We’ve all heard the age-old adage: keep the customer happy and business moves forward, writes Andrew Smith of Nexthink.
This line of thinking has extended into the digital age, fostering a focus on user and customer experience as customers move from in-store shoppers to making their transactions online. And, as with most trends, user experience and has swiftly made its way into the workplace. Not only do satisfied employees make for a better work culture, but they also improve the bottom line.
So how can companies increase employees’ satisfaction and ultimately, happiness in the workplace?
Productive Employees are Happy Employees
It’s really about being productive. According to Forrester, what makes employees happiest is when they can make progress every day toward work they know is important.
The human resources (HR) organisation, SHRM, says that “A meaningful employee experience breaks down into finding the optimal balance of three areas… culture, technology and physical environment”. Due to this, employee experience is no longer the sole domain of HR – in fact, the CIO and the employee’s digital experience is fast becoming the key determinant in employee satisfaction – or lack thereof.
As technology in the workplace becomes much more complex and pervasive, there are many more openings for computer issues to occur and cause employee frustration along with work disruption.
The reality is that employees are often not satisfied with their IT experiences at work and find them inferior to their digital personal lives. Companies who fail to understand the individual digital needs of their employees are squandering opportunities to have a more engaged, energised and productive workforce, and open up the door for employees to bring unauthorised devices and applications onto the network to fulfil their requirements. Not only this, but job review sites like Glassdoor make failures in employees’ satisfaction a very public problem – addressing this is now critical for business reputation.
But how can CIOs help employees become more satisfied if they don’t fully understand what their frustrations and needs might be? Especially when their only interactions with employees is when they call the service desk. Traditional surveys and technology maturity assessments, which usually have low response rates, are not the answer; nor are traditional Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) that often include irrelevant performance reports that don’t reflect the actual quality experienced by the user.
The Key Steps to Employee Satisfaction
There are three key steps CIOs can take to make sure they’re more attuned to the needs of employees, removing the barriers to productivity and doing their part to bring happiness to the workplace:
Measure: It’s important to identify and measure end-user satisfaction and endpoint performance in a way that is easy and unobtrusive to the end-user. The ideal way is to ask targeted questions, to a specific person, at the right moment. For example, you can measure employee satisfaction of an installation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) module by targeting questions to all employees using that module at a particular moment in time. Another example is to measure the performance of your Skype for Business application by asking employees about their experience and correlating their feedback to network response times and application stability measured on their PCs. Measuring the real employee experience and satisfaction is critical for building Experience Level Agreements (XLAs, sometimes also abbreviated ELAs).
Improve: Once you’ve taken a lay of the land and understand what the major issues might be, you must quickly identify actions for continuous improvement, course correct and track progress in real-time. For example, you can revise your laptop renewal strategies with employee feedback; redesign the intranet portal to better address user needs; or give employees the tools they need to fix problems on their own. These actions ensure that XLAs are met.
Monitor: For IT departments serious about end-user satisfaction, they understand that it’s never a one and done proposition. They must continuously monitor satisfaction with devices and applications over time, identify environmental changes and their impact on satisfaction, and look for changes in satisfaction levels after major upgrades or installations.
Employee satisfaction is no longer a secondary activity for businesses, but has become the centrepiece to business growth. Understanding what IT can do to improve the employee digital experience and create happy users almost always leads to happy customers, and ultimately happy corporate boards who can watch revenue grow as a result. Researchers, philosophers and others were surely on to something when they said happiness is contagious – just look at today’s end-user driven enterprise.