The Digital Employee Experience Is Crucial Today — but Chronically Overlooked

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How much does the digital workplace impact employee morale? Just ask your team members the next time an app crashes, when they can’t connect to the VPN or a video conference call, or when critical work grinds to a halt because a computer was overloaded at peak capacity.

Technology accounts for 30 percent of the employee experience, according to Forrester’s Employee Experience Index. When devices or apps fail, network connectivity slows down, or security policies block information access, it undermines productivity, frustrates employees, and fuels burnout. Throw in the communication challenges, reduced visibility, and compatibility issues that come with supporting remote or hybrid workers and bring-your-own-device practices, and IT problems can deplete employees’ patience as they siphon away revenue through hours of lost productivity.

Over the past year, the way we work has changed. More and more companies are adopting remote work as a permanent way of conducting business. Remote work gives people the option of working at any time, for any company, anywhere on the planet. Frustrated employees can easily find another company that can provide them with a much better employee experience, making the need for prioritizing the digital employee experience more critical than ever before.

We recently released results from a first-ever global market survey of 600 C-level executives, employees, and IT staff, investigating the progress companies are making to provide a good digital experience to their workforces. Results showed that although 67 percent of IT staff agree the digital employee experience is a critical priority for the IT organization, nearly half of CEOs and CHROs say their companies don’t measure the quality of the digital employee experience.

Post-pandemic, many C-suite executives have realized that prioritizing the employee work experience is just as beneficial as prioritizing the customer experience. In turn, many organizations are finally looking to reduce technology difficulties by embracing a proactive IT approach that helps them discover and addresses issues as they develop, rather than waiting to learn about problems when complaints roll in after the fact.

In return for investing in a more active problem-solving method, employers can expect improved efficiency from systems and devices kept in proper order and working smoothly. What is more, maintaining a positive DEX fosters goodwill among team members that can translate to a stronger brand and an edge in recruiting and retaining top talent.

Before a company can reforge its IT approach, however, its leaders need to understand the fundamental shortcomings of the old status quo, which traps the service team in a cycle of playing catch-up to fix what has broken.

A Question of Visibility

Under conventional, reactive IT approaches driven by service tickets or calls, helpdesk teams see only a fraction of employees’ issues. Workers are often reluctant to request assistance with impairments like poor video quality, slowness, apps that eventually work, and tools that are not quite right for the job. In our experience, helpdesk tickets only reveal about 5-10 percent of IT issues.

Unreported matters are left to fester or snowball until they enter IT’s radar as significant and costly problems that threaten innovation, return on investments, recruiting, retention, and other business outcomes. The disparity between IT’s awareness and the actual end-user experience is at the crux of why many support teams find themselves perpetually chasing problems rather than pursuing improvements. They lack visibility into what the employee — the end user — is experiencing.

Better visibility is key to adopting a proactive IT approach. Understanding how technology is used, how it’s performing, and the effects on end users of any events that occur (like software upgrades) is essential to detecting and solving issues efficiently. Reaching this level of visibility requires tracking all the assets that make up the digital workplace and experience, from software to cloud services, licenses, and devices.

A platform built on a rich data foundation equips IT to move beyond reactive support to perform predictive analytics and improve digital employee experience at scale. Remediation becomes faster because preset triggers and predictive analysis detect challenges as they occur or even before they occur. Platforms that leverage artificial intelligence capabilities can build on this holistic view of the operation and suggest or provide strategic improvements, such as automated service desk functions.

A detailed grasp of IT usage poses several operational and budgetary advantages. Examples include rapid software auditing capabilities, right-sizing license fees, focusing support on users likely to be affected by specific updates, and prioritizing hardware and software upgrades for users who need them most. Furthermore, procurement can be need-based, reducing spend on unnecessarily large-scale changes.

Capturing the Big Picture

Maintaining a positive digital employee experience has grown more difficult for organizations in recent years, even more so with the growth of the remote workforce since the start of the pandemic. Even among employers that keep close tabs on how team members use company-owned systems and equipment, few managers or IT desks have visibility into how employees may be using personal devices on the job. And what about remote workers relying on their home internet services and personal Wi-Fi, who may be sharing bandwidth with other household members?

Fortunately, employers now have ways to gain visibility beyond their corporate networks to monitor and better understand their team members’ complete digital workspace needs. With a lightweight agent installed on each device, digital experience management platforms can gather input on the operation of thousands of devices for a holistic view of the digital employee experience. Continual analysis of this edge data gives IT both a real-time and historical view of digital environments, including network connectivity; latency time; and the performance of hardware, apps, and remote work setups.

Today’s leading platforms combine edge data from extended and corporate networks to give organizations clarity into all their assets and user needs. This holistic vision offers the freedom to weed out underutilized apps and components that drain IT resources and right-size hardware and software to eliminate unnecessary spending.

Digital experience management technology is at the core of digital transformation initiatives across industries. The right solution not only enhances the way business is conducted, but it also improves the work experience for all employees in the digital workspace. Providing employees with every opportunity to succeed leads to a boost in production. Productive employees are happy employees, and a company that prioritizes the well-being of its employees prioritizes its own continued success.

Bill Hobbib is CMO of Lakeside.

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By Bill Hobbib