Research reveals disconnect between IT and HR over employee experience

There is a clear diffusion of responsibility when it comes to shaping employee experience through the use of technology, according to a new research paper from The Economist Intelligence Unit.

A new study, ‘The experience of work in Europe: the role of technology in productivity and engagement’, quizzed 1145 business executives around the world, including 160 UK-based respondents, at organisations employing over 500 people. The paper examines how organisations are managing the employee experience and the role of technology in shaping it*.

The research found almost a third (30 per cent) of UK c-suite agreed ‘leadership and management’ would be the most important factor in creating an employee experience that delivers improved talent retention and productivity. Yet a quarter (27 per cent) of leaders do not believe their CIO and CHRO view digital transformation as a shared project, with only 24 per cent strongly agreeing that they employ experts with experience in both HR and IT to bridge the two departments. The primary barriers to more effective collaboration were identified as a lack of budget (32 per cent), a lack of time (30 per cent) and a lack of mutual understanding (30 per cent).

To align the two departments, the majority of executives (70 per cent) believe there is a need for a senior leadership position with responsibility for the human impact of technology. Most individuals at c-suite level envisage the IT leader of the future as an expert in human factors such as engagement and wellbeing (83per cent). Likewise, they would like HR leaders to have expertise in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and analytics (6 9per cent).

The business case for collaboration

Improving the employee experience is the top priority for a third (33 per cent) of leaders when it comes to collaboration between IT and HR. A quarter of respondents also confirmed that further teamwork between these two departments would be key for recruiting IT talent (26 per cent) and protecting employee privacy (22 per cent). One in seven (14 per cent) recognised the value this would provide as organisations prepare for the impact of automation on jobs. The majority (85 per cent) of executives agreed, somewhat or strongly, that badly chosen or implemented workplace technology can have a negative impact on the employee experience, with a similar figure (86 per cent) believing that implementation should be a key consideration in all IT projects. Yet just 14 per cent of CIOs have an active leadership role when it comes to shaping the employee experience.

Well implemented tech leads to improved engagement

Leaders consider improved talent retention (47 per cent) and productivity (44 per cent) to be the most significant business outcomes their organisation has seen – or expects to see – as a result of improving the employee experience. One third (34 per cent) of respondents also expect business profits to increase as a direct result. A further 10 per cent anticipate improved employee engagement will accelerate their digital transformation efforts. Despite this clear link between correctly implemented technology and employee engagement, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents admitted their company currently has no digital transformation strategy in place, with this still ‘in development’ for one in five (22 per cent) organisations. The majority (79 per cent) of executives also believe their company needs to improve its use of digital technology to achieve its strategic objectives, especially when compared to peers.

Darren Fields, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Citrix. said,

The majority of UK business leaders recognise the importance of creating a productive and engaging experience for their employees. Many of them see technology as an important factor in creating such an experience, yet there’s a risk of departments being seen as ‘passing the buck’ when it comes to taking responsibility to make this happen.

As the war for talent rages on, leaders cannot afford to be seen as simply paying lip service to what is a growing employee demand. IT and HR must therefore build stronger relationships within organisations and establish clear lines of ownership around the employee experience – as there are no excuses for failing to set employees up for success” Fields added.

*Study sponsored by Citrix

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