IT and HR: A Not so Odd Couple

Together, the two can remove friction from the workplace, improve the employee experience and transform business results

It’s been said that happy employees equal happy customers. Unfortunately, employees today have never been more frustrated or disengaged. Why? There’s too much friction in the workplace that prevents them from getting things done.

Every day, we use a dozen or more apps just to get a single task done. And we’re required to navigate a whole bunch of different environments, remember a whole bunch of different usernames and passwords. And there’s lots of other friction that isn’t solely technological, driven by things we need to do that aren’t core to our real jobs. Most of us weren’t hired to review and approve expense reports or vacations or do full-scale performance reviews. Yet these tasks — and the applications used to execute them — take up a good part of our time.

It’s creating a lot of digital noise our day. But together, IT and HR can quiet it. In joining forces, the functions can eliminate the complexity and distractions that have employees down and create a superior work experience that boosts satisfaction, productivity, and overall business results.

“How businesses perform has always depended on how well their employees perform. Yet never before has the relationship between how well employees work and the digital technology that they use been so complex,” says Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst, Interarbor Solutions. “To improve things, business leaders must enhance and optimize the employee experience so that they in turn can optimize the customer experience and — by extension — better support the success of the overall business.”

Art Mazor, Principal and Global Human Resources Transformation Practice Leader at Deloitte, agrees. “Customers have a very high bar with which they measure their experience with an organization. And if the employee or workforce experience is not up to par, the customers feel it,” he says. “As a result, leaders recognize that they have to get this right and get their workers in a place where they feel they can be highly productive and in the service of customer outcomes.”

New Allies

According to The Experience of Work: The Role of Technology in Productivity and Engagement, a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) with sponsorship from Citrix, both HR and IT see this as their responsibility. Of the more than 1,100 senior executives across eight countries and industry sectors polled, 74 percent of IT executives and 75 percent of HR executives say they feel personally responsible for improving the employee experience.

The days when competitive salaries, benefits and career development initiatives were enough to find and keep talent are over. What employees today want in addition to all of this is a simple way to do their jobs. And this is where IT comes in.

In teaming with HR to drive the convergence of physical workspaces that are conducive to both collaboration and mindful work and digital ones that provide simplified access to the information and tools that employees need to complete tasks with minimal complexity and disruption, IT can help take things to the next level and create an environment that removes frustration, engages employees and inspires them to do great work.

Transformative Results

And in the process, Mazor says, they can drive real improvements in overall business results.

“There has been a longstanding sense on the part of leaders that there must be a link between a positive employee experience and customer satisfaction. And now, there is true evidence that demonstrates the linkage,” he says. “We noticed a very important finding in this regard in the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report 2019, which found that purpose-focused companies outperformed their S&P 500 peers by a factor of 8. How do you get to purpose for people working in an organization? It’s about creating that strong experience.”

As for the connection between employee experience and larger business performance? A recent MIT study showed companies with strong employee experiences have twice the innovation, double the satisfaction of customers, and 25 percent greater profitability.

Changing the Game

The key to enabling all of this? It all comes down to people-centric computing, in which you put the person at the center, make it easy for them to interact with the technology and information they need to do their jobs and remove some of the noise from their day so they can do the meaningful work they want and are actually paid to do.

And the key to doing this lies in technology such as intelligent digital workspaces. With such solutions, companies can shift the work dynamic from applications that frustrate to actions that matter by creating an experience that is:

Unified, serving up single-sign-on access to all the apps and content that an employee needs to be productive and to do engaging work, whether they are at the office, on the corporate network, or on their tablet at home, or on their smartphone on a train or a plane.

Secure, dynamically applying security policies and perhaps asking for a second layer of authentication, based on that employee’s behavior to ensure that company systems and information are safe without getting in the way of the user experience.

Intelligent, leveraging things like machine learning and simplified workflows to create a consumer-like experience where the employee is presented with the right information and the right task so that they can quickly access what they need to get the job done and move on, rather than having to log-in to multiple applications and go four layers deep.

Reliable, ensuring that applications, especially those used by front-line employees who are engaged with customers, are performing at their very best whether that employee is at a corporate office, or a remote location.

Real business value comes from using technology to empower people — to give them flexibility and choice rather than bogging them down. And companies that do so can effectively balance productivity and employee engagement to drive greater business results, customer experience and satisfaction, and improved profitability.

Tim Minahan is Executive Vice President of Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix.

Tim Minahan is the executive vice president, business strategy and chief marketing officer at Citrix, a leading provider of digital workspace solutions.

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