96% of tech leaders say digital employee experience is a top priority

Tech execs weigh in on how they dealt with the increasingly important digital employee experience, ongoing challenges, and the focus for 2021, revealed in new research from Pulse.QA and Nexthink.

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Pre-pandemic, burdened IT departments were relied upon and often beleaguered, but once COVID-19 sent nearly all staff to work from home, the company’s reliance on its IT sector grew exponentially. Unfortunately, a new report from Pulse.QA, commissioned by Nexthink uncovered a troubling trend: The tech department views their services quite differently than the employees’ experience, which means that while the IT department is satisfied with how they’ve assisted staff, the feeling is increasingly not reciprocated; and this may be at the crux of concerns between IT and employees. 

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The Silicon Valley-based Pulse.QA polled 142 tech execs to find out how IT fares in keeping its digital employee experience (DEX) positive and fostering productivity.

By October 2020, tech leaders overwhelmingly agree (96%) that DEX is a top priority and has been since the beginning of last year, yet pre-pandemic in May 2019, that figure was only 49%. By May 2020, it jumped to 78%. 

Respondents were in agreement (94%) that an automatic employee engagement tool (in use among 19%) would strategically improve their digital experience.  A mere 6% disagreed. 

The research showed that 34% of respondents are still reliant on manual DEX information collection, and almost half (46%) don’t measure their employee’s DEX at all. 

Increase in IT tickets

Unsurprisingly, the digital transformation from a brick-and-mortar office to a dispersed workforce resulted in an increase of IT ticket volume. In May 2020, 43% of IT leaders cited the biggest challenge since the pandemic’s start as the increase in IT support tickets, but more recent evidence puts the number at 70% of tech leaders polled who said the call volume and ticket submissions continue to rise, “with a majority of those reporting increases up to 50%.”

Technology issues were at the forefront of the digital transition from the office to a WFA (work from anywhere) environment. Overwhelmingly, the top challenges were VPN connections, virtual calls, and working Wi-Fi.

Respondents cited the most frequently reported issues:

  • 77% said VPN connection issues
  • 65% said poor video calls
  • 51% said Wi-Fi connection issues
  • 26% said security threats
  • 23% said application crashes
  • 20% said manual password resets

Keeping IT issues on the down-low

Pulse.QA revealed that in early 2020, a poll of 2,000 senior IT leaders and 1,000 digital workers across North America and Europe said that slightly more than half (55%) of employees report their tech problems, which translated to 45% of people tolerating IT disruptions. This means, the report cited, that “in many cases the Help Desk isn’t even aware of some of the problems the employees are experiencing. 

Other facts revealed in the study: 

The financial burden of IT interruptions

There are about 100 IT interruptions annually, and each interruption lasts an average of 28 minutes, which translates into 40 hours of lost productivity, per employee, per year. And, for organizations with 10K employees, the numbers jump from $500,000 weekly or $25 million annually.

IT leaders: What they’re confident their teams can handle

The IT leaders polled were confident their IT team could handle certain issues well: 65% cited productivity and collaboration tools, 51% said core business tolls, 40% said VPN performance, 38% said device performance and security, 34% cited employee satisfaction and outreach, 16% said it was work from anywhere, 15% said asset compliance, 14% said Wi-Fi performance (likely because it involves the employee’s own service), 10% digital transformation, 9% employee outreach and survey collection, and 6% said application deployment.

The evidence is troubling, as it reveals that IT departments are losing confidence in the ability to innovate as well as successfully execute and complete tasks. A reason, the report concluded, is that “most IT departments lack effective employee outreach and tools to collect meaningful feedback. 

“Employees rarely answer traditional email and HTML surveys,” the report noted. 

The future of IT departments

In 2021, “as teams continue to work remotely, technology executives anticipate that cybersecurity will pose the biggest challenge to their organization.” From the initial shift away from the office, IT leaders and teams voiced many concerns about employees using their personal equipment to conduct work assignments, and the cybersecurity issues that seemed inevitable. 

Executives predict a diverse and widespread number of IT challenges over the next 12 months.

About one-in-three leaders anticipate challenges with: 

  • Resources
  • supporting employee wellbeing 
  • employee onboarding

About one-in-four IT leaders predict problems with: 

  • application adoption and usage
  • new tech rollouts (beta-testing)
  • problem identification 
  • sustaining their WFA model

The report concludes, “one point has emerged over and over again: Digital employee experience is a crucial part of the future of work, and IT leaders are keen to put people at the center of their services.”

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