Dec 04, 2020 Navpreet Kundal

3 reasons why 2021 will be the year of digital employee experience

There’s no doubt about it: 2021 will be a defining year for digital employee experience. But what is it and why should you care?
3 reasons why 2021 will be the year of digital employee experience

What is digital employee experience (DEX)?

In short, DEX is about getting technology to work for your employees. It’s about creating seamless digital interactions, improving IT support for remote and office-based employees, and understanding how employees engage with technology in a way that enables them to be productive and engaged.

But why does it matter so much?

That one’s easy. DEX enables IT to focus on employees’ priorities above and beyond anything else. It unearths employees’ frustrations linked to shortfalls in their technology experience and compels IT organizations to think realistically about employees’ relationship with technology rather than how IT thinks (or even wants) employees to use technology and services.

Organizations that focus on DEX in 2021 will reap the rewards

This isn’t based on conjecture but fact.

Need convincing? Then read on…

1. A bad DEX results is a bad customer experience

Many large organizations have rightly spent marketing budget in 2020 on branding and loyalty. According to Gartner:

“The COVID-19 crisis has shifted CMOs’ focus from customer acquisition to customer retention and growth.”

The message most often relayed has been “we’re still here and by your side”. The reasons why are self-explanatory, driven by the pandemic’s economic impact on organizational spend and the well-known influence of emotions on buyers’ decision making.

The hope is these efforts will pay off in 2021, deterring a drastic drop in the bottom line. But there’s only so much marketing any organization can do—eventually they’re going to need to interact with real humans: your employees. As spokespeople for your brand, employees have the power to define how the outside world sees your organization.

Consider the stats: Companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147% and companies that excel at customer experience have 1.5 times more engage employees than companies with poor customer experience.

Yet, 2020 has seen a drastic rise in digital disruption that has impacted employees’ ability to work and stay engaged. This is in part due to the sudden shift to remote working, resulting in 37% of employees feeling disrupted by technology problem. The sad truth is this sense of disruption is only exacerbated when IT tries to help.  68% of employees are disrupted—to the extent that sometimes they cannot work at all—when their IT issue is being resolved.

To weather a storm as big as a global pandemic, IT must see their employees for who they are: customers. Doug Conant’s famous saying provides food for thought on this matter:

“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”

Give employees an IT service that empowers, engages, and excites them and they’ll make your customers a load more willing to do business.

2. Digital transformation will fall short if they don’t focus on employees’ needs

The percentage of workers around the world that is permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021, according to a survey from Enterprise Technology Research (ETR).

One factor cited for this decision is the increase in productivity: 48.6% reported that productivity has improved since workers began working remotely. It’s a sad state of affairs that employees are working harder than ever while at home but not always thanks to technology—at least not in the way you think.

Research shows that employees are “putting up” with bad digital experiences rather than feeling enabled by technology. In fact:

Large enterprises are undergoing a huge cultural and technological shift as they gear up for a long-term migration to remote working. But they set themselves up for failure if they don’t consider what employees need to be their best selves from anywhere.

IT organizations must give employees a change to voice their opinion on their technology experiences, however uncomfortable those home truths may be. It’ll inevitably unearth pain points that lead to positive evolution not only in the technology infrastructure, but in how IT interact with the employees they support.

3. Digital business initiatives have the attention of the CEO

If anything can convince you of the importance of DEX, it’s this: CIO’s have never held the attention of CEO’s like they do right now. For years, CIO’s have tried time and again to get organizational buy-in to vast digital business initiatives, but budgets have always stagnated. And then the pandemic hit, businesses committed to long-term remote working strategies and heads turned in the direction of the department that can make that change happen: the IT organization.

Indeed, Gartner reports that the pandemic has resulted in:

  • 80% of CIO’s educating the CEO and other senior stakeholders on the value of IT
  • An average IT budget increase of 2% in 2021

Given that digital business initiatives are high up on the business agenda, measuring their impact in tangible ways will be a priority for CIO’s in 2021.

One obvious way to do that is by measuring DEX.

Being able to report on employee satisfaction with their workplace technology and linking it to the bottom line will be a critical way CIO’s justify IT spend, necessitating the need to formalize DEX initiatives and report on their success.

There’s no doubt, therefore, that we’ll see an increase in adoption of experience-level agreements (XLA’s) to track and quantify improvements in DEX and give the business greater visibility into the impact of IT on the working lives of employees.

Get started with DEX

A great DEX undoubtedly has huge benefits to organizations. Technology is the great enabler of innovation, productivity, and change, but a bad digital experience can impact employees’ ability to work and engage. Given the inextricable link between job satisfaction and technology, DEX will be a deciding factor in organizations’ ability to thrive in 2021.

It’s never too soon to focus on DEX, starting with:

  • How to create frictionless employee experiences that mirrors the level of service provided to customers
  • A formal process for gathering employee sentiment to unearth their priorities, needs, and frustrations and transform those insights into actionable tasks.
  • How to measure and report on DEX by leveraging XLA’s

Want to learn more? We’re hosting a three-part webinar to prepare IT leaders for the year of DEX. Find out more here.