Technology Trends & EHS Tips

3 Important Industry Trends that EHS Teams at Tech Companies Need to Know

June 1st, 2017

After two decades of incredible innovation and growth, it’s an exciting time for the technology sector. After all, technology has become a vital component of our daily lives, as well as a critical driver of success for businesses across all industries.

And, of course, that growth shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, according to PwC’s 2017 CEO Survey of the tech industry, 87% of tech CEOs say they are very or somewhat confident of revenue growth in the next 12 months.

However, growth never comes without challenges—particularly when it comes to environment, health and safety (EHS).

As tech companies build their workforce and add assets to their portfolio, their EHS teams face daunting tasks to bolster a happy, healthy and safe work environment for all—and ultimately help protect the company from costly incidents, employee turnover and PR headaches.

In late April, EHS and sustainability leaders from an array of tech companies came together for our sixth EHSxTECH® event to discuss global EHS challenges, opportunities and trends. To kick off the event, we discussed some major trends shaping the tech industry, as well as how EHS teams can show their strategic value.

Below we highlight three of those trends, as well as tips and insights on how EHS teams can play a role in taking advantage of them.

1. The tech talent shortage is reaching new heights

When it comes to finding top tech talent, the struggle is real. Of course, this certainly isn’t a new problem for the tech sector. Tech companies have been fighting to retain and attract the best of the best for years.

However, today’s shortage is perhaps the worst we’ve ever seen. As Quantum Workplace put it in its recent Engaging Tech Employees industry report, “The talent shortage is real—and arguably much worse than it was during the dot-com boom of the late 90s.”

In addition, while PwC’s survey shows that tech leaders are optimistic about their growth prospects in the next year, many see the lack of available talent as the No. 1 threat to their growth prospects—with 80% saying they are somewhat or extremely concerned.

Of course, if tech companies are unable to grow revenue, they can’t continue to innovate. Indeed recently surveyed more than 1,000 tech hiring managers and recruiters, and found that 83% say the talent shortage has hurt their business.

“Companies throughout the industry are feeling the pressure as the inability to timely hire tech talent affects their bottom line,” Indeed reports. “Beyond keeping the business from moving into new markets and growing revenue, organizations are struggling to maintain their current advantages.”

How can EHS teams help? By helping to elevate the company’s reputation for providing a happy, healthy and safe environment that anyone would want to work in.

According to Quantum Workplace’s report, the number one thing that impacts engagement is knowing that leaders of the organization are committed to making it a great place to work.

“Technology employees don’t just want competitive salaries and flexible work options,” the report explains. “Of all the items on our survey, leadership’s commitment to creating a great work environment had the highest positive correlation with technology employees’ level of engagement.”

EHS teams know they play a leading role in creating great work environments—from ensuring employee comfort and safety with ergonomics to running employee wellness programs. They also know that buy-in from top leadership is essential to the success of any initiative.

EHS teams should work with leadership to understand the business and cultural value of EHS, as well as how important their role is in achieving success. EHS teams can also work strategically with business development, marketing, human resources and other departments to tell the story of what it’s like to work for the company. This collaboration can ultimately help attract and grow your company’s talent pool, as well as help cement your department as a strategic business partner.

2. Employee attrition is a rising concern

Employee retention is often a top priority for any company. But as tech companies experience fast business growth and the gap in available talent persists, employee retention is often a top pain point.

In fact, the tech industry is at a higher risk for turnover than other industries. According to TINYpulse’s 2016 Tech Industry Report, when tech employees were asked if they saw themselves working at the same organization in one year, they responded with lower scores (7.95 out of 10) than both the general benchmark (8.49 out of 10) and the comparison responses from last year (8.19 out of 10).

Of course, the pain of losing a capable employee is compounded by the real cost of the loss. In its report, TINYPulse pointed to a recent study from the Society for Human Resource Management that reveals the total cost of replacing an employee can range from 90% to 200% of their annual income.

“In the tech space, where so much of a company’s resources reside in the minds of their employees, this estimate should perhaps be even higher,” TINYPulse says.

How can EHS teams help? By bolstering EHS culture within the workplace. According to our own research, 75% of tech employees say that feeling personally safe and secure in the workplace is really important to them.

As a result, EHS teams shouldn’t be shy about promoting EHS as a company value, as well as recognizing employees for the contributions they’re making. By consistently showing concern for employees’ well-being, you can ensure employees feel valued. And valued employees are happy employees who want to stick around.

3. Tech employee engagement is declining

According to Quantum Workplace, the good news for tech companies is that the industry ranks near the top when it comes to employee engagement. In fact, out of 17 industries profiled, tech came in as the fourth most engaged industry in 2015 with a 70.44% employee engagement rate.

However, that engagement rate was 3% lower than it was just two years before.

“This shift, coupled with a series of problematic trends, means technology employers can’t afford to keep doing business as usual,” the report states.

How can EHS teams help? By leveraging their stakeholder engagement chops to zero in on employee needs and encourage engagement.

Smart stakeholder engagement is a core component of any EHS strategy. When managed effectively, stakeholder engagement helps you build rapport, strengthen communication, gain useful insights and ideas, and mobilize employees to participate.

Identify high-flying, respected employees who show interest in environment, health and safety, and reach out to them to get their opinion on how engagement among other employees could be improved. Then ask them to help you design, implement and promote positive changes. These people can become your ambassadors to lead by example and provide you with new insights on getting other employees on board.

Stay tuned for more trends and insights we uncovered at EHSxTech. To learn more about the event or to learn how you can join us at the next one this fall, visit our EHSxTech information page.

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