Employee Experience and Modern IT

January 26, 2022 / Ben Bajarin

Research Methodology

  • 1,163 USA respondents currently employed/working
  • Representative demographics of age, gender, industry
  • Survey completed January 2022

Our first research study of the year was an encompassing look at the modern employee experience from a range of vantage points. One of the lenses we looked through, and the one I want to focus on today, was employee experience as it relates to modern IT. Anyone who has worked at an organization big enough to have an IT department of some kind knows there are often frustrations, to put it kindly. There is overwhelming evidence that COVID has forced most IT departments to speed up their digital transformation, and as a result, we see increasing opportunities for companies to modernize their practices and, as a result, better empower employees to succeed in their roles.

Grading IT
We asked employees a range of questions looking to gauge areas where their IT department is doing well and others where employees face frustrations. Interestingly, for those employees who were working remotely, 77% agreed their IT department handled the transition from office to remote well. Given the abruptness of COVID and the rapid shift for many to move from in-office to remote, strong sentiment around IT handling this transition highlights a much more nimble enterprise environment than we had even five years ago, and much of that is due to the shift to cloud-based solutions.

Another positive for IT departments is around the software options provided for employees. 74% of respondents agreed they were happy with the software options their IT departments supported. 78% of respondents also agreed their IT department made it easy for them to acquire and use the software/apps that were critical to their everyday tasks.

Looking at some of the broader frustrations of employees with their IT departments, a few areas stood out. This subject became much more nuanced when we isolated small businesses from large enterprises. Small businesses, those with 500 or fewer employees, tend to have (but not always) more flexible options when it comes to hardware and software supported in their workplace. The highest levels of negative sentiment were recorded within larger organizations, those with 500 or more employees, and specifically around their hardware options. Within this cohort, 20% of respondents indicated dissatisfaction with the options provided to them around notebook/desktop and accessories/peripherals.

What Employees Want from IT
Many IT decision makers would be the first to tell you that their purpose is not about harnessing the love of the employees they serve. Yet, there is no question that providing employees with the best tools to do their job highly correlate with a positive sentiment towards IT. Making sure employees have the tools they need to work efficiently and securely is a big part of a corporation’s success. When we look at employee satisfaction within a range of areas regarding their IT department, a few important insights stand out.

The most satisfied employees with their IT department experience had a few foundational things in common.

Flexibility. The more flexible an organization was in supporting a wide range of hardware and software, the higher sentiment on both IT and the overall workplace experience. Purely from an employee satisfaction viewpoint, employees who indicated a wider choice of software, hardware, and accessories were much more satisfied with their employee experience than those who had more restricted options. And within hardware and software, having wider support of hardware options seemed to impact employee satisfaction more than software options. This could be because more organizations already have a wide range of software options but are still limited on their hardware (laptop/desktop/accessories) support.

Better Communication. Something that came out of both our qualitative interviews as well as our quantitative study was a high degree of frustration with their IT department’s communication around upcoming plans. This could be things like updating software, security protocol rollouts, etc. Employees understand the need to be on the latest software, and required processes around security and device management are necessary, but these changes can often be poorly communicated or forced upon someone before they are ready. Clear communication on process, timeline, and, more importantly, what IT expects in terms of compliance can all aid in more positive experiences for employees. As an additional note on this topic, this was another area where employees had more frustrations with IT at larger companies than at smaller ones.

Support Macs. Lastly, our research showed loud and clear that employees want Macs to be supported by their enterprises. This stood out clearly in a few ways. First, 60% of respondents in our study stated they agreed with the statement, “I wish my company would give us the option to use Macs.” Interestingly, 27% of respondents strongly agreed with this statement. Second, we saw a much higher degree of employee satisfaction with enterprises that supported Macs vs. those that did not. It was interesting to discover that the number of enterprises that support Macs is higher than we had initially thought. Yet they do so in a somewhat limited fashion leading us to believe the support offered is mostly performative. Either you have to be at a certain level in order to get or request a Mac, or you have to make a special request and jump through many hoops. As more enterprises every year add more premium Windows PCs to their options list, the cost is less of a point now than any point in history for an organization to fully embrace the Mac. Along those lines, with valid solutions like Jamf, Kandji, and more that exist to make Macs as easy to support as Windows devices, fully supporting Macs at all levels of enterprise compliance is easier than ever. At the end of the day, employees want the option for Macs was a request that we heard loud and clear.

From an employee experience perspective, understanding how IT departments can better serve their employees and empower them to get the most done with as little friction as possible remains a strategic goal. This is particularly true in the current environment we see today, where competition for talent is at an all-time high. Organizations that do not provide the flexibility in all aspects of employee experience run the risk of losing top talent to organizations that provide the environment they desire. Interestingly our data indicated some leading signals in this direction. Looking at employees who had already left their job, or were planning to leave in the next 6 months, this cohort tended to be less satisfied with their IT department experience, dissatisfied with their range of options of devices and software, and their company did not officially support Macs. A follow up survey will be necessary to tie specific correlation to these instances, however, the data does suggest a higher level of dissatisfaction with a company experience when these variables are isolated. 

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