Retaining talent through technology investment

Constant staff and talent turnover is one of the most detrimental indications of a poorly performing business. Not only does it bear a huge financial penalty, but it constantly disrupts business operations, knowledge and competence.

Talking to key CFO’s it’s one of the top 10 issues that they want to fix, the financial penalties are huge, it’s like flushing money down the toilet, there is no return, no reason, it’s just plane stupid.

Now you are going to get turnover, but it can be an epidemic in some companies. I remember well meeting a CEO of a large advertising agency in New York 8 years ago, who’s main concern was that every 3 years the company turned over the entire employee roster! Can you imagine, potentially the company has no one with more than 3 years experience and knowledge of the fundamental values of that business!

Technology has a much larger influence now in employee satisfaction. Ask yourself are you a company focused on “technology infrastructure and ERP” or are you a company focused on “social information and mobile technologies.” Although you have to have both, the first one is an exercise in cost reduction, while the later is an exercise in talent investment.

You see 20/30 year olds, your most productive people don’t want to be constrained by complex technologies and email systems, they are just boring, linear and clunky to them. What they want is technology that encompasses their behaviors, beliefs and daily interactions. So Social tools like Chatter, Jive, Yammer are key “social binding” applications that catalyze peoples interactions with the business and it’s talent, they are engaging, interesting, insightful, playful and damn-right effective. Layered on top of your essential business tools, like timesheets, BPM software and your key ERP tools, they remove the irrelevant elements only exposing users to the information that they need.

If your technology leaders are still trying to push out complex, old fashioned ERP/UI tools to your most talented people, you will loose them. ERP technologies to front end users just fail on the user experience level (even Larry Ellison has stated recently that the ERP technologies of the past are not the future), so embed their outputs into the “social interstate” instead. Why do you think Marc Benioff has changed the focus of Salesforce products from CRM to “social engagement” through Chatter? Because he knows that a fair majority of Salesforce licenses stay on the shelf, because the user experience is not that great in the core product.

So have “social business activity” centers, not Enterprise Resource Planning. Have “talent catalyst centers” not Human Resource Software. Have “collaborative and information portals” not desktop office applications, have “social conversations” not email, have “customer knowledge” instead of CRM.

Large companies blow $’s each year on talent turnover, only because once they attain the talent, they cannot leverage the talent and today’s talent is restless, constantly being comfortable with change, new challenges and bold actions, businesses are not.

If you are a “C-level executive innovator” or “global head of talent” I would advise you to take a strong look at your overall technology strategy and refocus on empowering, enabling and engaging your talent, before the CIO’s strategy makes them head for the door.

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