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Australia’s productivity woes pinned on poor employee experience

Research by Ricoh suggests that the lukewarm view of employee experience among IT leaders is part of the reason for Australia’s declining productivity

Australia’s economy has grown for the past 28 years without interruption – but productivity has been declining 1.26% year-on-year in June 2019, based on CEIC data.

A study commissioned by Ricoh suggests that part of the problem is that the nation’s IT leaders lag their global peers when it comes to designing and deploying platforms to enhance employee experience.

According to the study, 84% of IT leaders are focused on making technology investments to achieve better business outcomes, but only 23% of CIOs see improving employee experience as a priority, and just 26% had deployed workplace transformation technologies.

Noting that Australian employees have had “to battle with antiquated systems and interfaces that are far from intuitive”, Ricoh said workplace productivity has taken a hit amid “growing feelings of frustration”.

To remedy the situation and uplift productivity, Ricoh said IT needs to engage with human resources (HR) teams urgently and deploy easy-to-use workplace tools and collaboration platforms that properly support workers.

Peter Hind, senior analyst at Adapt CXO Advisory, the research firm that conducted the study, said: “Too often, operational effectiveness is equated with cost cutting, rather than with enabling employees to work more efficiently and effectively through the judicious adoption of new tools and technologies which allow them to make a greater contribution.”

Gabriel Tsavaris, senior director of sales at Miller Heiman Group, a firm which provides advisory services to maximise sales performance, said in the current environment, “every chief sales officer is looking to squeeze more blood out of employees”.

But Tori Starkey, general manager of product, marketing and sales operations at Ricoh Australia, remained sceptical on whether people can be more productive. Simply layering technology on top of existing processes might further decrease productivity, she said.

Hind said businesses that want to boost productivity will need to forge a stronger alliance between IT and HR teams to improve the employee experience, thereby lifting engagement and productivity.

Adapt’s survey revealed that IT’s engagement with HR ranks very lowly – only 55% of CIOs believe HR plays a key role in fostering an innovative and digital-ready culture, even as recent research from Accenture revealed that organisations with above average employee satisfaction performed at 122% of the industry benchmark – without working longer hours.

In a separate survey of more than 500 Australian organisations that use at least one cloud service, the use of cloud computing has delivered more than A$9bn worth of cumulative productivity benefits over the last five years.

These productivity gains, however, do not necessarily result from a reduction in jobs, with 48% of businesses using cloud services reporting an increase in IT staff and 41% reporting a rise in non-IT staff.

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