the last 18 months as we all have had to adjust to new routines, tools, and remote colleagues. Workloads have gone up. The Microsoft study said that the number of email messages delivered to commercial and education customers via Microsoft Exchange Online in February 2021, when compared to the same month in 2020, was up by over 40.6 billion. The Microsoft Teams usage has gone through the roof.
Everyone is on multiple Zoom or Webex calls. Digital exhaustion is reaching peak levels while employee experience is not improving to compensate at the same pace. Plus, there is pressure to perform and continue to maintain pre-pandemic productivity. Add pay cuts and a lack of growth opportunities to the mix, and we have the perfect HR fire.
One solution to this complex set of problems is to focus on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and draw up plans to rebalance employee productivity using technology.
D&I practices automatically inject greater emotional intelligence into an organization. As the character and nature of employees become mixed and vibrant, there is great respect for the unique skills and capabilities that each employee brings to the organization. We do not compete any longer with each other in the workplace. We collaborate. We would compete, however, if we had the same skills and backgrounds, as we would become a threat to each other.
It is old news that homogenous teams create costs and heterogeneous teams bring gains. Given the swift changes in the IT industry, it is no longer viable to simply give lip service to D&I. Many employees will, wisely, soon begin to ask a set of key questions before they join, “Do you have a D&I officer? What are your diversity policies and goals? Do employee referrals that help meet diversity goals get a higher reward or bonus?”
There is bound to be a matching interest in technology that addresses employee exhaustion and burnout. The solution lies in introducing intelligent collaborative bots—or co-bots—in the work environment. These are software bots that operate as co-workers. They improve the employee experience (millennials are most likely to join organizations where the employee-to-bot ratio looks healthy) by taking over repetitive and boring tasks.
Three types of co-bots need to find their way into IT organizations: the first is roles-based such as IT service desk, tester, supply chain analyst, project management; the second are function-based and cut across employees, assisting in tasks such as leave applications and approvals, looking up a company policy for travel, or making reimbursement claims; the third are bots that manage back-end support processes in areas such as issuing purchase orders and processing invoices. These bots will reduce the burden on employees, ensure higher accuracy and speed of execution, while being available 24X7 at scale.
IT companies that begin the processes of rebalancing employee productivity using technology will become talent magnets and happy places to work in—for a very simple reason. These organizations will make life easy while ensuring that employees can feel valued by contributing to the organization using skills and capabilities that are non-replicable and uniquely their own.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.