Tuesday, 22nd September 2020

Downtime and disillusionment: how IT can support boosting employee morale

As the home becomes the new office, there has never been such a heavy reliance on technology to keep the notion of the ‘workplace’, and its culture, alive. Technology is the backbone of most 21st-century enterprises, supporting everything from data storage and security systems, to the software that employees use every day to get their work done. As employees continue working remotely, modern businesses understand that now, more than ever, a technology issue can quickly become a significant risk or loss of productivity. By Chris Terndrup, Business Transformation Architect at Nexthink.

Employees are being offered a range of new collaboration tools and ways of working from home, but they have high expectations of the technology they are given to work with. Despite the desperate need for reliable and fully-functioning tech, the reality of this is far from perfect. A recent study found that 61% of employees report IT downtime as an accepted norm in their organisation, with IT disruptions occurring on average twice a week. But how are these delays impacting the average employee’s working day? To what extent are technology issues impacting employees’ mood and motivation?

The bottom line

In the 2020 Experience Report, we’ve found that employees are being set back by an average of 28 minutes every time they encounter a technology problem at work. For projects that are particularly time sensitive, technical issues like these can result in missed deadlines and a drop in work quality, putting the employee in a difficult position through no fault of their own. This could be particularly disruptive for an employee who is due to host a presentation or live webinar.

The same study gained insight directly from IT leaders, who reported an average of two technology interruptions for each employee per week. But, with employees only reporting just over half of incidents (55%) the real productivity drain could be almost twice as bad as IT estimates. When these figures are extrapolated, the loss in productivity is evident. For a company of 10,000 employees, this downtime equates to a loss of £20 million per year. The impact of workforce engagement on a businesses’ bottom-line is very real.

Keeping colleagues connected and emotionally supported

With the recent shift to remote working, the kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms of millions of employees have become their new workplace. And as they look at their companies solely through the window of their devices, technology is expected to fill this gap. Not only is the computer now the conduit to productivity – it is also the main (for many, the only) social and collaborative tool that keeps colleagues connected.

Consequently, in addition to ensuring a consistent technology experience, increasingly IT is tasked with helping find solutions to employees mental well-being. Supporting in the deployment of employee surveys that gauge emotional stress or helping to measure where employees might be suffering from video call / meeting fatigue.

Be wary of demoralising employees

In some environments, new software is being released on a daily basis, workers are forced to learn new technological procedures and functions while still under intense pressure to meet deadlines. Throw in common IT problems, such as crashes and data loss, and it’s increasingly difficult for employees to maintain a state of flow and work productively.

In contrast, the positive link between happy employees and improved productivity is proven and well documented. A recent report found reduced stress levels in 72% of workers who have access to technology that helps them to work more productively. The same study also found that automation helps to reduce workload and stress in 64% of employees.

A happy and engaged workforce can transform a business, which is why organisations need to take practical steps to improve the digital experience for employees.

Proactive IT is the solution

To deliver high-quality IT services and improve employee satisfaction, businesses should focus on proactive IT management to prevent issues before they arise. The reality is that for every end user who takes the time to report an incident, there are many more with the same problem who suffer in silence due to the perceived hassle of reporting to IT.

Organisations shifting to a more proactive approach will see an increase in visibility into the performance, behaviour and compliance of employee devices. By analysing user engagement and implementing comprehensive, real-time monitoring of devices on the network, IT teams can shed light on the affected services underneath the radar. Not only will this help IT to provide a new level of digital satisfaction for employees, it will also have a positive knock-on effect for their level of engagement and productivity.

From the data centre to user endpoints, IT represents the nervous system for any enterprise, and every employee depends on it to be productive. Anger, frustration and wasted time are bad enough consequences of technology designed fundamentally to improve employee experience. It’s time for IT teams to take a more proactive approach, to eliminate issues before they arise and create a smooth digital experience for employees. After all, providing workers with fully-functioning and reliable technology can be instrumental in boosting their wellbeing and reinforcing the feeling of connectedness, particularly during this period of remote working.

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