Chris Weston
Chris Weston (Principal, European Client Advisory)
Marc Dowd
Marc Dowd (Principal, European Client Advisory)
Tom Schwieters
Tom Schwieters (Vice President)

Maybe I’ve just been noticing more of them, but every other post on LinkedIn these days seems to feature someone moving on to a new role, and it also appears to me that these are more often people with longer service — not what we might consider job-hopping butterflies. There has been lots of talk of the “Great Resignation” in various parts of the world, as people have reassessed their priorities faced with a global pandemic and continuing uncertainty caused by events such as the Russia-Ukraine war.

The statistics bear this out — a survey last year showed that 38% of employees in the UK planned to quit their jobs in 6–12 months. Another poll sponsored by Microsoft put the number at 41%.

The causes of these itchy feet are numerous and complex. However, many people in “knowledge worker” roles have found themselves forced to work from home for nearly two years and this has undoubtedly been a reason for reassessment. Some found this very difficult, either not having an appropriate space or environment at home or just becoming very lonely without daily interaction with their colleagues. 

Some revelled in the flexibility and productivity benefits of the situation. Those desperate to return to the office sometimes found their companies less keen on renting costly space or found they returned to a very different and quieter environment than before. 

Those wanting to continue working from home sometimes felt under pressure to return to an office which made them less productive. All this is overlaid on the toolset that has to be used by people to do their jobs.

How many applications do you have to log in to to do your work? Maybe it’s your office/productivity apps on your desktop and mobile, your company intranet, your desk reservation system, your file-sharing platform, your video conferencing or unified comms tools, logging an IT support ticket? 

Applications provided by customers, or suppliers, or partners? It seems obvious, but we know from research that people don’t enjoy hurdles being placed in front of them as a barrier to getting their work done. In the same way, customers don’t enjoy clumsy user interfaces that get between them and placing their order, if they know what they want to achieve. 

There are millions of hours invested in the science of user interaction, and they apply to employees as well as customers.

The Seven Pillars of Employee Experience
Source: IDC, 2022

There have been many exercises in digital transformation that have reduced the quality of customer interactions. Think of the times you have waited in a phone queue, repeatedly being told that your call is important, but also repeatedly offered the option of resolving your query via the website.

Statistics will say that many enquiries have been moved to lower cost digital channels, but the effect on many customer experiences is negative. Likewise, your IT helpdesk may be easy to access by email, but when email isn’t working or the user can’t access their IT, can they get their problem solved?

These issues may be small individually, but they often accumulate to become a genuine time sink for both customers and employees — and both have the option to go elsewhere.

There is a clear digital imperative for these examples, since they are decisions made with the aim of reducing cost and improving efficiency through the use of technology. However, the people going through the process are rarely going to bed at night congratulating themselves on how low-cost and efficient they were that day. 

Their objectives are not aligned to bottom-line saving initiatives — they are far more likely to be concerned with meeting their customer’s needs and doing a good job, where “good job” is a mixture of subjective and objective measures. To meet these needs, the company has to use design thinking and/or product approaches where the user need is at the forefront of each decision, rather than serving a particular process or data asset. 

It’s a well-worn phrase, but the concept of a “user journey” in which the experience of people or well-understood personas can be analysed and understood is rarely seen in our internal processes.

By taking a step back and understanding the big picture of our employee experience and how our processes and technologies help and hinder their efforts to get the job done, we can make a big contribution to employee retention and overall efficiency, which almost inevitably translates into better customer experience and outcomes. This is not a job that the technology leader can do alone, it needs collaboration and alignment across many functions.

Inevitably, however, the onus will fall on the technology team to enable the agreed strategy. 

In our European Digital Leadership Think Tank at 4pm BST / 5pm CEST on Thursday April 28, we discussed the tools and thinking needed for organisations to improve customer and employee experience and how digital leaders are involved in achieving this. To receive an invitation to future Think Tank sessions, please contact Marc Dowd at mdowd@idc.com.

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