Adopting a Digital-First Mindset to Address Staff Turnover


Just as digital tools and technologies, such as cloud computing, mobile apps, and videoconferencing, became the silent heroes for business continuity during the pandemic, so too can they lead the way in helping to address the employee turnover tide.

The U.S. is in the throes of one of the largest worker resignation rates in at least three decades, and it’s hitting every industry – from manufacturing, retail, and hospitality to IT and other professional services. As it turns out, companies that have embraced a digital-first approach to their operations may be able to ride out these stormy times better than organizations that have not. A look at current conditions helps explain why.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, “more than a year and a half into the pandemic, the U.S. is still missing around 4.3 million workers,” and employers are struggling to fill more than 10 million jobs.

There are many reasons for the “Great Resignation,” including the abundance of opportunities for higher pay and better benefits. Many people grew accustomed to working from home and are not willing to switch back to the office, and others are being forced to stay home because of a lack of daycare workers. Regardless of the reason, employees are now in the driver’s seat, and employers are struggling to simply keep them in their seats.

While offering higher wages is the predominant way to stem the stampede out the door, there are other employee incentives. The pandemic disrupted how we live and work, but it also caused many people to pause and re-examine what’s important to them. Workers do not want to go back to business as usual.  They’re seeking better work-life balance, improved benefits, and a better experience if they must return to the office or worksite.

See also: Smart Offices Are Closer Than They Appear

Digitization is coming to the rescue of workers

Just as digital tools and technologies, such as cloud computing, mobile apps, and videoconferencing, became the silent heroes for business continuity during the pandemic, so too can they lead the way in helping to change the turnover tide, improving the employee experience and enabling businesses to do more with fewer workers.

Consider the following additional ways that digital-first technology can help reduce staff turnover in the enterprise.

Analytics can nip problems in the bud. Many times, employee resignations are completely unexpected. Employers are too busy keeping business afloat that they miss the warning signs of checked-out workers.  Data-driven analytics can help identify those warning signs. Analytics integrated into Human Resource (HR) data can trigger alerts to workers logging excessive overtime. Or, it can analyze data in employee feedback questionnaires to indicate trending frustrations.   

Automation can eliminate tedious work. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) uses machine learning to automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks, such as document processing or data entry in myriad industries. By freeing up workers from performing these tasks, they can put their energy and training into learning more strategic, fulfilling jobs that can provide more room for career growth. In addition to RPA, other types of automation, such as software-driven invoicing or claims processing that remove the manual activities, can enable staff to focus on more interesting work.

Chatbots can do the talking. For call centers, customer service centers, and government offices used to receive many inquiries on a daily basis, chatbots can address the common questions repeatedly asked by customers and the public that can make agents feel like broken records.  By eliminating the routine questions, agents can focus on the tougher ones that can make their jobs more rewarding. Further, chatbots can operate 24/7, don’t require bathroom breaks, and don’t take it personally when an irate customer starts raising his voice.

AI can take the doubt out of decision-making. One of the greatest sources of stress for managers everywhere is questioning a decision they made – especially when the consequences of their decisions are high. Machine learning and deep learning algorithms can be trained with diverse data to forecast the likelihood of future outcomes so that managers can take specific actions in advance or leverage statistical evidence to show why specific decisions or actions are required.

See also: How Chatbots are Easing Pressure During the COVID-19 Disruption

A digital-first approach is reducing labor-shortage challenges

Digital tools are not only improving the satisfaction of office staff but for other occupations as well. 

Self-service check-out in retail. Self-checkout stations in brick and mortar retail sites are freeing up sales staff from simply conducting payment transactions to providing advice and actually helping customers with their purchasing decisions.

Mobile apps in restaurants.  According to an NPR article, more than half of hospitality workers who’ve quit said no amount of pay would get them to return, and rude customers are partly to blame.  To be fair, many customers are becoming frustrated with long table waits, slower service because of staff shortages, and rising prices. Self-service tablets are allowing customers to order their food at restaurants, as well as pay for it on their own, which frees up service staff to wait on more tables in less time with less impatient customers.

Remote monitoring in healthcare. Amidst a critical shortage of nurses, telehealth and remote monitoring technologies are reducing the physical patient touchpoints required and taking the stress out of manual monitoring of vital signs or patient visits for nurses.  These types of remote monitoring technologies are also leveraging AI to remove the chances of manual data entry errors that can occur with overworked staff and increasingly larger patient workloads.

There’s no question that the Great Worker Resignation will continue to get worse before it gets better, but companies that take a digital-first approach to worker satisfaction and letting technology do a lot of the heavy lifting are finding that employees can become more satisfied and fulfilled.

For many years now, digitization has become essential to business productivity, efficiency, and reduced costs. Now, however, a digital-first strategy must become the essential tool for employee satisfaction. An end to the Great Worker Resignation depends upon it.

Carlos M. Meléndez

About Carlos M. Meléndez

Carlos M. Meléndez is the COO and co-founder of Wovenware, a Puerto Rico-based design-driven company that delivers customized AI and other digital transformation solutions that create measurable value for government and private business customers across the U.S.

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