How to Engender an Experience Management Culture in Your IT Organization

Experience Management Culture

Employee experience management was an IT hot topic pre-pandemic, then the explosion in home working and, more recently, work-from-anywhere (WFA) scenarios has raised both its profile and need even higher. Especially now that employees are far more dependent on, and aware of the importance of, their technology. Both when simply “getting work done” and when remotely working with their colleagues and other third parties.

Your organization is likely no exception to this need for an increased focus on the employee experience offered by IT. But how does your organization succeed in improving employee experience?

To help, this article explains why a culture change is needed to be successful with employee experience improvement and how to bring it about across the whole of IT.

This article by @SamiKallioHki explains why a culture change is needed to be successful with employee experience improvement and how to bring it about across the whole of IT. #EX Click To Tweet

Recognizing the importance of employee experience management

Before diving into the culture-change waters, it’s worth “getting on the same page” with employee experience management. Because, while there are many definitions of what employee experience is out there on the internet, it’s key that your organization understands what it means to it and its employees.

For example, while some might think that employee experience is about treating employees like customers or perhaps making them “happy,” there’s also a very business-focused need for employee experience that resonates with employees too. This was succinctly stated by Forrester Research in a 2019 blog: “Psychological research shows that the most important factor for employee experience is being able to make progress every day toward the work that they believe is most important.” In short, we’re talking about improving employee productivity – both in terms of how their provided technology helps or hinders them and how IT issues and the way in which they’re remedied affect employee productivity.

The bottom line is that poor employee experiences are likely to adversely affect business operations and outcomes and, conversely, experience improvements are about better business operations and outcomes, not simply happier employees.

Experience improvements are about better business operations and outcomes, not simply happier employees – @SamiKallioHki #EX Click To Tweet

Looking at IT through an employee experience management lens

Think about a traditional IT role and the focus of the personnel working on it. Do they perceive themselves to be managing IT or helping their business colleagues to get their work done (via IT enablement)?. And what are they trying to achieve – undertaking an IT task or contributing an outcome that’s in the best interest of employee(s)?

In many ways, this is representative of the traditional IT metrics that drive a certain type of behavior. Those traditional metrics are often focused on the “mechanics” of IT and measure the “how many” and “how quickly” aspects of performance. They’re operationally focused rather than being outcome-focused and, for employees that are reliant I IT to do their work, what lies “behind the curtain” – in terms of IT operations – means little versus having their needs met efficiently.

However, the performance metrics alone aren’t the issue. These are likely driven by the adopted IT strategies, and then their cascade to policies, and then to processes and practices. Plus, these are often driven by the business-level strategy for IT – as a cost center – to be delivered as economically as possible. Unfortunately, what such a strategy fails to understand though is that a dollar saved in IT might cost business operations, and employee productivity, 10x this. It’s suboptimal thinking and behavior.

People need to understand that a dollar saved in IT might cost business operations, and employee productivity, 10x this. It’s suboptimal thinking and behavior, says @SamiKallioHki #leadership #EX Click To Tweet

Improving employee experience and the necessary culture change starts with strategy

Sadly, the improvement of employee experience is not something that happens overnight (once an experience management switch is flicked). Instead, it requires time, along with conversations, data, decisions, and actions (that often include “trial and error” as different possibilities are considered). It also requires different mindsets and behaviors in IT personnel, that’s ultimately part of a larger organizational culture change.

Returning to my point in the previous section, the employed metrics that tell IT personnel “what’s most important” and drive their behaviors are the result of the adopted IT strategies, policies, processes, and practices. Employee experience improvement, therefore, isn’t as simple as adding in a few experience-related metrics and acting on what they say.

Instead, there’s a need to alter how the provision of IT is done – which is fed by the IT strategies and then policies. Recognizing this is one of the first steps in engendering an employee experience culture in your organization (along with the necessary change decisions related to employee experience management, including acquiring the associated funding).  

As is starting to measure employee experience – where the initial data collected fulfills a number of roles – from confirming the current state (including the initial identification of issues), through setting the baseline for success measurement, to providing a platform for business-wide conversations about IT performance and improvement. Importantly, conversations and decisions around performance and improvement can now be based on facts not opinions and gut feelings.

Employee experience improvement isn’t as simple as adding in a few experience-related metrics and acting on what they say – @SamiKallioHki #EX Click To Tweet

Organizational change management is a must-have

In terms of bringing about the necessary change(s), it’s critically important to recognize that employee experience management is not just a process change or a technology change. Instead, it’s a people-based change – because it affects the traditional ways of working and thus necessitates the use of organizational change management (OCM) tools and techniques to get people bought into the change as a minimum.

There are three key aspects to address here:

  1. Selling the change to employees (and understanding what buy-in requires)
  2. Preparing people for the change(s)
  3. Maintaining and continually improving on the initial successes

Transparency is key to employee experience management too

When trying to improve employee experience on the back of culture change, transparency – i.e. sharing the collected employee experience data – will help. At a senior level, this will help to justify the improvement initiative(s) and to bring those “sitting on the fence” onside. But the greatest impact will be at an operational level where IT personnel can receive focused positive feedback on their efforts that, unlike traditional metrics and data, is the validation of how they’re helping their business peers (rather than simply knowing how quickly they’re working).

As explained in this webinar with biotechnology company bioMérieux, repeated communication and data visibility was vital to their experience management success. From creating awareness, through engendering belief in the approach, to creating trust with outsourced service providers – with it important to use the experience data to bring about positive change rather than finger pointing. The result of which, after a year of focus, was not only greater buy-in to experience management on the IT provider side, including culture change within vendors, but also a significant increase in the end-user feedback rate from 27% to 43%.

Ultimately, the transparency of experience data is both a great people motivator and a key jigsaw piece in slowly changing the organizational culture within IT to one that’s focused on employee experience and the enablement of technology users and business outcomes rather than simply the provision and availability of IT services.

If you’d like to find out more about how to improve your IT organization’s employee experience, including the key stages in creating an experience management culture, then please visit our website www.happysignals.com

CEO at HappySignals

Sami Kallio is the CEO of HappySignals, a company focused on helping businesses to improve their internal services by shifting the focus from traditional metrics to employee experience - by measuring and analysing employee happiness and productivity. Sami says:” I believe that enterprises should no longer try to save more money from support services. Rather that organizations should put more focus on business value. At HappySignals we help organizations to measure and understand their employees' experience and productivity in a new way."

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