A Focus on Employee Experience: From the CIO Lens
Work is more remote, decentralised, and digitised than ever before and employers are under great pressure to attract and retain top talent. Penelope Prett, CIO of Accenture, shared her insights on how technology can help create a vibrant new type of employee experience and keep workers energised.
Let’s face it, the Great Resignation is real. This summer, the World Economic Forum reported that at least 40% employees across industries were planning to quit their jobs in the next 3-6 months and many are following through on their plans. Interestingly, 36% of those who resigned did so without having another job lined up.
In the U.S., 19 million workers have quit their jobs since April 2021, 4.3 million alone in August 2021. In the UK, the number of open jobs surpassed 1 million for the very first time in August. Research shows 1 in every 4 workers is planning to switch employment. The story rings true elsewhere in the world too. Clearly, employers have got something wrong somewhere. But, how can they get it right?
At Workday’s virtual event, Conversations for a Changing World, Penelope Prett, CIO of Accenture, shared her insights on how firms can attract top talent and keep them energised by designing a whole new brand of employee experience.
The ‘New Possible’ in Employee Experience
Prett described the critical role technologies such as virtual reality is playing in the employee experience shift at Accenture, and how it is enabling the creation of a borderless and seamless office of the future.
“The most important thing that I can stress about rolling out these capabilities — and attempting to engage the population within to raise satisfaction and productivity — is the concept of change management.” - Penelope Prett, Chief Information Officer, Accenture
Accenture is using virtual reality to create onboarding and recruiting experiences for employees. According to Prett, digital twins—virtual versions of physical offices—let employees have an “in-office” experience. “Our employees can still have the experience of being in an office, and connecting with others in a virtual setting,” said Prett.
Prett highlighted the importance of creating the right business case, and fast, to leverage technologies that can be a real differentiator in attracting the right talent.
“When we back a technology that we believe is transformational for the employee experience, we spend less time focused on ROI and more focused on how to lead the market on employing that capability to create engagement with our population.”
While Prett feels that spending time analysing is vital to get the prioritisation right, businesses must also get the balance right. “Spending too much time will cause you to lag in the market,” she warned.
Winds of Change
For many companies, work is more remote, decentralised, and digitised than ever before. The “workplace” is more a state of mind than a brick-and-mortar entity, and there is no going back to clocking nine to five in the office every day. Hybrid work is the future, and the data confirms it.
To stem the tide of the Great Resignation and truly delight their workers, employers must first understand their employees.
According to the Accenture research piece, “Future of Work: Productive Anywhere,” 83% of workers across industries indicated they expect and want a hybrid work experience, where they spend anywhere between 25% to 75% of their time in the office. Reaffirming the trend, Workday’s Employee Expectations report revealed hybrid employees feel more engaged at work than their onsite counterparts. The shift is happening, but what should organisations be thinking of before they adopt new technologies to enable their workers to thrive in a hybrid work environment?
“The most important thing that I can stress about rolling out these capabilities—and attempting to engage the population within to raise satisfaction and productivity—is the concept of change management,” said Prett.
Prett also cautions employers against getting caught up in the excitement of the technology experience. She advises leaders to ensure that due diligence is done to train people on how to use these tools.
“I encourage anyone who's experimenting with these technologies to spend a little bit of time thinking about the change management aspects of rolling them out and make sure you get that right.”
The C-suite Imperative
The challenges and opportunities posed by the pandemic have inspired the C-suite to collaborate in new ways and build greater synergy in their agendas. CIOs and CHROs, for example, are now working closer than ever before to address many of the new “people imperatives” and considerations like remote work. Prett described her relationship as CIO with Ellyn Shook, CHRO at Accenture, and how that is shaping the future of work at the firm.
“Ellyn constantly challenges us to think about the next thing. Having a strong business sponsor like that for any domain, not just HR, is really important. These sponsors help challenge us and think about the outcomes of what the technology is meant to achieve and keep pushing the borders of how we can apply new technologies to achieve the same outcomes: to give our employees options or choices.”
Prett believes employees today have higher expectations from their employers and are more aware of what they want their overall employee experience to be. She highlighted the importance of the CIO and CHRO functions working closely to deliver an omni-channel experience with consistent levels of delight across all channels.
“In the old days, IT could dictate because there was one technology thread and you used it or you didn't. Today, there are so many choices and employees have such a natural understanding of how to be intuitive in these environments and what seamless experiences should look like.”
It’s Business, But Make it Personal
The mass exodus of workers has employers unnerved. Most didn’t see it coming. To stem the tide of the Great Resignation and truly delight their workers, employers must first understand their employees. Job satisfaction or a great compensation package are no longer the clinching factors for talent retention. Workers are looking for something more.
The challenges and opportunities posed by the pandemic have inspired the C-suite to collaborate in new ways and find synergy in their agendas.
They are looking for a renewed sense of purpose in their jobs. They are longing for an investment in the human facet of work. They want meaningful interpersonal connections with their workmates and managers, and a shared sense of identity. And they need a leadership that is empathetic and compassionate.
Prett shared some advice for employers looking to elevate employee experience within their firms.
“I think the most important thing that we can do is to remember employees have a personal life, and they have a professional life. They are balancing balls in the air, just like all of us. What we most want is to provide them with a borderless, seamless, completely intuitive experience that raises their productivity and allows them to engage with the clients we want to serve in meaningful ways.”
An innovative employee experience program that is built on state-of-the-art technology, is personalised, and considers social, emotional, mental health, and diversity and inclusion factors may prove to be a powerful elixir that can transform the Great Resignation into the “Great Attraction” for organisations.