Employee Experience (EX): The New Technology Benchmark

New research from Forrester Consulting reveals that IT administrators are relying more and more on a new metric for measuring the impact of technology policies and investments. It’s called Employee Experience (EX), and optimizing it is proving to be a very valuable goal that pays multiple dividends.

David K. Johnson, principal analyst at Forrester, discusses EX and IT.

What is Employee Experience?
Employee Experience grew out of the Customer Experience (CX) discipline. Like CX, EX replaces one-and-done surveys with in-depth research that creates nuanced, long-term understanding of what customers and employees are doing, thinking, and feeling.

Two of the most critical measurements in EX are employee engagement and employees’ ability to achieve their tasks and goals. Things that interrupt employees or force them to disengage create setbacks that ripple through an organization.

Invest in Your Employees, Invest in EX a 2020 commissioned study conducted by from Forrester Consulting finds a direct correlation between employee engagement and customer satisfaction, employee productivity, and an organization’s overall agility. An earlier Forrester report found that organizations that improve employee engagement 5 percent have seen a 3 percent increase in bottom-line revenue.

Factors that degrade EX and employee engagement
We all experience events and obstacles that pull us off task and create not-so-great experiences at work. Interruptions, unproductive meetings, policies that create busywork—the list of possible distractions and morale killers is lengthy.

EX uses research methods like journey mapping to understand the details of an employee’s days and identify changes that can improve the employee’s overall experience. Journey mapping can also identify concrete actions that boost performance and help employees “live” the business’s mission and brand promise.

In organization after organization, technology—specifically the PCs and laptops employees use at work—is a primary driver of great EX and incredible frustration. It’s really not surprising. After all, most of us spend the bulk of our day with a computer and rely on it to get the vast majority of our tasks done.

If our machines keep us happy, we’ll be more productive. If they make our jobs harder, our EX will almost definitely fall.

What is surprising is what goes into keeping an employee happy with their technology and highly engaged with their work.

The big disconnect: IT decision-makers vs. rank and file
When it comes to what matters most about workplace technologies, IT decision-makers and the people who use the technology are definitely not on the same page.

IT decision-makers tend to value the dollars and cents of their laptops and PCs. They tend to put longevity first and employee experience last—if they consider it at all. Integrating devices and software also ranks high on the list of IT decision-makers’ goals.

What do employees care about when it comes to technology? 1) It needs to work, and 2) it needs to connect employees with the information they need quickly and easily.

What’s important to IT in terms of positive influence on EX

  • Hardware integration — IT 58 percent | Employees 39 percent
  • Software integration — IT 53 percent | Employees 43 percent
  • Software that works across devices — IT 48 percent |Employees 35 percent

What’s important to employees in terms of positive influence on EX

  • Device used for work — IT 41 percent | Employees 54 percent
  • Easy access to information — IT 46 percent | Employees 51 percent
  • Collaboration software (tie) — IT 38 percent | Employees 38 percent

Perception and reality don’t agree
IT decision-makers often think the PCs and laptops they provide perform far better on the ground than they actually do. Forrester found that 84 percent of IT decision-makers think their policies allow employees to get a new PC or laptop whenever their needs change. Only half of employees agreed.  When Forrester researchers asked about the functional state of PCs and laptops, employees reported a very frustrated reality.

Employees report major frustrations with workplace computers

  • Computer is insufficient: 50 percent
  • Computer frequently breaks: 44 percent
  • Computer Software crashes frequently: 46 percent
  • Computer capabilities works well across teams: 30 percent

Listening to employees is a primary requirement
IT decision-makers can solve these technology concerns and close the perception gap between IT and employees with one simple technique: listening.

Seventy-two percent of employees ranked listening to employees and finding out what they need as the best way to improve EX. When it comes to technology purchases, including employees in decision-making and device selection is a win-win that turns technology refreshes into an investment in employee morale.

IT investments in EX are growing
EX has traditionally been the domain of human resources, but IT decision-makers are beginning to use EX in their research. IT is using journey maps and other EX techniques to listen to employees, identify their real needs, and target technology investments. The goal: making EX a primary measurement of IT success.

Get all the details, plus recommendations for improving EX
Download Invest in Your Employees, Invest in EX from Forrester Consulting for a detailed look at IT investments and EX. The study includes insight from their global survey of more than 1,000 IT decision-makers and more than 1,800 full-time employees who work primarily on laptops.

You’ll also find key recommendations for improving EX and making better, more-informed decisions about your frontline technology investments.

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