We’ve all heard the age-old advice: keep the customer happy and business moves forward. This line of thinking has extended into the digital world, fostering a focus on user and customer experience in everything from gaming to online shopping. And, as with most trends, user experience has swiftly made its way into the office, and we can confidently say that 2018 is shaping up to be the year of employee experience – and it’s about time.

Not only do satisfied employees make for a better work culture, but they also improve the bottom line. According to a recent Aon Hewitt study, a five percent improvement in employee engagement leads to a three percent revenue increase.

Productive Employees are Happy Employees

So how can companies increase employees’ satisfaction and ultimately, happiness in the workplace?  It’s really about being productive. According to a Forrester report, what makes employees happiest is when they can make progress every day toward work they know is important.

The human resources (HR) organization, SHRM, says that “employee experience is the latest trend taking over the world of HR.” But employee experience is no longer the sole domain of HR, in fact the CIO and the employee’s digital experience is fast becoming the key determinant to the happiness quotient – or lack thereof.

As technology in the workplace becomes much more complex and pervasive, there are many more openings for computer issues to occur and cause employee frustration along with work disruption.

The reality is that employees are often not satisfied with their IT experiences at work and find them inferior to their digital personal lives. Companies who fail to understand the individual digital needs of their employees are squandering opportunities to have a more engaged, energized and productive workforce.

But how can CIOs help employees become more satisfied if they don’t fully understand what their frustrations and needs might be? When their only interactions with employees is when they call the service desk? Traditional surveys and technology maturity assessments, which usually have low response rates, are not the answer; nor are traditional Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) which often include irrelevant performance reports that don’t reflect the actual quality experienced by the user.

The Key Steps to Employee Satisfaction

There are three key steps CIOs can take to make sure they’re more attuned to the needs of employees, removing the barriers to productivity and doing their part to bring happiness to the workplace:

Measure:  It’s important to identify and measure end-user satisfaction and endpoint performance in a way that is easy and unobtrusive to the end-user. The ideal way is to ask targeted questions, to a specific person, at the right moment. For example, you can measure employee satisfaction of an installation of a new ERP module by targeting questions to all  employees using that module at a particular moment in time.  Another example is to measure the performance of your Skype for Business application by asking employees about their experience and correlating their feedback to network response times and application stability measured on their PCs. Measuring the real employee experience and satisfaction is critical for building Experience Level Agreements (XLAs, sometimes also abbreviated ELAs).

Improve: Once you’ve taken a lay of the land and understand what the major issues might be, you must quickly identify actions for continuous improvement, course correct and track progress in real-time. For example, you can revise your laptop renewal strategies with employee feedback; redesign the intranet portal to better address user needs; or give employees the tools they need to fix problems on their own. These actions ensure that XLAs are met.

Monitor: For IT departments serious about end-user satisfaction, they understand that it’s never a one and done proposition. They must continuously monitor satisfaction with devices and applications over time, identify environmental changes and their impact on satisfaction, and look for changes in satisfaction levels after major upgrades or installations.

Employee satisfaction is no longer a secondary activity for businesses, but has become the centerpiece to business growth.  Understanding what IT can do to improve the employee digital experience and create happy users almost always leads to happy customers, and ultimately happy corporate boards who can watch revenue grow as a result.  Researchers, philosophers and others were surely on to something when they said happiness is contagious – just look at today’s end-user driven enterprise.