Focal Shift

In recent years, IT professionals have been progressively realizing that successful IT strategies actually depend on a simple question: who? Indeed, for once, instead of asking “what” or “how much,” they are shifting their focus towards the people ultimately impacted by IT decision making – their employees.

In today’s age of constant digital workplace transformation, it is no surprise that IT professionals play a critical role in enabling EX. After all, as the gatekeepers of workplace technologies, they have the most direct influence on employees’ daily experiences.

Experience and Engagement

Forrester defines EX as “the sum of employees’ perceptions of their experiences working within [an] organization”, referring to the routine sentiments employees have when interacting with their company’s colleagues, processes, customers, technology…etc. Evidently, promoting good EX has huge business value, making for happier employees ultimately enhancing employees’ experience. For instance, a study from the Journal of Applied Psychology revealed that engaged employees not only deliver 81% higher customer satisfaction, but also cut turnover by half. Inversely, neglecting EX has dire consequences. A different study from the same journal revealed that for every 1% turnover, organizations are 40% less productive and 26% less profitable. EX is therefore not just a potential improvement, but rather a vital business activity to maintain.

To truly benefit from it, long-running Forrester research and analysis has shown that great workplace experience must be shaped through five main organizational components:

  1. Culture: the alignment of an organization’s values and norms with that of its employees
  2. Technology: workplace productivity tools at employees’ disposal
  3. Expectations: what is expected of employees from peers and management
  4. Empowerment: employees’ ability to choose the way they work best (e.g. autonomy)
  5. Recognition: receiving adequate recognition for work delivered

With technology as the cornerstone of everyday experiences and as employees’ most valued productivity enabler, it comes to no surprise that IT can significantly contribute to employee engagement by optimizing EX through employee-focused strategies.

Happiness and Flow

Increasingly, modern research in organizational behavior is teaching us that traditional frameworks in employee workplace motivation is wrong. Forrester, from their own comprehensive research, has derived two main insights:

  1. “What makes people most engaged at work isn’t pay-for-performance, perk, or pizza. It’s productivity”
    The top workplace engagement driver is employees’ ability to be productive in their routine and contribute to something meaningful. When productivity is high, employee emotion and motivation is enhanced; conversely, encountering roadblocks seriously impeded on sentiments and engagement.
  2. “The key to performance in knowledge work is the ability to self-regulate our attention and stay focused on the task at hand”
    Simply put, sustaining productivity and long-term focus depends on employees’ ability to avoid distractions and have the right tools to prevent roadblocks and frustrations.

Employees working under these two conditions can then potentially enter a state of “flow” (a term coined by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975), best described as the state where one starts working after lunch only to suddenly lift their head and discover it’s already time to go home. While in a state of flow, employees are fully engaged and highly productive.

Today, IT departments hold a tremendous role in facilitating flow in the workplace by providing the best EX possible. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. While the road to flow is paved by clear goals, aligned values and proper productivity tools, the opposing path to burnout is lined with constant interruptions, structural changes or slow processes and apps do not perform well.

While legacy workplaces neglect to acknowledge routine disruptions, the ideal workplace strives to leverage its digital capabilities to enable EX and, in turn, employee flow.

Flow in typical vs ideal workplace

IT’s new role: business-enablement from EX optimization

In today’s fast-paced digital workplaces, IT departments are therefore faced with a new business case: productivity enablement from experience management. Indeed, from great workplace experience stems greater satisfaction, engagement and productivity. With that in mind, modern IT departments need to remember two essential points:

  1. IT’s main mission should be to foster employee productivity through good EX.
  2. Digital workplaces are about more than devices and apps; they must include tools for continuous productivity improvement.

A first step in this direction is a shift in mentality and perception of IT departments: they should be elevated from traditional cost-reduction centers to essential top-line revenue growth enablers through their EX-optimizing capabilities. 2019 should be the year that employee experience is at the centerpiece of any digital workspace strategy to deliver better business value.

Click here to watch the full webinar featuring Forrester Research Analyst, Andrew Hewitt and Vincent Bieri, Nexthink Co-founder.