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Do Your CIO and CHRO Elevate Employee Experience?

August 30, 2021 Employee Experience
scott clark
By Scott Clark

The employee experience is intricately connected to many aspects of modern business, from important internal measures such as employee productivity and satisfaction and critical external initiatives such as customer experience.

In the modern organization, and especially in the remote and hybrid working world of work, the chief information officer (CIO) and chief human resource officer (CHRO) both play key roles in the experience employees have each day. Is your company's CIO working with your CHRO to elevate the employee experience?

With the Delta and Lambda variants driving an increase in COVID-19 cases, what many thought was the end of the pandemic now only seems to be a short lull rather than a ceasefire, and those who thought that the remote or hybrid workplace were going away are having to recommit to flexibility and the practices associated with living with a dangerous virus.

Perhaps, some employers are thinking, it’s not time to go back to the office just yet. It's what many employees are thinking, too.

Employee Experience in the Spotlight as Anxiety Rises

Many employees are worried. Not a single person in a recent Limeade poll conducted with almost 4,500 employees in France, Germany, the UK, Australia and the US indicated they weren't anxious about the thought of returning to the office.

The mental and emotional health of employees will continue to be important, and if employees are required to return to the office, employers will have to keep the health and safety of employees and customers alike as a top priority. The employee experience affects the customer experience in a “trickle down” manner, so the efforts a company makes to improve the experience of one will help determine the other.  

"Elevating the employee experience is key to removing friction and improving the customer experience and attracting and retaining talent,” said Chris Nardecchia, senior vice president and chief digital and information officer at Rockwell Automation, a Milwaukee, Wis.-based provider of industrial automation and IT. “Furthermore, there is an inherent link between culture and digital transformation, whereas culture can be an accelerator to digital transformation, including redefining the employee experience and shaping new behaviors." 

Related Article: How the CIO and CHRO Will Rethink Employee Experience Together

The CIO and CHRO Role in Employee Experience

Traditionally, the CIO oversees an organization's information technology needs, engages in strategic planning of business growth objectives, oversees the development of customer service platforms, manages IT and development team employees, establishes IT policies and standards, and handles information risk management. Today, the CIO also plays a role in improving and enhancing the overall employee experience. 

Given the nature of the hybrid workforce, the CIO must now plan for the IT needs of remote and in-office employees. This shift placed an increased demand on the CIO to ensure that all employees have the technology and hardware to effectively perform their job no matter where they are. Employee engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction are all affected by the decisions the CIO makes.  

The CHRO creates and executes the company's human resource strategy, which itself supports the business plan. The key elements include talent and change management, organizational and performance management, employee onboarding, training and development, as well as employee compensation. Given the focus on people, the CHRO is also an employee advocate and therefore one of the key players when it comes to crafting an exceptional employee experience. 

While it may be the IT's job to obtain the technology, software and hardware used throughout the company, it's the CHRO's job to ensure employees have the skills, tools, and work environment they need to perform. It falls on the CHRO to see that employees develop and improve their skills through continued learning, and that career progression keeps employees engaged and satisfied.

Related Article: The Connection Between Learning and Employee Experience

CIOs and CHROs Working Together

When the two roles work together, it increases their ability to improve the employee experience and the organizational culture. "Close partnership between CIOs and CHROs aligns technology, data and business process design and workflows to help re-define desired work behaviors which in turn re-shapes the culture," said Nardecchia.

There are many ways partnership enhances as well as redefines the employee experience, Nardecchia said, including through:

  • Employee engagement surveys.
  • Joint employee journey mapping.
  • Streamlined workflows to improve engagement.
  • New learning and development approaches.
  • Collaboration tools and advances in no-code/low-code environments.
  • Using data from employee profiles and career planning for talent management and career development.
  • Re-designing workspaces and remote options for the future of work.
  • Personalization through understanding data and preferences to enhance experience and celebrate milestones such as anniversaries, birthdays and special events.
  • Providing innovation challenges and hackathons to engage internally and externally and learn new skills.

Employee engagement is literally the sum of the day-to-day experiences with a company, said Antonio Vazquez, CIO at Bizagi, a Washington, DC-based automation software provider.

“As many of those interactions today are supported by technology, CIOs and CHROs should work hand-in-hand to design the EX strategy,” Vazquez said. “EX is impacted both in the workplace (onboarding, leaves, performance appraisal, learning, self-service for routine questions, digital workplace) and out of the workplace (work-from-anywhere capabilities).”

Related Article: Employee Experience Isn't Just HR's Job — It's IT's Job, Too

Employee Experience Is a Management Discipline

But it's not just about technology. A company’s employee experience initiatives must be incorporated into its daily management practices, rather than as a one-off event. As such, leaders and managers should use each and every interaction with employees as an opportunity to engage, Vazquez said.

“Technology providers are now leveraging artificial intelligence to anticipate patterns and propose actions," he said. "Giving access to those technological resources is also a key element. Also, as personalization becomes a powerful tool for EX, HR teams should incorporate those capabilities in their processes. Technology providers are also leveraging platforms to create a more engaging experience.”

Employee experience initiatives are iterative and ongoing, and close monitoring and evaluation allows companies to make adjustments and improve processes and approaches.

“Monitoring employee experience becomes a key enabler to take a data-driven approach to evaluate the success of your EX initiatives,” Vazquez said. “Continuous information, real-time reporting and AI are core contributors.”

Many companies now have a person whose job is specifically to develop and implement an employee experience program. Titles can vary but they include chief people officer, employee experience officer, or employee experience manager. That person works in conjunction with the CHRO and CIO to ensure employees are engaged, productive and personally satisfied. 

Although employee experience has always been important, in today’s people-centric world, companies should re-evaluate their employee experience initiative. The CIO and CHRO should work together to ensure every employee has the tools and technology to be productive and engaged, and the training and opportunity to progress their career within the company. The combination of those two improves the employee journey from the beginning to the end.


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