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CIOs Share Their Digital Transformation & Employee Retention Strategies

September 24, 2021 Leadership
By Dom Nicastro

Employee retention is a hot topic for workplace leaders, including human resources. Nearly half of employees plan to leave their jobs this year, according to research from Mercer.

It’s also a critical time for those who manage digital workplaces and are responsible for crafting employee digital experiences. According to the State of the Digital Workplace report, compiled by the research group of our parent company Simpler Media Group, digital workplace leaders remain challenged by budget constraints (30%), limitations of platforms/tech (19%), competing initiatives or departments (18%) and organizational culture (18%).

“For us, maintaining a modern and secure digital workplace is key, first and foremost, to ensure business continuity,” said Bhushan Ivaturi, senior vice president and chief information officer for $40-plus-billion, 11,000-employee Enbridge, a North American energy delivery company. “We need to keep the energy moving. But it’s also key to keeping our employees engaged.”

Digital Workplace Revitalized

Headshot of Bhushan Ivaturi
Bhushan Ivaturi

More teams are using measurement to improve and plan the digital workplace, particularly accelerating the use of employee engagement and business case-related numbers, according to findings from the State of the Digital Workplace report.

What are CIOs like Ivaturi doing to boost employee engagement? Before COVID, Ivaturi said the company modernized its office systems to ensure its workforce can work from anywhere, anytime. It progressed its digital workplace program with a full suite of modern collaboration tools that included improved security.

“Since the launch of our digital workplace, we have seen a significant increase in the number and cadence of collaborative communications, from structured all-company meetings to one-on-one check-in meetings to after-hours team-building events,” Ivaturi said. “This connectivity has helped keep employees informed and engaged while navigating some very uncertain and challenging times.”

Related Article: HR Leaders Share Their Employee Retention Strategies Amid the Great Resignation

Flexible-Work Framework

Enbridge’s flexible work framework guides the business in determining the right balance for operations, according to Ivaturi. It’s continuing to enhance technological capabilities to support flexible work.

For example, it implemented an “inter-operating” capability which enables several members of a team gather in-person at one site, such as in a conference room; the rest of the team members join in over their preferred method of connectivity be it in a videoconferencing room, at a remote field site or using Microsoft Teams video from a phone or laptop.

“Such capabilities,” Ivaturi said, “will also reduce the burden of travel for employees and allow better collaboration than over the phone where those listening in often had difficulty fully participating. Our digital workplace and flexible work framework helps us widen our reach and increases collaboration — and that is key to competing for the best talent and keeping our employees engaged.”

Collaboration and Self-Service Enablement

Abha Dogra headshot
Abha Dogra

Abha Dogra, SVP of digital technology and CIO of $31-plus-billion, Schneider Electric North America, said enterprises are at an inflection point with everything being rapidly digitized. The past 18 months have particularly accelerated the momentum behind digitalization, she added.

Driven by her company’s vision of sustainability and efficiency for customers and employees, top themes in her mind when it comes to employee engagement include:

  • Facilitating collaboration in an increasingly virtual world for end-to-end enjoyable experience.
  • Self-service enablement for both customers and employees.
  • Empowerment of teams for vision-based decision making.
  • Optimizing mobile digital touch points.
  • Creating strong digital security for the entire workforce.

“Schneider Electric is very focused on employee experience. It is a major theme of our overall culture as an organization,” Dogra said. “We are always focused on introducing market-driven innovations to enhance our employees’ experience. After the pandemic, we introduced a variety of new ways of working, which included a digital workplace transformation.”

Related Article: Riding the Employee Engagement Rollercoaster

Open Talent Market (OTM) Platform

Schneider Electric launched an internal talent marketplace that uses AI to match talent to open opportunities throughout the company’s 142,000-strong workforce, creating new opportunities for employees while “simultaneously promoting the freedom to grow, fail, learn and innovate,” according to Dogra. “We see this platform as a great opportunity to enhance our employees’ experience by allowing for the internal growth of our talent and giving all employees the chance to explore new avenues within their career paths.”

Globally, the company’s seen more than 60,000 hours of productivity generated by employees participating in projects supporting others in the organization, and it’s created 1,400 mentorship matches in North America, according to Dogra.

Mobile and Societal Advancements

Schneider Electric is at an exciting point in its digital workplace transformation, according to Dogra, and sees acceleration in the following ways:

  • Technological innovation from mobile capabilities, to machine learning, to incorporating bots as the new digital workforce.
  • The societal evolution of how humans now interact: from text to more visual, which has changed expectations of the ways teams go about communicating daily.
  • The new type of workforce stemming from the shift to the Gig Economy, which led to new kinds of digital tools that let teams work from almost anywhere, at almost any time, and in turn helps attract the best talent.

“I am incredibly excited to explore new digital terrains and be part of this revolutionary phase of digital transformation at Schneider Electric,” Dogra said.

Data, Analytics and Decision-Making

Enbridge's Ivaturi said his teams are exploring ways to use data and analytics to guide support and decision-making in how they evolve technical platforms. For example, since April 2020, they have seen an increased number of meetings.

“We know if left unmanaged, this may overwhelm employees and slow down decision-making,” he said. “This insight can help us to learn how to prevent burnout and improve the employee experience. That is why we are enabling and encouraging our team leaders with suggestions to experiment with shorter meetings while still creating a sense of community, helping to boost morale and keep employees engaged while continuing to work remotely.”

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