Want to save money? Invest in the employee experience
Talk of the financial pressures being faced by public sector organisations is nothing new. Yet, the growing number of councils finding themselves in financial difficulties was a hot topic at the recent LGA conference in Harrogate. The same goes for healthcare, where stretched resources – financial and HR – are often the prompts for digital […]
Talk of the financial pressures being faced by public sector organisations is nothing new. Yet, the growing number of councils finding themselves in financial difficulties was a hot topic at the recent LGA conference in Harrogate.
The same goes for healthcare, where stretched resources – financial and HR – are often the prompts for digital transformation. Policing is in the same predicament.
There’s no doubting the situation is tough, and that the public sector has worked hard to drive efficiencies and cut costs where they can. However, you could argue that we’ve long reached the stage where the low (and mid-level for that matter) hanging fruit has been picked and we need to drive organisation-wide, holistic change that challenges the way we work and the processes we use, for one simple goal: to put more money back into the system.
When I joined Agilisys, I did so because I firmly believe we can combine our sector-leading digital transformation expertise with the ServiceNow platform, to power great experiences, better outcomes and cost savings. The employee experience is one area where I know this is achievable.
If you look at the disparate nature of the platforms that the public sector uses, it goes without saying that reducing the number of platforms in use will cut outgoings. That will save money from a licensing perspective and, potentially, reduce ongoing management and development costs. However, the area that’s often overlooked is the actual experience of the people that are working with those many different platforms. There’s a cost involved in training people to use multiple platforms. There’s a cost in maintaining the specialist knowledge needed for those individual platforms. Then, there’s the recruitment cost from people leaving because they get fed up of using disparate, separate, disjointed systems.
As a people manager, there’s a good chance that in your organisation, there are probably upwards of three platforms that you must use to manage everything from timesheets to expenses, to appraisals, to project financial controls. It’s easy to get fed-up when you’re going round in circles to use all those different platforms, and fed-up people become demotivated and leave, often to the private sector where the employee experience is much more mature.
- 51% of public sector employees agreed that there has been an increase in the number of staff leaving their organisation since the start of the pandemic
- 50% had noticed staff leaving their organisation to take up roles in other sectors
- 46% agreed that job vacancies take longer to fill compared with pre-pandemic
- 60% state onboarding of new staff is a major challenge
The talent race is an expensive one to be a part of, especially given the current ‘buyer’s market’. If you lose good people, you must hire more people, you might have to use an agency and pay a fee. And then you may have to pay higher salaries because there are fewer people with the skills that you need in the market. There’s a cost to the HR team. There’s the cost of onboarding staff. There’s a cost to the overall disruption and hidden service drops that are ill-afforded by the public sector.
This problem has been exacerbated by the unwavering commitment to the digital experience shown by digital disruptors, those digital native businesses that are omnipresent in our everyday lives. I can fly halfway around the world, open my Uber app and seamlessly arrange a taxi. Or I can order my favourite takeaway at the press of a couple of buttons. Yet, when you go to work and are faced with multiple platforms, some of which are bespoke legacy systems that don’t work as intuitively as people maybe expect, it’s noticeable…and often frustrating.
There is no reason that we can’t have that same unified user experience at work. The technology exists. Everything we do should be geared towards consolidation and ease of use (with accessibility a big winner here too).
That doesn’t necessarily mean ripping out all of the Workday or SAP platforms. They have their place. But why should an employee have to learn and constantly toggle between multiple systems? By adopting a frontline system of action to orchestrate all activity, the user experience can be transformed. ServiceNow will sit at the front of those foundational platforms and enable me as a council employee to have one way to manage a single person. It simply doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that as ServiceNow will bring multiple platforms together behind the scenes.
Organisations that fail to invest in this sort of employee experience are failing to invest in their people, which can be costly. What does it cost to replace people who have left because they’re fed up with their poor employee experience? How much faster is it to onboard new starters? How much more efficient can people be? What extra value can they add when they’re not navigating around multiple systems?
- In organisations viewed as digitally innovative, 85% agree that they expect to be working for their current organisation in a year’s time, versus 72% in non-innovative organisations
- 87% of employees are open to the introduction of new tech solutions in their organisation
To realise these savings, I think we need a mindset shift. Digital transformation needs to have people at its heart and that means moving away from transactional, line-by-line expenditure. We need to consider those bits that are harder to measure, the long-term benefits, such as how satisfied are your employees with the tools they use for hours every day. When you’re transforming, I am adamant that you must factor in the people costs. Do that and you start putting money back in the pockets of citizens.