As companies across all industries grapple with the dual problem of finding talent for their open positions – and retaining the talent they already have – a greater emphasis is being put on the experience each employee has within an organization.
It used to be that the employee experience amounted to “come in every day and do your work and you’ll get paid.” There was very little consideration for employees or whether they enjoyed the work they were being asked to do, or the environment in which they did it. Work was work – and it mattered little if you were happy while doing it, as long as you were accomplishing something.
Naturally, and to the benefit of all, this evolved through the years. Today’s employers and employees understand that a happy, engaged workforce is a productive workforce – and one that remains loyal and sticks around, even in times of low unemployment.
Efforts to improve the employee end-user experience began with improving benefits – vacation, healthcare and leave time – and eventually saw the addition of benefits such as free food, fitness memberships, foosball tables and flex times. These were all aimed at improving the employee experience.
Employees today, however, have multiple things to worry about in their daily work. Technology has taken over every worker’s lives. In addition to its ever-increasing business uses, technology is used in the workplace to communicate with fellow employees, schedule meetings, request vacation time and more. There are high expectations among employees that technology works correctly, every time.
With the increasing pervasiveness – and complexity – of workplace technology, there are many more opportunities for that technology to go wrong. Or not work the way it should. When this happens, employees become frustrated and unproductive – and their digital experience at the workplace is an unpleasant one (not to mention that because of this, business operations are quickly disrupted).
If employees are unsatisfied with their digital experiences at the workplace – if their internet connection isn’t as fast as the one they have at home, or if they cannot attach large documents from their work email, for example – companies need to know about it. The individual IT and digital needs of employees must be recognized, understood and addressed if companies wish to have employees that report a positive workplace experience.
And that’s where an end-user experience manager like myself comes in. It is my responsibility to make sure employees are getting the digital support they need. But that doesn’t mean just responding to IT requests or complaints in a timely manner. A major part of being an end-user experience manager is changing the discussion from a reactive one (responding to an issue) to a proactive one (predicting a potential issue) to ensure the digital employee experience is top-notch.
It is my belief that IT teams need to put themselves “in the employee’s shoes” in order to create a strong digital employee experience. For years, IT has worked with the mindset that if something isn’t working, then it must be that the employees are doing something wrong – and all they need to do is to show employees how to do something again. This approach leads to frustration, and to employees either not contacting IT when there’s an issue, or being afraid to do so. It also gets a false positive about whether things are operating as intended.
To promote a positive employee experience, IT needs to not force IT on employees, or believe that all they need to do is “prove that it works” to the user. Instead, they must listen and learn from employees about why, for example, a simple task is taking too long, match what actual end users are saying with what they’re seeing on the IT side, and see things from the employees’ point-of-view. Then, use those dual sets of knowledge as a way to correct current problems, prevent future problems – and get employees feeling positive about their interactions with workplace technologies.
Employees deserve a strong, reliable digital experience. Recognizing this and taking steps to realize it will help with employee happiness, engagement, productivity and loyalty – something of critical importance in today’s job market.