How IT executives can shape the future of employee experience
IT has long been a key component of employee experience. Since the pandemic, it’s taken center stage with IT executives driving job enablement and productivity through world-class technology experiences that keep employees motivated and engaged. Now is the opportune time to make employee technology experience management part of IT’s long-term strategy.
In 2020, coronavirus changed the world of work almost overnight, and it’s clear that the workplace will never be the same again.
More than 65% of the U.S. based IT executives we spoke to said that after COVID-19 they expect at least a quarter of their workforce to work from home permanently.
When the majority of the global workforce shifted to working remotely, new experience gaps opened up, and existing ones became even more obvious. Technology proved to be the saving grace for many companies – bridging or repairing experience gaps, and enabling employees to continue working and delivering through lockdown. The pandemic accelerated the pace of change – particularly within IT departments - and forced almost every business function to adapt.
And in the blink of an eye, the IT experience became the employee experience.
Our data shows us that over 60% of IT leaders believe this new model is permanent, and the role of IT in improving the Employee Experience will only grow in importance.
Intrigued, we want to know more...
Alongside PwC, we saw first-hand how our customers were adapting, and the critical role IT executives played in supporting their workforces during this time. We wanted to understand how IT investments were being prioritized and implemented throughout the pandemic to meet new, unexpected employee and business needs.
We were particularly interested in the employee feedback aspect – it’s what we help organizations do, after all – and using it to help enable workforces to maintain productivity through disruptions.
As a result, we commissioned a study of more than 200 CIOs, CTOs and other IT executives across various industries in the United States - respondents varying by company size, but with at least 1,000 employees. We asked them how they have evolved their technology investments using their employees’ feedback and insights throughout COVID-19, and based on our findings, we see some telling trends as we look ahead. Our findings will help inform IT organizations to better define their employee technology experience strategy and better enable the needs of the workforce of the future.
Here’s what we found...
The IT department is a silent superhero
Pre-COVID, most employees probably only interacted with members of the IT department when our laptops needed fixing or a new hire needed their tech set up. Suddenly, CIOs and their teams had to expand their existing tech infrastructure, implement new systems, disseminate them to a decentralized workforce and offer IT support and services to everyone – all within a few days, and while navigating a global pandemic. Some feat.
We found that even though IT executives had to scrappily connect new ways of working across departments, most of those have been successful investments, which they’ll continue to grow long-term. This also means there’s a huge opportunity right now for technology executives to be key C-suite partners alongside the other business functions.
[IT executives] have a seat at the table and they can be a hero if they engage more on the experience side, as an ally and a champion for enabling better employee experience and new ways of working.
IT is more crucial for employees than ever before
Technology has always been important for employees, therefore in many cases the IT investments already in motion simply accelerated. But with entire workforces relocated to non-traditional offices and worksites or working remotely, it has become crucial. Without the social benefits of a physical office, workspace or business travel, our company-issued laptops, phones, and software became the sole connection between employees and employers. Employees have not needed IT more than they do now.
And working remotely, in some capacity, is probably here to stay:
More than 65% of our study respondents believed that at least 25% of employees at their organizations will work from home permanently.
With a hybrid workforce of remote and on-site employees, it’s clear businesses are going to need different work models, some of which have yet to be invented and supported. And the bulk of this innovation will come from IT professionals.
The long wave trend is about to shift to a more flexible, more distributed workforce, towards more collaboration versus individual contributor, towards more agility.
What’s more, the findings in our study revealed that most successful organizations are reshaping their IT strategy to put the employee voice right at the heart of their technology decisions and transformations.
Employee experience is paramount
As we all know, a great employee experience is essential for delivering great customer experience. It makes sense, therefore, that IT has to be a major priority for EX, and a long-term investment.
95% of Leaders increased their investment in employee listening since COVID-19 began.
And employee feedback will become even more necessary in this post-COVID, hybrid world. Leaders will need to know instantly if something breaks, doesn’t work, or can be done in a more efficient way. Listening to feedback from distributed teams and taking real-time action has never been more important.
Having an employee experience impacts innovation. Having an employee experience impacts your frontline employees and things like selling and service. Having employee experience allows you to project expertise into the market. It allows you to showcase your expertise with customers.
Listening is one thing, but continuously capturing employee feedback, interpreting it, and understanding critical insights to be able to quickly act upon it is another. And not just at pain points, but also at key moments along the employee journey. A strong feedback loop between IT teams and employees will be a key factor in any technology transformation.
Building the workforce of the future
Moving forward into 2021 and beyond, what ducks do companies need to get in a row to build a robust, engaged workforce for the future? The IT department will have to take a more strategic role in the C-suite to drive through critical technological solutions and support across all departments. Silos are a thing of the past. Investment in listening, analysis, and actioning solutions will help you understand how your internal systems, reporting, tools, and services can best support your people.
We’re all embracing a new normal way of working. It’s essential that it’s made as painless as possible.
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