IT Strategy Needs to Focus More on Employee Productivity

Employee Productivity

Let’s talk about employee productivity. A search on the internet for the 2022 concerns of CIOs and other senior technology leaders turns up an interesting list. One might assume that the latest technologies are getting their attention, but instead, many of the topics they’re concerned about relate to people and employee productivity. Not surprisingly, high on the list, we see:

  • The “Great Resignation” and competition for top talent
  • The emergence of the “hybrid work environment”
  • The skillset mismatch between current skills and needed skills for the future
  • Burnout.

When we do see technology-related factors, they’re the competing priorities of Digital Transformation and cost reduction, with much of the latter aimed at IT support.

Read this article by @SamiKallioHki to discover four tips for driving productivity improving decisions with employee data. #EX #ITSM Click To Tweet

Self-service portals as a cost-reduction example

In many cases, IT is focused on reducing costs (and not employee productivity) by getting people to use a self-service portal and closing the email channel — and telephone in some cases — without checking whether people would be happier to use the portal than they are using email. If we think about it, email is a good channel for employees. It’s easy. You can use it on your mobile, you can add attachments, and everyone knows how to add pictures so screenshots can be attached.

However, in reality, there’s often no gain for IT, end-users are less happy, and there have been even more reassignments for the portal tickets than there are from email. These reassignments cause delays, and delays mean continued interruption and loss of productivity and increased end-user unhappiness.

Unfortunately, IT is pushing people in a direction that appears on the surface to be beneficial to IT, without thinking about the whole end-user journey and its consequences for the entire organization. Those consequences are most often seen in the loss of employee productivity.

Using IT Experience Management to improve employee productivity

Gartner research says that IT Experience Management is now done by 5% of enterprises and in four years it’ll be 50%. Importantly, CIOs and IT directors can make informed decisions about where to best focus their efforts and money if they have good data on what really helps end-users be productive.

In 2019, Forrester surveyed 14,000 information workers across industries. Among all the factors included in the resulting Forrester Employee Experience Index report were six items specifically related to IT:

  • Belief that their IT department helps them be productive
  • Sufficient training on the technology they use
  • Technology that helps them work on what’s important
  • Technology that helps them easily collaborate
  • Easy access to the information they need
  • Belief that they have the right technology and equipment.

This list might sound easy enough to meet, but does your IT organization understand how well it’s meeting these employee-productivity-related factors for employees?

4 tips for driving productivity-improving decisions with employee data

Instead of writing off feedback from end-users as “complaining,” we can learn from what they are telling us if we start listening as well as looking at data. This experience-based insight will allow your IT organization to focus its improvement efforts on “what matters most.” First, for employee productivity. Second, as a result, for business operations and outcomes.

Does your organization want to leverage experience data to improve IT service delivery & support in pursuit of better business operations & outcomes? Then this article by @SamiKallioHki is for you. #EX #ITSM Click To Tweet

If your organization is wanting to leverage experience data to improve IT service delivery and support in pursuit of better business operations and outcomes, then the first steps in collecting and analyzing the data are important. These include:

  1. Starting with a baseline. Don’t do anything in terms of improvement until you’ve established where your IT organization currently is. This doesn’t need to be a be a great leap into the experience measurement waters. Instead, it can start with some focused attention and questioning. What are the top 10 issues end-users are contacting your service desk about? Build a survey based on this top 10 to ask the end-users which of these issues is stifling employee productivity the most. By cross-tabbing with existing service management data, analyze the result to determine where to focus improvement. Then measure the effects of the reduced interruption on employee productivity. This data starts to offer previously unseen insights into how end-users feel about the IT organization and its capabilities and can be used to help justify further investments in the capture and analysis of experience data and information.
  2. Considering ways to expand and accelerate the effort so trends become apparent and measures are done closer to real-time. The baseline mentioned above is merely a snapshot in time. It’s also highly focused, retrospective, and perhaps IT-led, rather than being a true reflection of everything affecting employee productivity. The real power of experience data comes from having a consistent, real-time stream of feedback that not only brings statistical validity but also an immediacy of response that provides more accurate feedback and the ability to address identified issues swiftly.
  3. Establishing consistent ways to analyze the experience data so that it informs strategic decisions about where and how resources should be used to improve the technical environment. There’s a wealth of data and insight available with experience-focused feedback and, in many ways, fully understanding what it means is like peeling the proverbial onion. Moving on from the immediately obvious insights to correlating data sets to uncover new trends, issues, and strategic needs.
  4. Continually refining the data-gathering and analysis process to discover whether, where, and by how much employee productivity is being increased. Plus, what the results are suggesting about your current IT delivery and support model, specific applications that may need to be upgraded or replaced, and how and where automation and machine learning tools can eliminate unproductive time. This is where the discovered insights get turned into improvement-focused actions and the experience measurement continues to ascertain how the changes are affecting operations, services, experiences, and outcomes. When the changes aren’t delivering the expected improvements, the experience data can be used to understand why and what course correction is needed.
'If you ask end-users what is important to their productivity, they’ll tell you. Without this feedback, your IT org is likely to be focusing its improvement activity on the wrong things' – @SamiKallioHki #EX #ITSM Click To Tweet

Experience data in action

To take a very basic example of how end-user experience can help drive IT decisions, think about the time it takes for a laptop to start up. Let’s say it takes 45 seconds now. IT can expend technical resources on figuring out how to optimize the settings and accelerate the startup time to 30 seconds, but what if this doesn’t matter? What if end-users are happy to refill their coffee while the computer starts up, and then set to work? If you ask end-users what is important to employee productivity, they’ll tell you. Without this feedback and the insight it brings, your IT organization is likely to be focusing its improvement activity on the wrong things. Perhaps based on what it thinks is most important, or being led by the loudest voices. Either way, it’s suboptimal decision-making at best and very likely to be missing the opportunity to improve employee productivity.

End-users know what helps them to be productive, work on what’s important, collaborate with their colleagues, and have access to information they need. Using the available experience data to influence the strategy of IT can put the organization’s technology resources to the best, most effective use. It’s a win/win/win for employees, the IT and ITSM organizations, and the business as a whole (including via enterprise service management strategies).

Sami Kallio
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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