Why CIOs Should Focus on Employee Experience in the Coming Months

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ByClub Freelance

Published21 August 2020at15:50, updated on19 July 2022at17:34

Why CIOs Should Focus on Employee Experience in the Coming Months cover

The return from the holidays is a busy one this year for IT leaders. In addition to the traditional hurdles associated with reactivating latent projects and the sudden spike in activity, CIOs are having to deal with the disruption caused by Covid-19.

The business climate remains uncertain months into the pandemic. Organisations are still figuring out how to adapt to new customer demands and operational needs. IT departments face many challenges including budgetary cuts, improving infrastructure and strengthening their IT support team. Yet perhaps their biggest challenge is adjusting to new workplace dynamics.

So far, technology teams have had to adjust company workflows and processes to a remote workforce—a logistics and infrastructure problem in the first instance. But, with this first stage checked off their to-do list, CIOs should now direct their attention to a more nuanced yet vital aspect of workforce management: improving employee experience.

Why employee experience

Far from being a new concept, employee experience had been quickly gaining traction over the past years as an area of focus for businesses. To the point that 84% of respondents to a 2019 survey by Deloitte saw it as an important issue. Over a quarter of organisations identified employee experience as one of the three most urgent issues they were facing for the year.

The reasoning behind this much concern is quite simple: happy employees are more productive employees.

MIT research shows that companies leading the charge in employee experience reap incredible business benefits as a result of it. Organisations with the best employee experiences innovate twice as much, achieve double the customer satisfaction, and have 25% higher profits than their less employee-friendly counterparts.  

Yet despite being a key factor for business success, only 9% of Deloitte’s survey respondents considered that their company was fully ready to tackle the issue. It is, therefore, a major priority for today’s organisations – one that CIOs should make their own.

It’s about technology

Whereas, in the past, improvements to employee experience had mainly come from HR departments—in the form of perks or company activities—technology’s role in the process keeps on growing in importance. Years ago, it was digitalisation that improved employees’ lives, speeding up paperwork and other tasks. Then came cloud-based collaboration tools.

But while cloud infrastructure remains key to enhancing employee experience, the circumstances brought about by the current crisis calls for a more expansive and diverse use of technology. It is not only team collaboration and process optimisation that IT leaders need to worry about this time around. The lack of direct human contact is alienating employees and rarefying company cultures. Strengthening social bonds and ensuring mental and physical health is now more important than ever.

There are already many technological tools aimed at addressing these issues. Microsoft 365, for example, has an analytics function that provides users with insights about the way they work—hours of activity, etc.–and advises them on how to maintain a healthy work-life balance: something that is particularly difficult for those working from home.    

Other companies are coming up with solutions as they go. SAP, for instance, has created a series of solutions to foster socializing between remote workers who miss office interactions. These include a tinder-like app that pairs up remote co-workers for a virtual lunch.  

CIOs should also consider implementing solutions that are more directly related to health. Mental health counselling is now available through many online portals, and some companies are starting to offer memberships to their employees. Others are implementing wellness programs that reward employees for exercising and staying active – all through fitness trackers and dedicated corporate apps.

Taking concrete steps and committing to it

IT leaders are perfectly positioned to spearhead the new age of employee experience. The CIO’s role has grown considerably as a result of the pandemic. Becoming that of one of the top decision-makers in the executive team. Now, the potential that technology has for delivering a better employee experience puts the IT department at the wheel once again.    

But no significant improvements are going to be achieved if concrete steps are not taken and commitments are not made.

These kinds of initiatives can often be downgraded to secondary priorities during hectic and busy times, with the best IT talent being directed to other projects. For employee experience to really improve, CIOs need to make it an absolute priority and devote some of their best resources to the task. They should also work very closely with HR in the process, conducting a thorough audit of employee satisfaction and needs via a survey or even a (virtual) focus group.

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By Club Freelance

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