The pandemic has prompted many employees to re-evaluate their job’s flexibility, resources and technology offerings as they adapt to new working arrangements. These circumstances highlight how technology investments and talent retention are imperative to the survival and success of small and midsize businesses. As the pandemic unfolded, companies that quickly adapted and initiated rapid digital transformations to expand operations and facilitate remote work fared better in terms of maintaining a tech-savvy workforce.
The one constant in the business world is change, so it is critical for businesses to continue investing in technology. The convenience and efficiency of digital mediums can propel companies to operate with more flexibility while simultaneously driving business growth.
Many small and midsized businesses had not prioritized technology investments and were not prepared when the pandemic first hit, but all have since had the opportunity to adapt and reflect on the lessons learned.
The latest iteration of CIT’s Tech & Talent Survey, which surveyed small and midsized business leaders, found that half of these executives have already evaluated the following improvement opportunities at their company since the pandemic hit:
Enabling Remote Working Capabilities
Continuous technological investment is necessary to create innovative working solutions for both remote and in-office work, business leaders say. According to the survey, nearly one in three small businesses (31%) indicate they are planning to invest in technology over the next year to facilitate work onsite or in a physical workplace, and small businesses plan to allocate the greatest proportion of their investments (22%) in equipment upgrades. Businesses that enable employees to work in remote or hybrid conditions have a clear advantage over those who don’t. Once these capacities are upgraded, they’re likely to remain a common feature of most workplaces even after the pandemic subsides.
Tech for Success
To adapt to an increasingly digital-first marketplace, 56% of survey respondents are planning to upgrade their business technology to increase efficiency and productivity. Additionally, 48% are planning to increase e-commerce opportunities for customers. By focusing on technological resources that are necessary to boost efficiency and revenue in today’s environment, employers are more likely to attract talent interested in joining companies that have the technology to empower them to do their jobs more easily and efficiently.
Desire for a Tech-Savvy Workforce
Just as prospective employees are looking for their employers to be up-to-date with the latest technology, employers are also looking for job candidates with the know-how to leverage that technology to sustain business operations and internal collaboration.
The digital transformation is placing a premium on a tech-savvy workforce. Leaders continue to discover new strategies and explore the intersection of technology and talent to drive business transformation. It is increasingly important for companies to invest in retaining and upskilling their employees to create a virtuous cycle – investing in building tech skills for their people, which in turn motivates them to continue their work at their current company, which ultimately benefits the company.
How to Kickstart Tech and Talent Investments
As small-and-medium businesses reassess and refashion their work protocols – from working in a physical location to providing employee training programs – they must prioritize investing in technology that enables team collaboration at its core. There are a few straightforward steps that a small business can take to kickstart their investments into tech and talent:
Determine Your Needs & Budget
A good rule to help recognize high priorities is to clearly determine what the lists for “needs” and “wants” look like. Do you need more talent? Do you need to improve working conditions to attract more talent? By evaluating what is essential, small business owners can strategically maintain financial health by avoiding spending money on non-essential aspects of the business at once. Budgeting allows owners to understand their capacity and gradually devote money to business needs.
Assess Your Financial Resources
Small businesses don’t have the financial resources that larger enterprises have. Equipment investments can be expensive and may not bring instant results to the bottom line. In cases where investments are imperative, borrowing or leasing may be the right solution to acquiring technology that is needed to remain competitive. Having a banking partner to advise and cater to the unique needs of small business owners through the intricate process is important.
Ways to Attract and Retain Talent
Working conditions, pay/benefits, and culture are important factors that job candidates take into consideration when exploring new opportunities. In a competitive talent market, it is vital that small business owners create a package that attracts individuals to their company and promotes employee satisfaction and productivity.
For many, investing in creating a productive, comfortable and convenient work environment through hybrid capabilities meets the needs of both the employer and the employee. By reshaping how work gets done, and the technology that supports it, small businesses can successfully navigate through the current period of disruption and be prepared for the next wave of change.
Ken Martin is the managing director, CIT Business Capital.