"Happy employees make happy customers," or so the saying goes. Employee satisfaction and engagement are correlated to business outcomes. Finding the right employees, providing them the tools they need to do their jobs, keeping the good ones happy, and keeping them around is the job of the whole organisation – even the CIO. Yet employees report significant dissatisfaction with the technology provided to them at work: the technology expectations gap. And that gap is more pronounced in Europe than elsewhere.
I first experienced that tech expectations gap as a consumer, not as an employee. In fact, as an employee, I can happily say I haven't experienced the frustrations of the 'gap'. I am fortunately not among the majority of employees globally who report having better technology at home than at work. But as a consumer I had to deal with someone who didn't. In my recent report, Mind The Tech Expectations Gap: Make Technology Integral To Company Culture, I referenced "bank advisors could not communicate via email with expatriate clients" as an example of employees who suffer from employers who block full access to the internet, and in this case to tools of communication. The advisor who inspired the reference was mine (or ours). For years, my French husband living in California had to stay up at night to wait for banking business hours in France to open. His bank advisor did not have external emailing privileges and could only communicate by phone or fax. And, the nine-hour time difference proved challenging to navigate without the email communication we'd become accustomed to. I'm not talking about 20 years ago. This was just a few years, and likely is still the case today although we eventually changed banks. In this case, the tech expectations gap became a serious customer experience problem and resulted in customer attrition.
Restrictions like these contribute to the lack of satisfaction with IT among employees. According to Forrsight's Telecom and MobilityWorkforce Survey Q1 2013, only 39% of employees in Germany and 47% of French employees are satisfied with the technology they are provided at work compared to 53% in the UK and 58% in the US. And, many don't feel like their management gets it either. Only 40% of French employees are satisfied with management support for new technology; compared to 59% in the US.
With technology tools front and centre in the minds of many employees, CIOs can play a critical role in steering the right course to attract and retain the company's key assets – the workforce. That role requires close collaboration with HR to embed technology into the corporate culture, to enable and promote the use of technology across the organisation, and to constantly evaluate the attitudes of the workforce in order to accommodate an ever changing workforce. Companies have long tried to attract employees by advertising cool perks like on-site massage, birthday cupcakes and the opportunity to rock out with guitars in the lobby or piano lessons on a Friday. But many should consider creating a technology culture that provides (and boasts) the tools needed to be efficient and productive. Some might think that's a given. But according to our survey respondents, it isn't.
I for one appreciate an employer who values my time enough to give me those tools. And as a consumer, I clearly opted for the bank who felt the same about their employees.
By Jennifer Belissent, PhD