“Clients do not come first,” entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson once said. “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

That wisdom is reflected in increasing focus on the employee experience (EX) in a competitive labour market. The Great Resignation and the trend to remote and hybrid working show why employers must go the extra mile to retain staff as knowledge workers widen their job searches beyond borders.

Part of the answer lies in applying smart technology. Tech investments to support remote/hybrid workers and product innovation are both top-three IT budget priorities for 23% of companies with fewer than 1,000 staff, according to Foundry’s State of the CIO 2023[1] report. And 39% emphasise the need to upgrade outdated infrastructure.

According to McKinsey and Company[2], good employee experience “requires a profound reorientation away from a traditional top-down model to one based on the fundamentals of design thinking.”

It says this lets firms deliver “tailored interventions that focus on critical moments that matter to maximize satisfaction, performance, and productivity.”

So, what does this mean for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs)?

According to IDC, 50% of SMBs will reorganise, deploying remote and virtual distributed structures through technology by 2023. The same report said that by 2022 that 10% of this sector will account for 20% of new job creation in developed economies.[3]

As these businesses grow, they must revamp how they reward and equip staff. Nobody wants to use old or suboptimal technology. And, especially among younger workers, access to the latest devices, software and services offers a way for employers seeking the best talent to unleash people’s potential, job satisfaction and scope for productivity.

Front and centre here is choice of laptops, the core, do-everything devices most of us depend on to do our jobs. The right laptop is critical to employee satisfaction as so usability, performance and manageability must be right.

A quick sense-check may include:

Performance. Seek well-balanced specifications with the optimal combination of processor, memory, video, networking and storage, as well as stepping up individual elements depending on use cases. A power user of video conferencing may need faster video and networking, for example, but also wide-view and environment-sensing webcams, crystal-clear audio and AI-powered noise-cancelling microphone adapters and incoming sound.

Usability. Every user is different so provide options for staff to try out machines and ensure they are happy with weight, size, keyboard travel, number of ports, smart input devices (even including touchpads) audio output, screen size, aspect ratio, resolution and so on. Staff that spend a lot of time on the road may wish to look at ultralight options while convertible designs support a range of working patterns.

Manageability. Look for robust designs such as those provided by ASUS, which holds itself to military-grade durability standards. Also, seek support tools including, but not limited to, Intel vPro® platform technology platform so that issues can be addressed rapidly, security settings changed remotely, and devices can be collected for maintenance if necessary, all without overburdening IT teams.

But the technology-enabled employee experience should be broader than laptop choice. Consider offering add-ons such as premium speakers or high-resolution cameras as well as a choice of software or cloud services. Remote users may need to be equipped with business-class broadband. And go further in anticipating needs by monitoring which features are being used and which are neglected, supplementing this by regular surveys[4] of user satisfaction and training as needed.

By investing in the right technology, businesses can ensure key concepts like meeting equity – the idea that everyone in a meeting feels like their voice is heard – are being realised effectively. But businesses must also remember this is about more than technology. The employee experience is continually evolving, and EX is not simply about perks or benefits.

Employers need to earn trust and grant their staff greater autonomy. Moreover, they must use personalisation to tailor that employee experience for increasingly diverse teams. If you’re not pushing hard on EX then you’re falling behind and risk losing your best people.

Find out how you can upgrade the employee experience with ASUS Business technology.

[1] State of CIO report, 2023

[2] Article: This time it’s personal: Shaping the ‘new possible’ through employee experience

[3] IDC, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Small and Medium-Sized Business 2022 Predictions, Doc # US48299421, October 2021

[4] Qualtrics: What is the employee tech experience?