Workplace IT is the secret weapon to attract and retain staff in the growing ‘war for talent’, new research from Deloitte and Google reveals.

Flexible IT policies, such as allowing staff to bring their own devices to work, to work from home and to use social media, are to key to employee satisfaction making them one-third less likely to leave.

The findings come from the The Connected Workplace — War for talent in the digital economy, a report released by Deloitte Access Economics and commissioned by Google Australia. According to the report, investing in flexible IT policies could save large companies up to $350,000, and small businesses $22,000, on hiring costs each year. For an average large-sized business, this adds up to a saving of around $2.6m over ten years. 

“Our research shows a direct relationship for the first time between flexible IT policies and employee satisfaction and retention,” said Ric Simes, Partner at Deloitte Access Economics. “Many people report that their home IT is better than that at work. They tend to rate their home technology as more user-friendly, up-to-date and faster. This trend has raised employee expectations of their workplace IT — especially among Gen Y and Gen Z workers.”

Many Australian and New Zealand businesses are recognising this trend and moving their workplace IT to the cloud for increased collaboration. For example, Woolworths announced they were moving their staff to Google Apps for Business in April this year. They also recently set up a ‘bring-your-own-device (BYOD)’ policy so employees could have the flexibility they wanted, while also ensuring security.

“These report findings highlight a broader trend which we’ve been seeing for some time now, which is that people want to work the way they live. Australian businesses like Woolworths and Fairfax have recognised this and their staff now work more collaboratively and flexibly with cloud-based tools,” said Claire Hatton, Industry Director at Google Australia.

“As the report highlights, making it easy for people to connect, share and work together not only makes employees happier, it makes good business sense too.”

The Connected Workplace report comes at a time when Australian and New Zealand business leaders are experiencing a shortage of skilled employees. “For every 100 people retiring over the next five years, there are less than 125 people exiting education. This is the lowest ratio in Australia’s history and it’s stalling businesses innovation,” Simes explains. “According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2011 20 per cent of businesses reported the inability to find skilled workers within the labour market or within their company as a barrier to innovation.”