Meg Donovan has been leading HR teams at fast-growing technology companies for more than 10 years. Prior to joining Nexthink as its chief people officer, Donovan was the VP of HR at PTC, a global software company. At PTC, Meg built and supported the HR strategy to provide information, tools and guidance on effectively managing and maximizing human capital for the organization.

Nexthink is a sponsor of Simpler Media Group’s (SMG) Digital Workplace Experience Fall Event, taking place online on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15. Donovan will join Tim Flower, Nexthink’s global director transformation, in a Q&A session on the increasing importance of an integrated IT and HR strategy to ensure employees have what they need to meet both digital and in-person needs. Flower and Donovan will share new research conducted by Nexthink and Pulse on the importance of HR and IT’s partnership to tackle DEX (digital employee experience) within an organization. They will discuss the overlapping roles HR and IT teams play as the world of work evolves yet again to face new challenges, and will share examples of how HR and IT in partnership can work to provide an optimal digital environment for employees.

We spoke with Donovan for a sneak peek at Nexthink’s Q+A session topic: “Digital Well-Being and the Role of IT and HR in Reducing Digital Burnout.”

HR and IT: A Necessary (and Natural) Alliance

SMG: Describe the path that led you to where you are now. When did you know you wanted to work in human resources? Was there a pivotal moment that led you here?

Meg Donovan: While there are many human resources professionals that initially set out to be in HR, I am not one of them. I went to college hoping to be a physical therapist. After college, I moved to San Diego and was desperately looking for any job. It certainly wasn’t the same job market employees have today. When I wasn’t having any luck, I went to a temp agency. I told them I was a fast learner, reliable and just needed a foot in the door, and the owner hired me on the spot and taught me how to be a recruiter. It turns out I was right; I just needed my foot in the door. I excelled at being a recruiter and my HR career blossomed from there. And being in HR has opened many doors since, including working in the tech space. While I may have thought I wanted to be a physical therapist, I knew I wanted to be in the tech space and have really fallen in love with its fast pace, creativity and endless possibilities.

SMG: Tell us about the topic of your Q&A session, “Digital Well-Being and the Role of IT and HR in Reducing Digital Burnout.”

Donovan: Our recent survey in partnership with Pulse shows that unreliable IT services and equipment is the third biggest contributor to employee turnover and burnout. While we at Nexthink have always known the digital employee experience impacts employee productivity, many organizations have yet to realize how large of a role digital experience plays in employee experience. And COVID-19 and hybrid work have only exasperated that further. A big part of recognizing the untapped potential of digital employee experience is bringing together HR and IT teams. Our session will discuss how an integrated IT and HR strategy ensures that the full employee experience is covered and will provide best practices and real use cases to prevent employee digital well-being from falling through the cracks. 

SMG: When conducting your recent research with Pulse, what hypothesis did you have going in? Were there survey results that totally surprised you? Any unexpected learnings? 

Donovan: Our inspiration for the research was to answer the question: how do HR and IT leaders solve the same modern work challenges? And the results, which we’ll be covering in our talk, really highlight that we share the same collective problems to tackle — whether it’s preventing employee burnout and high turnover or collecting reliable actionable feedback on how employees are doing, or if they’re happy with their at-home remote work office set up. It doesn’t surprise me, but the findings show the top issues both IT and HR report facing in 2021 include employee retention and the return to the physical office space.

Learning Opportunities

SMG: What are the main challenges to getting HR and IT to work together to address the digital employee experience? How might those challenges be addressed? 

Donovan: At the end of the day, HR and IT want the same things to support their company in keeping people productive, connected and collaborating. We just look at it through different lenses and have different ways of approaching the same outcome. We also both have similar stigmas to overcome — it’s not every day that you hear someone say they love their IT or HR department. Building relationships from that common ground is important. And I feel lucky that I have great partnerships with our IT team to work toward common goals, like digital employee experience. 

Remote Work Is Here to Stay

SMG: How might things have been different if the pandemic had not necessitated the sudden ubiquity of remote work?

Donovan: Remote work would have happened, eventually, just at a much slower pace. The workforce needed it to happen for various factors such as city congestion, increasing commute times, work-life balance, technology catching up to enable remote work, global collaboration and distributed talent pools, etc. And now that it has been proven that things work more than reasonably well in a remote environment, it’s hard to put the cat back in the bag.  

SMG: As it relates to human capital, what current beneficial practices do you feel will outlast the pandemic? Any that won’t?

Donovan: I think being fully remote will eventually die down and hybrid will be here to stay. At least in our business, the overwhelming majority of our employees WANT an office to go to, to get out of the house, socialize with adults, etc. They also want the balance of being able to pick their kids up from school and coach youth sports, too. 

Claim your free pass to the Digital Workplace Experience here and be sure to check out the Q&A Session, “Digital Well-Being and the Role of IT and HR in Reducing Digital Burnout.”