Employers are faced with an increasingly savage war for talent and attracting the right employees remains a serious challenge, especially in the current situation when the number of applications to jobs available has increased exponentially. The Deloitte 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey found that 70 per cent of respondents cited recruitment as an important issue, with 16 per cent labelling it one of the three most urgent issues their organisation would face in the coming year.

In this dynamic market, companies are being forced to rethink what they offer both prospective and existing talent in order to attract and retain the skills they need to grow. This is especially significant in the digital era, as working practices continue to change and we move towards a more hybrid way of working.

How are you supporting your employees?

Expectations about how the concept of work is delivered are shifting. According to recent research, two thirds of employees across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) feel that the flexibility of digital tools required for work would influence their decision to apply for or accept a position at a company. In other words, those organisations unable or unwilling to support their employees with the right technology to collaborate, innovate, and be creative, otherwise known as the digital employee experience, are going to struggle to attract, or indeed even retain, talent.

In fact, the latter will be even more of a struggle, with 70 per cent of respondents believing their current employers should be placing more importance on this area. With the global workforce seeing a shift to working from home, it’s clear that employers have stepped up to the task of ensuring employees have access to the tools they need to do their job successfully.

However, as we continue to navigate this changing way of working, employers need to identify who is responsible for the delivering positive employee experiences. This remains an issue, with over a fifth of respondents to the study feeling that not knowing who to approach was a barrier to delivering a positive digital experience. With virtual working becoming the norm, it is no longer possible to pop down to HR or IT if you have an issue. Therefore, individuals responsible for employee experiences must make themselves known to all staff to ensure that siloes are not created across the organisation.

Overcoming barriers to collaboration through teamwork

Put simply, the digital employee experience is the merging together of two separate business functions – IT and HR. HR has long been the gatekeeper of the employee experience, whereas if you say ‘digital’ to most businesses, they’ll automatically point you in the direction of IT. When the two are brought together, it can cause confusion over who owns what, with 49 per cent of employees not knowing if they should talk to HR or IT about their digital experience issues.

For many organisations, getting two functions to work together is a challenge – just 21 per cent of employees reported that HR and IT collaborate all of the time. It’s ironic that the barrier to helping employees work more effectively, and being able to collaborate, is a lack of teamwork between different parts of an organisation.

So, what’s the answer? For the majority of employees, it’s about HR and IT working together. Being able to offer a truly digital employee experience, with access to the devices and applications workers need, requires a technology core that can manage access and compliance while being flexible. That’s the remit of IT. However, the act of making sure it’s fit for purpose requires mapping what employees need and how they need it, aligned with a deep understanding of what people are experiencing out of work and what those insights can bring to the workplace. In short, this is the human element –  HR’s bread and butter.

If they do work together, businesses stand to reap significant rewards – namely better business growth and attraction of talent, driven by a more progressive culture and being rated as a top place to work. The research demonstrated a direct link between delivering a positive digital employee experience and better performing organisations. Employees that enjoy the freedom to work from personal devices have access to productivity apps from day one, and accessing apps on any device are more likely to work for high or hyper growth businesses.

Delivering better performance with better experiences

It’s clear that providing a digital employee experience is more likely to result in better business performance, driven by an engaged and positive workforce. The way to achieve this is through making sure there is collaboration between HR and IT. This should combine an understanding of what employees want with the right technology framework to deliver the apps, devices, and tools they want, in the way they want them. Get that right, and businesses will be much better placed to compete successfully in the war for talent and set themselves up for operating in the digital era.