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Is Your Employee Experience Broken?

A recent Citrix survey that highlighted the importance of empowering employees to help improve company productivity and business outcomes also showed how crucial it is for companies to focus on providing a superior employee experience to successfully attract and retain the right talent.

TecHRseries spoke with  Donna Kimmel, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Citrix about this research and it’s top findings.

Catch the excerpts:

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Please tell us about the theme of the recent Citrix survey on Employee Experience with Quartz. What were some of the key findings that you’d like to share with us?

I think what’s most compelling about this research is that it shows the increasingly important role that technology and flexible work arrangements play in shaping the employee experience today and the positive impact they can have on engagement, productivity and business results.

Modern employees want – and expect – control over when, where and how they work. And what the Quartz survey makes clear is that they see digital technology along with new, more flexible work arrangements as a way to get it.

For the last decade, IT has steadily put in place technologies it thought would streamline entire functions and fuel collaboration. But they’ve actually had the opposite effect.

Read More: 10 HR Tech Tools that Can Help you Boost your Talent Acquisition Process

Employees today deal with as many as 11 different apps a day to get their work done. And in most cases, they only make work more complicated. The average employee spends almost 10 hours a week just searching for the information they need to do their jobs. And managers waste 25 percent of theirs on routine, administrative tasks. They are frustrated and disengaged as a result.

When it comes to technology at work, three out of four people polled by Quartz said they just want applications that eliminate friction and automate the menial tasks that dominate their days so they can focus on the meaningful work they were hired and want to do.  In other words, people don’t want to spend their time submitting purchase orders, filing expenses or searching for information. They want to be creative and innovative and use their special skills to deliver value. And 90 percent indicated that if they had access to such technology, they would be more productive.

When asked to rank factors in terms of their ability to create a workplace environment that allows them to perform at their best in order of importance, flexible work arrangements like remote work came in third, just behind salary and leadership and ahead of access to effective technology. And more than 75 percent said that greater flexibility with their work schedule would help them innovate and be more creative.

Several recent statistics have indicated that more and more of the workforce is opening up to the idea of remote work options – can you talk about some of the best ways for technology companies to manage how they run their globally distributed teams and remote workforce more easily?

The future of work continues to stress the need for a distributed workforce and the need to be able to tap pools of talent, no matter their location. And it’s essential to provide a digital work space that has all of the tools and data a person needs, a physical work space that fits individual work styles, and a vibrant culture with a sense of trust and community.

There are a lot of best practices out there, but there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It all comes down to designing solutions for the context of the organization. Every company is different has unique requirements and needs. And it’s really about behaviors and strong, two-way conversations between employees and managers about what works and doesn’t work.

To minimize the challenges inherent in flexible models where workers are remote, I recommend using video conferencing for any meeting or call. There’s no substitute for face-to-face communication. And with video conferencing, you’re able to connect visually and pick up on non-verbal cues. Additionally, when scheduling meetings, I always encourage folks to be respectful of time zones to make sure that one time zone is not always being disadvantaged.

Could you also draw light on how tech companies can pay attention to upskilling their remote workforce with the right use of HR Tech?

 When it comes to recruiting talent, most organizations spend the bulk of their time on bringing in expertise from the outside. But as the battle for external talent rages on, they must cultivate talent from within the organization as well. Talent mobility and automatic upskilling will become increasingly important for HR professionals, as will thinking about how to create the right opportunities for employees to reskill and take on new challenges.

Employees should be encouraged to build new skills and capabilities such as critical thinking, judgment, innovation, collaboration and agility that are seemingly softer, but endure because they enable us to grow and learn in times of uncertainty and unprecedented change. And they should be given access to high-quality learning programs and platforms that enable them to learn in whatever way is most effective for them. HR will need to be creative in designing such programs to transform workplace training as we know it. For example, they might offer full-day workshops where employees at all  levels are encouraged to prepare a leader-engaged dialog – of a “LED Talk” – on a topic in which they have expertise and act as teachers, mentors, and coaches in sharing it with their peers. And they may leverage online learning-management platforms that deliver content in a variety of formats, including self-paced videos and mobile-optimized micro learning breaks. In doing so, companies will find their employees are happier, more engaged, and more productive.

