By Andy Pearce, VP of Northern Europe, Arkadin

Employee attrition and churn rate are among the most costly problems facing companies in this highly competitive current employment market. It is now vital for businesses to make employees feel wanted and valued as an individual if they are going to be successful.

Technology is increasingly becoming one of the most important deciding factors in this battle, with user demands evolving so quickly that once state-of-the-art unified communications (UC) implementations can quickly become clunky and dated. Failing to deliver the right technology to the right employee could see a business left behind by its more innovative competitors, who could in turn steal their employees from under their noses.

While the future can be hard to predict, asking the right questions when reviewing your UC needs can future-proof your procurement decision. So, to ensure you implement the technology that best suits the wants and needs of your workforce, here is our checklist of key questions to ask potential UC providers.

Can you help me provide the right tools to the right people?

Younger generations entering the workplace are demanding access to the latest messaging tools and services they use in their social lives during their working day, whereas the technology expectations of older workers may be different. For example, millennials will expect access to instant messaging tools and chat services, whereas older employees may prefer to pick up the phone and speak to their contact.

Whatever their preference, it’s crucial that employers enable staff to work and communicate in the way that suits them best, whenever they want and wherever they are. Having a centralised set of tools and intuitive technology will support staff across the business and encourage an agile, responsive and engaged workforce.

It’s also important to ensure that technology helps team members to share information with each other. There’s a huge amount of under-the-radar collaboration going on within an organisation, which helps people do their jobs and keeps them motivated, so technology needs to harness these communication nuggets.

Therefore, implementing policies like preventing personal email or social media usage at work or while working away from the office can often do more harm than good. Empowering people to collaborate and communicate gives them a reason to go the extra mile and feel part of the bigger corporate picture.

While all organisations need to have processes in place – both for people and for technology – they also need to be flexible and dynamic to ensure they stay competitive. So it’s important to ensure these processes are flexible enough to help employees to do their jobs better, rather than restricting them. Technology should enable people to communicate and collaborate easily, not be a force of command and control that will have your best people running for the exit.

How can you help me ensure user adoption in the UC tools we rollout?

User adoption is a massive challenge for many businesses, and is most commonly caused by not providing the right tools to the right staff. Indeed, our Missing U in UC research found that employee resistance was the biggest barrier to technology adoption for 41% of businesses.

Additionally, research from Dell and Intel recently found that 25% of workers would quit their job if technology wasn’t up to scratch, never mind refuse to adopt their employers’ tech policies, so providing the right technology has to be a key focus for businesses.

The key to adoption is deploying technology solutions that are intuitive and easy to adopt, and often technology that employees are already using informally. From chat applications to document sharing and whiteboarding software, businesses can guide their technology strategy to what’s already popular with employees to boost adoption levels.

Ease of use has to be a prominent factor in any technology buying decision, ensuring people are both comfortable with technology and giving them a reason to stay.

Can your technology engage my employees and improve morale?

A common complaint from employees is that information they provide about their role, the workplace or the company as a whole disappears like socks in the wash. Not providing feedback advising that their contribution was useful can make them feel like they’re wasting their time and, as a result, can be a sure-fire tactic to encourage them to sharpen up their CV.

Many UC technologies enable businesses to offer great feedback, yet just 2% of employers provide ongoing performance reviews to their staff. Applications like chat services can offer instant feedback which are simple yet powerful and give staff a sense of gratification. So businesses have to ensure that communication is two-way.

Asking the right questions of your potential UC provider offers you the great bonuses of a highly motivated and loyal workforce. Providing great technology that your employees actively want to use on a daily basis not only facilitates the work/life balance that all workers dream of, it also helps you attract and keep the best people.

Overlooking seemingly small requests like working from home every other Friday or wanting to attend meetings remotely occasionally can make a massive difference. Enabling the right technologies that make enabling and approving these requests simple put you in that small percentage of companies that are able to have a real grip on churn rate.

So, ask the right questions to ensure that HR and IT can work easily together and ensure a happy workforce.