Shared services’ options to tackle the skills shortage

Insights | 22.05.2023 | By: Sarah Burnett

The skills shortage remains a significant challenge for shared services. Surprisingly, the shortage persists even in the face of economic uncertainty. The shift to remote work has further compounded the difficulties of managing employees and enhancing productivity while supporting work-life balance.

Another prominent challenge lies in streamlining business processes to eliminate friction from workflows that would otherwise lead to frustration and job dissatisfaction among staff. According to Gartner*, the intention of employees to stay in a job decreases with each additional point of friction at work, dropping by 35% when friction points reach nine.

Home-working and work-life balance

Home or hybrid working where employees work off-site for some part of the week became widely accepted during the pandemic. According to research by McKinsey more than 4 out of 5 employees wish to retain the model. It has many advantages including minimising commuting times therefore directly contributing to work-life balance. Working remotely however requires an output driven approach and a structure that helps employees with productivity. Good hardware and connectivity are essential as well as software tools that empower employees to get on with the job no matter where they are working.

To gain some employee perspective, we conducted a quick poll on LinkedIn, asking two questions:

  1. Has working from home improved your work-life balance?
  2. Has the available software and technology helped or hindered your ability to achieve work-life balance?

We received 66 responses along with some comments. An overwhelming 82% answered positively to both questions, indicating that working from home has improved work-life balance and that technology has been beneficial. However, 18% said that their technology had either made no impact or hindered their ability to achieve work-life balance.

The results are very encouraging, but some of the comments revealed that employees associate good technology with simply having the basic hardware such as a laptop, a large screen, and Bluetooth devices. There is a wealth of software tools that can boost productivity beyond the basic hardware.

There is a wealth of software tools that can boost productivity beyond the basic hardware.

Surprisingly, some employees had to purchase even the essentials themselves.

The comments raise another question and that is how aware employees about what software tools can do for them, e.g., in the form of intelligent assistants, online real-time process guidance and intelligent automation. These go way beyond the essentials of hardware and connectivity. Implementing new software solutions, like intelligent desktop automation, and optimizing processes can serve a dual purpose of helping enterprises grow, and help employees move higher up the service value chain to improve their skills and do more interesting work. The solutions enable people to accomplish more in fewer hours, thus improving their work-life balance. Without adequate investment and support from employers, many employees miss out on those tools.

Productivity Mining

Technology, such as’s productivity mining platform, can swiftly identify points of friction caused by inefficient processes, poor practices, lack of standardisation, or slow performing hardware. It can also find opportunities for automation such as repetitive transactions and even creative tasks that today can be enhanced with assistance from Generative AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools like ChatGPT. can find opportunities for automating some creative tasks with Generative AI (Artificial Intelligence) tools like ChatGPT.

Such process insights allow companies to make informed decisions about investments that address the problems.

Productivity mining also generates valuable insights for employees who get to see how they perform compared with their team averages, how they can improve their work, be it through better practice or by learning new skills to generate more value, to accelerate their career progression.

The choice before shared services executives

The skills shortage continues to be a problem, leaving shared services executives with a clear choice: they can either continue to invest in hiring and training to compensate for staff attrition due to problems like friction at work, or they can utilize productivity mining solutions to identify the root causes of issues that lead to employee problems and attrition. By leveraging the insights, they can make data-driven investment decisions to address the issues to retain their valuable skills and talent. The good news is that the same investments will help them boost business growth and shareholder value generation.

*From Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo India live broadcast – November 2022