smiling woman working in an office
PHOTO: True Agency

Digital transformation is happening everywhere. Autonomous vehicles. Smart buildings. Wearables. Commercial drones. New payment methods. At every turn, you can see how new technologies are creating new value and delivering great new experiences. 

While these innovations will play a critical role in how companies do business, technology is only part of the equation. Successful digital transformation also requires talent — both to drive innovation behind the scenes and to deliver better direct customer experiences.  

In order to attract and retain the best talent, a shift in culture is required, one that allows employees to work in the manner that suits their individual workstyle. Companies are increasingly prioritizing digital employee experience to help facilitate this culture shift. 

A recent global survey by my company, VMware, of employees, HR professionals and IT decision makers dove into the topic of digital employee experience: how much does it matter, how well are organizations delivering it, and what can be done to improve it. Here are a few of the key findings that have critical implications for leaders ushering their company through a digital transformation journey.

Digital Employee Experience Is Linked to Key Business Outcomes

When asked which digital experience factors are most important to them, employees identified the following as the most critical:

  • Can easily find and install the right apps needed for work. 
  • Can access necessary apps and data on their first day of work.
  • Can easily work remotely from outside the office.
  • Have freedom to work from personally-owned devices.
  • Can choose between Android or iOS and Mac or PC for work devices.

These preferences emphasize the need for companies to embrace the new apps, devices and workstyles employees demand in order to keep employees happy.

The survey kept digging to find out the true value of providing these types of digital experiences to employees. Results reveal that providing a good digital employee experience (i.e., enabling more of these digital experience factors) is linked to achieving key business outcomes. In fact ...

  • The more competitive respondents rate their organization (leaders/pioneers vs. middle of the pack vs. followers), the more likely they are to have a good digital employee experience.
  • The greater the annual revenue growth level of an organization, the better the employee’s digital employee experience.
  • The organizations whose respondents are more likely to recommend are much more likely to provide a good digital employee experience.

The bottom line: providing a great digital employee experience is not just a nice-to-have, it is critical to business success.

Related Article: Where Technology Fits in the Employee Experience

In a Tight Talent Market, Employee Experience Matters

Never before has it been more important to get the right talent through your company doors. The problem is, leading companies are going after the same talent. So in a tightening talent market, how do you differentiate yourself from competitors? Part of that answer is — you guessed it — by providing a great digital employee experience. 

The global survey found correlation between providing a strong digital experience and a company’s likelihood to retain and attract talent. Results showed employees are far more likely to recommend their organization (net promoter score) if they work at a company that provides great digital employee experiences. For instance, promoters were significantly more likely than detractors to report being able to choose between Mac or PC (60% vs. 33%), use personally-owned devices (67% vs. 43%) or work from anywhere (74% vs. 47%).

And, digital experience is influencing talent before they step foot through the company door. A whopping 73% of respondents agree that the flexibility of tools they might need to use for work would influence their decision to apply or accept a position at a company. 

Related Article: Digital Employee Experience Still Not Viewed as Business Critical

There Is a Gap Between What IT Thinks It's Delivering and What Employees Say They Are

Nearly all — 95% — of IT decision maker respondents claim that IT provides employees with the digital tools they need to succeed in their job. However, nearly half of employee respondents said they do not have the digital tools they need. 

And nearly two-thirds of employees (64%) felt they didn't have a voice when it comes to which digital technologies they use at work; whereas 83% of IT decision maker respondents said employees do have a say.

This perception gap can be dangerous for any organization, as it can lead to employees and IT expectations not lining up when it comes to digital experiences. And, as previously established, if employees do not feel they have the tools they need in order to work on their own terms, they will seek an employer who will provide them. 

The good news? Although delivery perceptions differ, both IT and employee respondents do agree on this: digital employee experience projects should be a priority for their organizations. In fact, 87% of IT respondents agree with that statement compared to 78% of employee respondents.

So, how can IT work to close the perception gap when it comes to digital employee experience? Bring other functional teams to the table.

Related Article: Sound Familiar? 4 Phrases That Show Your Employee Experience Needs Work

Digital Employee Experience Is a Team Sport

If you were to draw a Venn diagram showing the primary focus of IT and HR, you might have IT’s circle say something like “technology and tools” and HR’s circle say “people and processes.” Digital employee experience lives right in the middle, where the two converge.  

With both IT and HR teams having a unique perspective, a lot can be gained when these teams collaborate to tackle the challenge of improving digital employee experience. Employees agree. Nearly all respondents (89%) believe that HR and IT could work better together to improve the digital experience of employees.

Bringing IT and HR together can accelerate the culture shift needed to adopt digital workspace strategies that ultimately improve digital employee experience.

The results of the survey underscore the importance of the digital workspace. A digital workspace strategy can provide a holistic change in the way end-user services are delivered by IT. It is all about putting employees first and embracing the new apps, devices, and workstyles employees demand. In doing so, organizations are able to provide a culture of choice that reinforces the value of the employee and supports their ability to produce quality work through meaningful moments.