Want to stop workforce attrition? Invest in better hardware, says Microsoft

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A lack of appropriate skills and outdated hardware are holding back the use of AI and prompting workers to consider changing jobs, according to a report from Microsoft.

In a new e-book, Accelerated Hardware & Digital Skills Becoming Key for Retention, 89% of UK IT leaders who use AI on a daily basis told the firm they would use it even more if they had the right tools.

However, around one-third don’t think their company’s current device portfolio is fit for purpose in the age of AI.

IT decision makers told researchers that analytics was the area where AI was driving most value, followed by customer service, content creation, operations, and cyber security. However, four-in-ten believe their organization is falling behind in terms of technology, thanks to a lack of budget.

“In research conducted in by Microsoft Surface in 2023, we discovered that, while IT decision makers were under pressure to show cost savings and were managing a greater level of security over finances, they were still being provided with the financial resources to get hardware decisions right, said Alan Slothower, head of Surface Commercial at Microsoft UK.

"We hope that organizations follow through and back IT leaders in 2024, so they can empower the workforce with the tools and skills they need to drive commercial value in the era of AI."

Employees also believe poor hardware is holding them back, with a quarter noting their work PC isn't powerful enough to operate AI - a figure that rises to 35% of Gen Z employees.

Three-in-ten believe their current PC or device is slowing them down in their day-to-day job, and more than a quarter said their work PC regularly crashes or freezes.

Meanwhile, employees don't feel they're being equipped with the ability to succeed. Fewer than a quarter of Gen X workers believe they have the skills needed to leverage AI in their day-to-day work, with this figure rising to just over a third for all ages, and 56% for Gen Z employees.

As a result, the study suggested, six-in-ten of those currently looking to change jobs said they'd probably stay longer if their company enabled them to develop more digital skills.

Half of Gen Z workers said they’re taking active steps to safeguard their careers, while Gen Z workers are twice as likely as the average employee to be planning on switching companies, at 41%, specifically to future-proof their career.

"The rapid adoption of AI in the workplace necessitates higher specification technology and digital upskilling. For IT decision makers, it is imperative to prioritize and provide AI-ready PCs and effective training," Slothower said.

"Empowering staff in this way is especially important to younger generations, with these tools is crucial for retention and career engagement."

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.