Can you talk about some of the best employee experience practices of leading tech companies? 

Employee experience should be viewed as every interaction an employee has with the company from the moment they are interested in a role and onward—that’s the entire employee lifespan, from pre-hire to retire.  It’s important to make sure you create a positive, inclusive environment centered on your company values where people feel free to be themselves and contribute authentically. In simple terms, this comes down to creating an ecosystem that enables engagement, excitement, motivation, productivity and employees happily and passionately contributing because all of this ultimately results in thrilled customers and booming business.

When employees have a positive experience at work they carry that with them. It isn’t just true for customer facing jobs where if the employee is cheery, the customer picks up on that energy, it’s true for all roles in the company. When employees are more productive it shows. They are more creative, they innovate, they are more efficient and can channel saved time into amazing output. And this is manifested in better products, better service and better solutions.

Read More: Employee Burnout Can Be Fatal – for Employees and Companies Alike

With the advancements of AI and Automation, what significant changes in the workplace do you envision in the years to come? How will the role of HR teams change? How can HR tech help companies stay abreast and updated with the dynamics?

When it comes to the future of work, a few trends are shaping up to drive a level of change that we haven’t seen since the days of Henry Ford.  The first is flexible work. Over the next decade,   it’s predicted that there will be a global shortage of 85.2 million workers. Good people are no  doubt hard to find. But they are out there. They just may not be near a traditional office – or want to work in one. To attract the talent they need, companies need to think outside the proverbial box and enable flexible models, including gig, contract and remote work.

The Centre of Economics and Business Research (Cebr) recently conducted an online survey of more than 2,500 US knowledge workers to determine the value in doing so. And it found that companies can go where the talent is and bring people on board as needed to unlock innovation, engage customers, and move their business forward. Talent such as the “home force,” or people who left jobs to care for children or aging relatives. Or Baby Boomers who retired, but would be willing to work a few hours a week. And they might even get part-time, contract and gig workers to take on more hours. Motivated by such benefits, many companies will begin to shift away from traditional models and embrace flexible work.

The second is digital workspaces. There’s a lot of digital noise in the workplace today that keeps employees from getting things done. Research firm IDC says we are interrupted every two minutes, on average by an email, a text, a Slack or some other notification. We are constantly moving between applications, documents and meetings. Digital workspace solutions can help to quiet the noise and optimize the work day for every employee by organizing, guiding and  automating work in an intelligent and personal way that enables them to focus on doing what they do – and do it best. And I think we’ll see them take off.

The third is this notion of people-centric design where companies will focus on getting the best out of employees – not the most – by empowering them with technology that removes the complexity from work and allows them to use their special skills to master their crafts and create real value for the business.

What does all this mean for HR? A much closer partnership with IT to really transform the employee experience. Employee experience is all about creating the right environment that inspires people to do great work. And that isn’t just HR’s responsibility. Total rewards certainly play an important role.  You need to provide learning and development opportunities, foster diversity and inclusion, align with causes and enable people to work with purpose. But you 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. There are plenty of productivity issues that get in our way. We need technology that is helpful to us. That frees us to drive innovation and collaborate.

To conclude, would you like to offer any tip(s) on other innovative tips on organizational development/People Management to our readers?

Even as technological innovation transforms business and the way it’s done, the success of an organization still depends on the people whose passion, insight and talent drive it forward.Smart companies understand this and put people first in order to attract, retain, develop and reward top talent.

They work to create the right environment that inspires people to do great work. In addition to a people-centric culture, values, programs & practices, they design physical spaces with people in mind and take into account the fact that the workforce is comprised of five different generations, and they each work in different ways. Some want open floor plans and spaces where they can collaborate. Others prefer quiet rooms and old-school cubicles where they can work in solitude. HR, facilities and IT will team to create purposeful spaces that inspire and empower all of them to do their best work.

They also provide learning and development opportunities, foster diversity and inclusion and align with causes to enable people to be their best.

Read More: Role of 5G in Workplace Collaboration

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