In the UK, two in five adults or 40% of the workforce “pull a sickie” or take a sick day if they need a day off, according to a Com Res survey. These numbers are striking, but we need to be asking why people feel compelled to do such a thing. According to the Office for National Statistics, the most common reasons for taking actual sick day include the common cold, musculoskeletal problems such as back pain, mental health conditions and “other” problems. It’s these latter two often hidden problems that this article will focus on.
In the corporate world, we are getting far better at addressing the importance of mental wellbeing, but this is a work in progress. For example, one area that we are drastically failing to address is the issues that workers face when their tech doesn’t work properly.
By now, mobile devices are a necessary tool we’d all like to be able to take for granted, especially when they’re a critical part of your business. When it works, technology feels seamless and powerful. But mobile device failure at critical moments is causing more stress and heartache to employees than ever before. And ultimately, the inability to manage these mobile device failures will push employees to leave your business.
That reality can be tough to hear, but if board members knew about these problems surely they would want to address them? Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep employees happy and create better results by eliminating much of these stressful mobile device failures.
In our second annual State of Enterprise Mobility Survey, we discovered that mobile device failures are impacting over half of frontline workers in companies who depend on their mobile devices to do their job. Even worse than this, it looks like these problems are on the rise.
The survey found that more than a third (37%) of workers say mobile device issues have got worse in the last year. And they say the top three causes of their mobile devices letting them down are: Unreliable network connections (45%), battery failure (41%) and applications crashing or becoming unstable (40%).
Sometimes these statistics can feel abstract, but if you put yourself in the shoes of these workers, you can already predict what’s coming next. The survey was able to track a decline in employee wellbeing from dealing with these kinds of issues. A full two thirds (66%) of workers reported anxiety or increasing levels of stress when issues with their mobile devices prevented them from doing their job. That’s a substantial increase from just the previous year when it was only 39% of workers that reported the same thing.
In addition to the issues mentioned above, 95% of all workers reported that mobile issues prevent them from doing their jobs effectively. Meanwhile, 37% of workers have taken at least one day off in the last 12 months due to the stress of not being able to do their job because of mobility issues, more than double from last year’s survey (16%).
All of that extra stress and sick time results in nearly 30 percent of employees saying that their coworkers are leaving their jobs in search of better ones, without so many mobile issues.
Overall, the research shows that mobile device failures are high in volume; negatively impacting productivity, staff morale and most of all, costing businesses revenue. The costs of these problems experienced by line workers are in addition to the Total Cost of Ownership models the commonly-cited tech firm VDC research has promoted for years, and therefore show the costs of mobile device failures are actually higher than previously thought.
So, what can companies do to support employees? Here are four steps to consider:
1. The first step for any business is to poll workers on their insight around their support services. Getting a true, anonymous read on how employees are feeling about mobile devices is the first step to getting your company on the right path. This poll cannot be done with bosses or IT professionals audibly nearby, as employees might be anxious to speak freely for fear of being accused of misusing or misunderstanding their devices. To be truly effective, employees should feel free to share their experiences.
2. Make sure IT is ready to quickly react to and prevent tech issues. The hidden nature of mobile failure can be linked to the IT team not having the best tools available to detect and deal with issues proactively. And these problems are only exacerbated by workers who are reluctant to report every device failure because they just want to get on with their work, resulting in a gap between what IT knows about the problem and what the end-users experience.
3. If apps are business-critical, IT may need to change tools. IT needs to actively monitor what solutions are available to manage mobile devices so that it can implement the best solutions that provide actionable insights and real-time visibility into what can help or hinder business. Until very recently, IT did not have the tools available to them to gain this real-time visibility into mobile devices. But with new management tools available from several vendors, there is an opportunity to rethink how we prevent failures for mobile workers.
4. More than anything, you must be creative, while including employee input. Every employee will need to feel their input is valued. That way they will support whatever solutions your team creates. IT may decide to contract a third-party platform to provide additional software or support; or continue to manage all aspects in-house. Either way, sharing complete visibility across employees throughout the process before creatively implementing solutions will be key in helping employees feel validated and supported.
Your employees have spoken, and they’re leaving workplaces where they don’t feel supported by IT. If you ignore them, the costs will not just be money but also time to hire, train and implement their replacements, who will likely follow them out the door when the same support issues arise for them.