TECHNOLOGY can play a major role in attracting and retaining skilled young workers who expect to have a say in how a company is run, a major roundtable event was told.
The debate heard that intelligent use of technology can make companies more attractive to millennials, who are more likely to leave a firm and join a rival if they feel their voice is not being heard.
Software can also help managers tackle problems such as absenteeism and also ensure workers at all levels understand the company’s long term goals.
The roundtable, which was held at The Yorkshire Post head office in Leeds on behalf of Cascade, the human resources and payroll software firm, featured a number of leading human resources professionals from across the region. The panel featured Paul Sparkes, product and strategy director at Cascade HR, Steve Sweetlove, who heads up professional services firm RSM’s human resources team, Alex Clements, a partner at law firm Schofield Sweeney, who is an employment law specialist, Emma Plummer head of human resources at Airedale Chemical, a manufacturing firm based in Cross Hills, Tracey Hopkins, the finance director of Howarths People and Safety Management, which is based in Cleckheaton and Katie Rigarlsford, the university business centres manager at Leeds Beckett University. The debate was chaired by Greg Wright, The Yorkshire Post’s deputy business editor.
Mr Sparkes said that software could improve a company’s performance by making employees feel more engaged, through the use of surveys. Technology can also help managers by spotting challenges or emerging behavioural trends. The use of anonymous surveys could, for example, reveal some home truths about a business, he said.
Mr Sparkes said: “After a while, what we have seen, is that customers are putting the ability to not be anonymous in certain surveys. Some people want to step up and show that they care about their environment in a much more public way.”
Mr Sweetlove added: “Millennials will not have their voice suppressed. They will have an opinion. They will vote with their feet if they are not happy because there is no job for life. Productive people are engaged people. An annual appraisal isn’t going to work for somebody whose motivation is different.”
Ms Hopkins said that studies indicated that millennials demand and require regular feedback. Technology can also help with the selection process.
She added: “Companies need to become more innovative in attracting key talent. Actually, the individual is interviewing us. Are we right for them?
“The workforce coming through were born into technology. They are used to making comments as they feel fit, rather than waiting until you have a meeting and you’ve got the opportunity to discuss that issue.”
Ms Plummer said: “Millennials are not afraid to voice their opinion. They are not hiding behind that screen.”
Ms Rigarlsford said that millennials wanted to have an opportunity to voice their opinions, which could be beneficial for morale and staff engagement.
She added: “It’s a good way of doing it rather than a manager having to sit down and say, ‘How are you doing?”
The panel also agreed that it was important to build confidence by acting on survey findings.
Ms Clements said: “The most damaging thing I’ve seen is where an employee engagement takes place, you get to the negative feedback and nothing changes. That’s far more damaging than not asking the questions in the first place.”
The roundtable debate was held to celebrate The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards, which honour the brightest and best leaders within the region’s corporate community.
The awards are open to firms of all shapes and sizes. Cascade is the sponsor of the outstanding employer category.
The Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards 2018 are due to open for entries next month.