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Improving staff retention and satisfaction with automation

One of the most frequent conversations we have with clients is about the challenges they are facing recruiting and retaining skilled technology staff. It appears to be a universal problem for everyone and by all accounts the gap between the demand for qualified technology workers and the supply available is widening.

It’s also a key contributor to a number of other challenges facing technology leaders across the country. Wages are being driven up, making it difficult to recruit and retain qualified employees, at a time when everyone is facing increased pressure to reduce costs. It’s also increasing the cyber security risks businesses face as they lack the technical expertise to secure the business or address the ever growing volume of attacks.

According to an analysis conducted by Deloitte, the digital skills gap is costing the country an estimated NZ$2.2 billion per year. Interestingly, in a similar study, they estimate that automation could save NZ businesses $50 billion by 2035.

As you’d expect, we are firmly aligned with the Deloitte study and believe automation has a big part to play in resolving many of the issues facing NZ businesses today, particularly our current talent shortage. But it’s not in the way you might think.

Yes, automation can be used to replace the menial tasks some of the team perform and therefore present an opportunity to reduce headcount. But at a time when technology skills are increasingly critical, and in short supply, there is a case to be made that your organisation will be better served utilising the additional capacity created to up skill members of the team and to deploy them in more strategic and valuable areas such as security, innovation and product development.

As members of the team become more efficient and are provided opportunities to work on meaningful and rewarding projects, often requiring development and training, you’ll see a lift in employee experience and a corresponding lift in retention. Plenty of organisations who are investing in automation report improvements in both productivity and employee satisfaction levels as well as a decrease in costs.

These claims are supported by the research. A recent survey of NZ technology workers found that employees are more likely to stay with a company if they feel their skills are being properly utilised and developed. The majority of respondents report higher job satisfaction as a result of having access to automation tools. The Auckland Chamber of Commerce report automation is viewed positively by 72% of respondents, due to the potential for increased job satisfaction and improved staff morale.

Add to this the importance of sustainability to current and future employees. Automation is playing a critical role in the reduction of energy consumption, lower emissions and a smaller carbon footprint and as such adds weight to the decision to stay or join an organisation. And let’s not forget about the views of your customers when it comes to sustainability. Customers will also benefit from the positive impact on wait times, the reduction of errors and a more consistent customer experience.

The importance of automation in relation to NZ’s technology skills shortage is also evident when we consider the implications for organisations that fail to act. With the growing demand for these technologies, there will be increased competition for technology talent – both from outside New Zealand and within it. This will likely result in higher wages and salaries making it more difficult for organisations to retain the top talent they need.

Furthermore, there is an ever increasing demand for new skills as technology continues to evolve. If organisations fail to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and provide employees with necessary training opportunities, staff may be tempted by other employers offering these advantages.

Hopefully that gives you a sense of why we feel so strongly about the opportunities available through automation. I’ll take a look at the numerous other benefits of automation in my future posts. Things like efficiency gains, cost savings, environmental sustainability and customer experience. But having discussed the current talent shortage with a number of clients, and recognising the priority it holds with most NZ businesses, I thought it was a good place to start.

Automation is an essential tool for companies to remain competitive in the rapidly changing digital landscape of New Zealand. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your own automation journey, please feel free to contact us!

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