IT, through their choice of employee tools, plays a critical role in the retention and motivation of the workforce.
An essential and growing component of the workforce, knowledge workers are those individuals whose primary role is the creation or management of information. Document collaboration is an increasingly common component of these workers’ daily tasks. In fact, research conducted for PleaseTech by Osterman Research reveals that during a typical month, knowledge workers create an average of 36 documents on which they will need to collaborate with others, while also being asked to collaborate on a further 34 documents. That total of 70 documents a month equates to an average of more than three documents a day. Despite the frequency of collaboration among knowledge workers, the tools they employ to "do the job" are often inadequate. PleaseTech’s research shows that nearly half of knowledge workers consider document collaboration to be problematic due to the inefficiency of the tools they employ. This contributes to compliance and regulatory problems, missed deadlines, poor document quality and difficulty in maintaining corporate standards, and while this is particularly true for those working in heavily regulated industries, the overall effect leads to decreases in productivity and difficulties retaining talented workers.
In fact, 77% of the survey’s respondents reported serious problems in attracting and retaining knowledge workers. Indeed, over half of the people surveyed said IT, through their choice of employee tools, plays a critical role in the retention and motivation of the workforce. Quite simply, better IT tools mean better results. Eighty five percent of respondents said better tools lead to increased productivity, 64% the ability to make decisions more quickly, 55% a happier working environment and for 18%, they would be more likely to stay with an organization. Looking specifically at the importance of IT tools in relation to the retention of knowledge workers, it is important to consider the cost to a business of recruiting a new employee. First, there is the direct cost, that of paying a recruitment consultant. Then the cost of the learning curve for each new recruit, followed by the loss of knowledge – the bank of information a worker takes with them when they leave an organization. The cost of replacing a knowledge worker, as well as the cost savings from retaining them, should not be taken lightly. A study from Oxford Economics found that the cost of replacing a single member of staff is $44,798. If we assume that in an organization of 500 employees the annual turnover could be reduced by only 5%, the resulting savings would be $1.12 million. So what does all this mean? Decision makers must understand the critical role that document collaboration plays in their organization. With the greater reliance on contractors, remote workers and external business partners, the future work environment will require even greater document collaboration, so it is vital to make the right purchasing decision when looking at the software options available. The key is to query knowledge workers about the tools they believe would enable them to do their job more productively – and then allow them to take the lead in the purchasing decision. Finally, organizations must evaluate their current document collaboration tools and processes, and seriously consider add-ons or alternatives that will enable greater employee productivity and efficiency. The business case for considering new tools should encompass more than the initial acquisition cost. Undoubtedly, the decision-making process with regard to software purchasing is changing – more onus is being placed on the end user to decide what tools they actually need, and with businesses more open to extending the collaborative capabilities of their existing systems, the future for those knowledge workers looks set for improvement.
David Cornwell is CEO for PleaseTech.PleaseTech specializes in software solutions for the collaborative review, co-authoring and redaction of documents. Its flagship product, PleaseReview, solves this critical business issue by offering controlled, simultaneous and secure collaboration for the review and editing of Microsoft Word and other document types.