The Employee Experience is Broken, But IT can Fix It

Simplified access to technology is the missing piece of puzzle. Companies that put it in place can drive greater engagement, productivity and business results

It used to be that competitive salaries, benefits and career development initiatives were enough to find and keep talent. Today, these things are table stakes. To compete and win in the raging battle for talent, companies need to up their game and give employees what they really want: a simple and flexible way to get work done. Because right now, it’s simply too complex.

Technology is a key driver of the modern employee experience. And according to The Experience of Work: The Role of Technology in Productivity and Engagement, new research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, companies that use it to provide employees with tools that make work more efficient and meaningful can deliver a superior one, and in the process, not only attract the people they need, but keep them engaged and productive and improve their business results.

Better Employee Experience = Better Business Results

Across geographies and industry sectors, many companies are recognizing — and proving — that a better employee experience can lead directly to better business results.

Of the more than 1,100 senior executives across eight countries and industry sectors who participated in The Experience of Work survey,

· 36 percent cited enhancing customer experience and satisfaction as the top reason for improving employee experience, just behind productivity and employee engagement (40 percent)

· 31 percent listed profitability, and

· 30 percent called out talent retention.

Keep Calm and Simple On

Employees today expect things at work to be as easy as they are in their personal lives — particularly millennials and Generation Z who now account for the bulk of the global workforce. At home, they can book a flight in less than six clicks. At work, they need to navigate through multiple apps and drill six levels in to get the same thing done. And they’re over it.

Employees also want the freedom to work when, where and how they want.

· According to a recent study, 70 percent of knowledge workers living in urban locales say they would move to outlying areas and work remote if they could do their jobs at the same level.

· And gig workers are expected to account for more than half the workforce by 2027.

To attract and retain talent in today’s tight labor market, companies need to rethink what “workplace” means and create digital environments that accommodate these new work models and deliver the tools and information employees need to do their best work in a simple, unified way.

Eliminate the Noise

Today’s workplace is filled with distractions and complexity that frustrate employees and prevent real work from getting done. Within a typical company, the average employee needs to navigate four or more applications just to execute a single business process. And accessing them requires managing multiple passwords and interfaces. All of this takes time and focus away from people doing what they want — and are paid to do.

Case in point: employees spend more than 25 percent of their time searching for the information they need to do their jobs, and managers more than half of their time executing routine tasks. They’re frustrated and disengaged as a result. And it’s killing business. Gallup estimates that distraction and disengagement in the workforce is costing global businesses $7 trillion in lost productivity, turnover, and worker frustration.

Look Beyond Speeds and Feeds and Focus on Employee Needs

It’s a problem IT has largely created by steadily implementing technology they thought would simplify work that has only made it more difficult. But participants in EIU study say that with the right solutions and strategy, it can be fixed.

“Employees are, after all, consumers,” said Florian Wies, regional lead, country integration, Merck. “Delivering digital tools in a way that’s intuitive and familiar for them will improve their experience.”

Among the key enablers of strong employee engagement identified in The Experience of Work:

· Ease of access to information required to get work done (47 percent)

· Applications that are simple to use (39 percent)

· A consumer-like user experience (33 percent)

· Ability to work from anywhere (43 percent)

· Choice of devices (32 percent)

Two Heads are Better than One

Employee experience is all about creating the right environment that inspires people to do great work. And this isn’t just the responsibility of human resources. Total rewards certainly play an important role. But companies also need to remove frustration and drive productivity in a way that enables people to perform at their best. And this is where IT comes in.

Of the IT executives polled as part of The Experience of Work, 74 percent and 75 percent, respectively, feel personally responsible for improving the employee experience. And this promises to change the game.

Create a Liquid Enterprise

Technology is resetting the boundaries for both where and how work gets done, and traditional models won’t cut it for long. The future of work is dynamic and decentralized. And businesses that can seamlessly shift their people and digital resources across workflows and put the right insights and information at employees’ fingertips can redefine what work means and engage their employees — and ultimately, their customers — in new ways that enhance their success.

Tim Minahan is Executive Vice President of Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer at Citrix, a leading provider of digital workspace solutions.

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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