CIOs can embrace a digital-first culture to improve employee experience

HR and IT could work better together to improve the digital experience of employees, shows a new study

CIOs can embrace a digital-first culture to improve employee experience - CIO&Leader

Companies that provide a positive digital employee experience are more likely to be able to attract and retain top talent, according to a new VMware study that surveyed 6,400 employees, HR professionals, and CIO/IT specialists across 19 countries. Conducted by global research firm Vanson Bourne, the survey finds a startling gap between what IT thinks it is delivering and what employees say they are.

This raises several questions, such as, how much does employee digital experience matter, who in the organization is responsible for digital experience, how well are organizations delivering it, and what can be done to improve it.

By enabling employees with a positive digital experience entails device choice/flexibility, seamless access to apps, remote work capabilities and an organization’s competitive position, revenue growth and employee sentiment.

Digital experience gap exists

The study found that 95% of IT decision maker respondents claim that IT provides employees with the digital tools they need in order to be successful in their job. However, nearly half of employee respondents said they do not have the digital tools they need. And, nearly two-thirds of employees (64%) do not feel they have a voice when it comes to which digital technologies they use at work. In contrast, 83% of CIOs respondents said employees do have a say in this.

Although delivery perceptions differ, both IT and employee respondents do agree on this — digital employee experience projects should be a top priority for their organizations.

The study revealed another gap that employers will want to note – there is a question of who is ultimately responsible for the overall employee experience. IT decision makers most often identified the Chief Information Officer, HR decision makers most often identified the Chief HR Officer, and employees most often identified the Chief Executive Officer.

Despite differences in perception of who is accountable for digital employee experience, nearly all respondents (89%) believe that HR and IT could work better together to improve the digital experience of employees.

Digital employee experience correlates to key business outcomes

Employees’ ability to access the apps and information they need, from whatever device or location they choose, affects their ability to effectively plan, collaborate and execute, as shown in the study, affirms the notion that providing employees with a seamless digital experience as they access these resources positively impacts business outcomes including rate of growth, employee sentiment and talent recruitment.

Better digital employee experience leads to faster revenue growth

80% of employees at companies experiencing high- or hyper-growth (more than 15% revenue growth) report they can easily find and install the right app for any new task/process at work, compared to 42% of employees at companies that are underperforming.

Positive impact on workforce sentiment

Delivering better a digital employee experience also plays a role in workforce sentiment. Respondents who say their organization gives them the ability to work from anywhere as easily as from the office are significantly more likely to say they are proud of their organization, compared to respondents whose company does not enable the freedom to work from anywhere.

The former is more likely to claim their organization has a progressive culture, is recognized as one of the top places to work and provides good work-life balance. In addition, employees are far more likely to recommend their organization (net promoter score) if they work at a company that provides a great digital employee experience.

Job candidates consider digital employee experience

Finally, when it comes to attracting new talent, digital experience is something candidates are also noting. A whopping 73% agree that the flexibility of tools (e.g., technology, apps and devices) that they might need to use for work would influence their decision to apply or accept a position at a company.

“Too often, the conversation about digital transformation focuses on the technology and leaves out the key ingredient to a winning strategy – attracting and retaining the best talent. To compete for the best talent, companies are prioritizing employee experience, which encompasses technology, workstyle and culture,” says Shankar Iyer, senior vice president and general manager, End User Computing, VMware.

“Leaders committed to improving employee experience are adopting the digital workspace. This fuels modern digital experiences, which our survey revealed as being critically important to current and prospective employees as well as improving other key business outcomes.” he adds.

Key takeaways

From the report, we see a clear lack of understanding from the part of businesses about what employees really want. The need of the hour is a digital-first culture in the organization. But owing to lack of support from senior leadership in the form of funding to concerns over data security when employees use their personal devices to access confidential organizational data – there are several challenges in implementing a digital-first culture in most organizations.

It is then that the CIO or IT specialist has the responsibility to create a robust data security platform to enable a digital culture that HR can evangelize. For example, with the right policies and tools in place, from bring your own device (BYOD) and choose your own device (CYOD) to native app delivery – organizations can strike a balance between employee experience and IT security.

The other interesting finding is that HR alone is not responsible for the digital transformation of an organization. It is here that the CIO, as an enabler of a digital workplace culture can step in to help others adopt the latest technologies. It is the CIO’s responsibility to partner with the HR manager, identify the right digital experiences and offer those to their employees.

A collaborative approach would augment work culture, create happy employees and enhance their overall experience.


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