HR and IT collaboration shortfall threatens digital employee experience success

4 minute read

Just 30% of HR and IT teams collaborate to deliver effective digital employee experience. And only one in 10 HR and internal communications officers are involved in decisions on collaboration and comms tools. This is putting businesses at risk of failure in the hybrid workplace, says Nicole Alvino, founder and CSO of digital employee experience platform SocialChorus

HR and IT lack of collaboration threatens digital employee experience success

Business collaboration tools have been gathering pace for several years, but the last 12 months have seen unprecedented levels of focus on internal communications.

Now more than ever employees need clear, timely, personalised and compassionate communications from their employers. However, our recent research revealed that not all organisations are achieving this. Through our research we discovered that:

• There is a stark disparity between desk based and frontline workers when it comes to digital employee experience (DEX) – with deskless workers often being overlooked

• Only 30% of HR and IT teams are working together to deliver a cohesive digital employee experience, impacting business productivity.

Embrace DEX and create equality

One of the unexpected effects of the upheaval wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic is that the inequity between desk based and deskless workers has been thrown under the spotlight.

When office employees were suddenly thrust into new ways of working remotely, either temporarily or permanently, many employers were forced to face the fact that those who have always been deskless have been getting a raw deal when it comes to DEX.

Over a third (38%) of CIOs we spoke to cite the difference in how desk and deskless workers are treated when it comes to engagement as a major challenge to digital transformation.

A fifth of HR and internal communications (IC) respondents admitted to focusing on employees in the office, with just 12% prioritising deskless workers. Additionally, nearly half of those in HR/IC roles (45%) criticised the lack of real understanding at their organisation about how to genuinely improve employee engagement, including hybrid and frontline workers.

The painful truth is that many deskless employees, including frontline workers, have been putting up with a substandard level of DEX for years – often isolating them from the rest of the business. Things cannot continue in this way. Employers are now realising that they need to ensure that every employee, whether working at home, remotely, on the frontline, or a combination of all these methods, enjoys the same DEX experience.

Work together or risk failure

One of the most concerning research findings was that an overwhelming 88% of CIOs claim the buck stops with them in purchasing decisions for collaboration and comms tools. Just 11% state it’s a decision for HR/ICs. To make a decision about a tool that directly impacts an organisation’s people, without involving the teams responsible for people, seems counter-intuitive.

Perhaps the starkest example of businesses lacking collaboration around DEX is revealed by just 30% of HR/ICs stating that they collaborate with IT to deliver successful employee engagement (although, interestingly, 53% of CIOs believe this is the case). This decision making in isolation is resulting in a DEX divide that will undoubtedly impact the bottom line of all types of companies.

Overall, it seems that many CIOs are working on a ‘pull’ basis when it comes to employee engagement. That is, they are building a system and expecting employees to arrive at the destination. However, the mentality of “we’ll build it, and they will come” is a recipe for disaster.

Top tips for digital transformation

It’s imperative that employers take action now to apply DEX principles and platforms across the entire workforce.

Communications must be built around what the workforce wants and needs to do their jobs better. Technology can underpin collaboration and close the gap between the ‘pull’ engagement favoured by CIOs and the ‘push’ strategies lauded by HR/ICs, but a commitment to treating all employees equally must be the starting point.

To establish this, business leaders must:

• Ensure that any communications strategy is aligned with business objectives. This will drive both the content and the communications channel/s used and will help to ensure it is clear where people need to go to find information quickly and easily.

• Consider how communications are being accessed and digested across the entire organisation. How do employees want and need to receive communications? It needs to be easy – regardless of role, or it will just become part of the noise.

• Make communications personal. All too often people across the whole organisations are receiving the same messaging, whether it’s relevant or not. Personalisation is absolutely key – frontline workers may need a different message to those who are deskbased. Failing to distinguish between these different audiences makes it harder for individuals to filter out what is applicable to them and can create a disconnect rather than the connection communications are trying to achieve.

• Test, learn, repeat, refine and adapt – communications success is not a finite point. It’s critical to regularly take the pulse of the organisation to see what is working and what isn’t, and if it isn’t working, don’t be afraid to make changes.

• Set out clear guidelines for working in this ‘new world’, irrespective of location, and drive behaviours from the top. For example, limit online meeting times, build in time for breaks and reduce the number of daily priorities.

Ultimately businesses will get nowhere fast without investing in digital employee engagement across the workforce –in fact, it’s the key to success. Without a strong DEX that is applied equally to all, businesses risk creating a workforce that’s feeling burnout and disconnected from the business, hindering success.

Those who seize the numerous opportunities around DEX now, and show themselves to be leaders in employee engagement, will be the ones to unite entire organisations, attract and retain talent and, critically, boost business success. 

Nicole Alvino, pictured below, is founder and CSO at SocialChorus. The research was carried out online by Opinion Matters, resulting in 750 CIOs and 752 HR/ internal comms respondents in the Nordics (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Norway), the UK and the US.

Nicole Alvino, founder and CSO at SocialChorus


Published 10 March 2021

To make a decision about a tool that directly impacts an organisation’s people, without involving the teams responsible for people, seems counter-intuitive

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