The Employee Experience is Broken, But IT can Fix It

New research identifies simplified access to technology as 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. 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, research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) with sponsorship from Citrix Systems, Inc., companies that use it to support new models for work and provide employees with tools that make it 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.

“There are plenty of productivity issues that get in our way”

“People today want the freedom to work when, where and how they want. And they expect things to be as easy as they are in their personal lives,” said Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Strategy and Chief Marketing Officer, Citrix. “To attract and retain talent in today’s tight labor market, companies need to rethink what ‘workplace’ means and create digital environments that accommodate traditional, remote and gig workers and deliver the tools, and information they need to do their best work in a simple, unified way.”

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 improved business results.

According to Arthur Mazor, principal partner and HR transformation global practice leader at Deloitte, “Many organizations now see the ultimate objective of enhancing workforce experience to be the creation of new value in the market, by improving the customer experience and creating new opportunities for growth.”

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

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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. 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.”

Look Beyond Speeds and Feeds and Focus on Employee Needs

Among the key enablers of strong employee engagement identified by respondents to 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)

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Two Heads are Better than One

They say it takes a village to raise a child. And when it comes to creating a world-class employee experience, the IT and HR executives polled as part of The Experience of Work share this sentiment, with nearly identical numbers of each (74 percent and 75 percent, respectively) indicating they feel personally responsible for improving it.

According to Donna Kimmel, Chief People Officer at Citrix, this promises to change the game. “Employee experience is all about creating the right environment that inspires people to do great work. And that isn’t just HR’s responsibility,” she said. “Total rewards certainly play an important role. 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,” Kimmel adds. “We need technology that is helpful to us. That frees us to drive innovation and collaborate.”

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,” Minahan said. “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.”

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