What Happens When Executives Don't Value Employee Experience?
Recent research by automation company Ivanti found that nearly half (49%) of remote and hybrid employees are frustrated by the technology and tools their employer gives them to do their jobs. Some employers may be weary of investing in new technology in the current economy — particularly considering the high turnover in the job market — but it turns out, not reacting to this news can end up being more costly.
Case in point: 64% of those surveyed believe that interaction with technical tools directly impacts workforce morale, and 26% said they may quit their jobs because they lack suitable technology. Two-thirds said they believe they could be more productive if only they had access to better solutions.
These are considerable missed opportunities for companies to boost productivity, improve the culture and work environment, and retain the skills they need today and into the future.
The situation’s made even more fraught by an inevitable lack of consensus regarding business technology. Executives, IT managers and employees all have different, often conflicting, opinions about the future of work technology and its role in hybrid and remote work, between the technology solutions envisioned by executives and the tools favored by workers.
What Happens When Productivity Outmatches Employee Experience
For all the ink spilled over the importance of a positive workplace culture and employee experience to drive productivity, 62% of executives said they prioritize profitability over employee satisfaction, according to Ivanti.
The majority of C-level executives surveyed believe employees must work from the office to be productive. It's worth noting that three-quarters of these executives say they’ve become more productive since the start of the pandemic, which highlights another disconnect between what corporate leaders have experienced themselves and what they believe employees need to be productive.
This view has wide-ranging ramifications: As employee experience drops lower on the C-suite agenda, it also gets deprioritized on IT leaders' list. After all, it's only normal for department heads to align their priorities to that of the top boss. Only 21% of IT leaders said they consider the end-user experience to be their main priority when selecting new tools.
Yet, having the right technology is key to making remote work work, so what happens when IT doesn't prioritize employee experience is a trickle-down effect affecting employees' ability to carry out their duties efficiently, due to lack of tools and support. Like a vicious circle, this feeds into the belief that it's actually remote work that is impeding productivity rather than inadequate technology.
“Ensuring positive employee digital experiences is the new cornerstone of modern business IT management,” said Steve Brasen, research director at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo. “Understanding [digital employee experience] requirements is the key to adapting related technologies and practices that will support each organization’s unique environment."
Related Article: Improve Productivity by Focusing on Employee Needs
The Challenge for IT Teams
One of the biggest challenges facing IT today is the need to enable a seamless end-user experience while maintaining system security. The growing variety of devices and networks used by remote and hybrid workers has greatly expanded the inventory of assets IT teams need to manage, and less than half of IT professionals (47%) said their organization has full visibility into every device that attempts to access their network.
“Maintaining a secure environment and focusing on the digital employee experience are two inseparable elements of any digital transformation,” said Ivanti CEO Jeff Abbott.
Organizations where investments in technology solutions are scarce — or nonexistent — may be at higher risk of non-compliance from all levels of the organization. Considering some 32% of tech professionals still use spreadsheets to tackle the job, it's not too surprising to see that 42% of employees surveyed by Ivanti have spent their own money to purchase products that better align with their needs.
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But this is a serious security concern. And one that becomes even more complex when members of the C-suite pressure IT to bypass security measures, often for convenience. Half of the executives surveyed said they had asked their IT team to bypass one or more security measures in the past year.
In truth, Ivanti’s findings shouldn't be surprising to anyone. Last year, WorkForce Software revealed dramatically different perspectives between employers and workers on the quality of the employee experience during the pandemic. Across the board, WorkForce found significant gaps between what organizations believed they were providing and what employees actually experienced.
Related Article: A Zero Trust Security Primer
Remote Hiring to the Rescue?
The labor shortage, of course, hasn't helped. Now combined with rising wages, especially in the tech industry, today's labor market is causing many organizations to struggle to find ways to get it all done.
“In the war for talent, a key differentiator for organizations is providing an exceptional and secure digital experience," said Abbott. "We believe that organizations not prioritizing how their employees experience technology is a contributing factor for the Great Resignation.”
In recent years, IT workers have been going flat out to keep their workforces up and running. To address understaffing, a number of organizations are taking advantage of new work models to seek out IT hires in other countries, particularly across Latin America. Bloomberg calls it a “logical extension” of working from home and efforts by many workers to leave metropolitan centers like New York and San Francisco. Plus, hiring from overseas isn’t such a stretch now that employers are getting used to remote work.
“If I’m hiring a person in Cleveland, why not just hire a person in Bogota?” said Josh Brenner, CEO of the job marketplace Hired.
Even when the the labor market eases, the idea of hiring overseas talent may continue to be attractive. According to consulting firm Korn Ferry, the U.S. tech industry may be short 1.2 million specialized workers by 2030.
What's clear is that technology now sits at the heart of the work experience, and organizations that understand its importance and listen to employees to improve their day-to-day stand to gain on several fronts.
“How employees interact with technology, and their satisfaction with that experience, directly relates to the success and value they deliver to the organization,” said Abbott. “The digital employee experience should be a board-level priority.”