Employee Experience Explained for IT Service Desks

Employee Experience
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It was Desmond’s first day at XYZco and he was getting started with his employee onboarding. One of the first things he learned about XYZ—even before he decided to apply for this position—was that the organization’s core values statement said that XYZ “is focused on the customer experience, and on the experience of our employees who serve them.” In fact, that statement was one of the reasons Desmond decided that he’d like to work for XYZ. His recruitment process and hiring bore out XYZ’s commitments. After completing some mandatory but engaging orientation, Desmond reported to the IT service desk to begin learning the job.

Starting with the first time Desmond learned about the existence of XYZco, every interaction he’s had with the company is part of his employee experience, and that experience will continue throughout his employment. All those interactions with staff, systems, policies, management decisions, tools and technologies, opportunities, knowledge, and information (or lack of it) add up to Desmond’s employee experience.

Employee experience versus employee expectations

Employee experience is about more than whether or not XYZco is meeting Desmond’s expectations. It’s about how, why, and where those expectations are set to begin with.

“Employee experience is a worker’s observations and perceptions about his or her employment at a particular company. Experience is often influenced by the company’s physical workspace, the work-life balance the company provides, and technology that enables productivity.” TechTarget

At its heart, employee experience is subjective. It’s based on employee sentiment—positive and negative—about the organization, the workplace, the workforce, and the work itself. It’s a way to look at how employers are portraying themselves and the organization and specifically at whether or not the expectations they set with employees are being met.

At its heart, employee experience is subjective. It’s based on employee sentiment—positive and negative—about the organization, the workplace, the workforce, and the work itself – @RoyAtkinson #EX Click To Tweet

The link between customer experience and employee experience

Organizations have learned that in order to compete for customers, customer experience (CX) is a very important differentiator; to compete for—and keep—the best employees, employee experience is likewise a differentiator. Additionally, research has shown time and again that there’s a strong correlation between good employee experience and good CX; HDI’s research has shown that IT support organizations with highly satisfied employees are rated an average of 5% higher on customer satisfaction.

According to Gallup research:

“Organizations and teams with higher employee engagement and lower active disengagement perform at higher levels. For example, organizations that are the best in engaging their employees achieve earnings-per-share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors. Compared with business units in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile of engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes.”

But how do we measure employee experience?

Survey and analytics provider Qualtrics suggests that there are five main areas to focus on with employee experience:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Onboarding
  3. Development
  4. Retention
  5. Exit

For this article, I’m going to focus on the third and fourth areas.

How do we measure what goes on in the realm of employee experience day-to-day?

In the basic measurement of staff satisfaction, HDI’s annual research shows a large difference between managed service providers (MSPs) and other support organizations whose focus is primarily internal, i.e., supporting employees of the same company:

  • More than half (51%) of MSPs measure daily, while none of the non-MSPs do
  • Over one-third (36%) of MSPs measure weekly, while not quite one-quarter of non-MSPs do.

This may stem from the recognition that good employee experience and good CX go hand-in-hand, and that organizations with highly engaged employees are more successful.

HDI Frequency Graph

How do we measure what goes on in the realm of employee experience day-to-day? Here @RoyAtkinson explores. #EX Click To Tweet

But what are the consequences of daily measuring?

While it may provide a basic way to determine the direction of employee satisfaction over time, few organizations can respond fast enough to make this type of data gathering worthwhile. Additionally, employee experience should go beyond the simple satisfaction metric.

The IBM Employee Experience Index explains: “Leadership initiates momentum towards a positive employee experience, while workplace practices carry that momentum forward.” The elements of what they call human workplace practices are important to employee experience. These include:

  • Expectations that the organization acts with integrity
  • Co-worker support
  • Consistency of the work with the organization’s core values
  • Work that makes good use of employees’ skills and abilities
  • Employee ideas and suggestions matter
  • Employees have the freedom to decide how to do their work (empowerment)
  • Schedules are flexible enough to meet personal and family responsibilities
  • The chance to “recharge” when not at work (work-life balance).

Measuring employee experience factors

To gather enough data to measure these factors accurately, there should be at least two inputs: Analytics operating in IT service management (ITSM) tools themselves, and pulse surveys to gather feedback on the factors outside the tools.

Analytics can provide a stream of data that shows how well employees are performing, which is tied closely to their engagement in the work. Successful completion of tasks in a timely fashion, adherence to schedule, level of collaboration to solve problems, use of existing knowledge, and the creation of new knowledge—all these are measures that can come directly from ITSM tools with no extra effort on the part of the employee.

Pulse surveys ask direct questions about the leadership, management, communication, and the other human workplace practices, including the amount of effort that must be exerted to get the work done, an important factor in determining the effectiveness and efficiency of the tools the organization is using.

However, beware survey fatigue

Even more than the frequency of surveys, survey fatigue often is a consequence of inaction. If no changes come about as a result of feedback, the willingness to give feedback disappears. Employees become convinced that you’re gathering information just to gather information, or, worse, to gather information that can somehow be used against them.

Culture Amp CEO Didier Elzinga says, “The most typical reason people don’t want to fill out your survey is because you haven’t done anything since the last one. They don’t have survey fatigue; they have lack-of-action fatigue.”

The rule of thumb to combat this fatigue? Only survey as often as you can take valuable action on the results.

Want to avoid survey fatigure? Only survey as often as you can take valuable action on the results, says @RoyAtkinson. #ITSM Click To Tweet

To wrap up:

  • Employee experience is a subjective reaction to all the experiences an employee has
  • Employee experience can be a key differentiator for organizations
  • There should be at least two sources of employee experience data:
    1. Performance data analytics directly from the ITSM tools
    2. Pulse surveys taken at a cadence that matches the organization’s ability to change.

Informed leadership and management decisions can be based on the quality and amount of data from these sources as well as what may be the best source: Conversations with the employees. It’s amazing what you can learn when you listen.

CEO | Principal Advisor at Clifton Butterfield, LLC

Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. In addition to many other lists, he was named one of the “10 ITSM Experts to Follow” by BMC Software, and one of  “The Top 50 Customer Service Experts of the Decade (2010-2020)” by Nextiva in May, 2020. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his former role as Group Principal Analyst at Informa Tech, he acted as in-house subject matter expert for HDI and ICMI, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business. Follow him on Twitter @RoyAtkinson

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