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Why IT Must Play an Active Role in the Employee Experience

The human resources department has long owned the employee experience within higher ed, taking responsibility for employee satisfaction. But as the future of work moves towards an asynchronous environment, IT is now playing an increasing role in improving employee satisfaction.

We’ve all had the experience where technology doesn’t work. It’s frustrating, limited and even impacts the quality of work that can be done. In the end, this poor experience only leads to customers or students being directly impacted. Allowing a poor IT experience to continue will only lead to lower morale, leading employees to look elsewhere for opportunities.

Instead of waiting for HR to uncover IT needs from employee surveys, IT needs to take a more active role in improving the employee experience. This post highlights why IT needs to take ownership now and how to meet your staff’s needs as an institution.

IT’s ownership in the employee experience

At most companies, human resources use employee satisfaction surveys to optimize the employee experience. However, these surveys only covered the office culture, work environment and more recently, diversity and inclusion. IT has long been an afterthought.

That all changed when remote and flexible working options became more prevalent within organizations. Employees now depend on IT to perform their job more efficiently and meet their needs.

The problem is that many policies end up hindering employee performance because they focus on what makes the IT department more efficient, rather than focusing on employee satisfaction. But as higher education focuses on both improving the mental health of its staff and accommodating more flexible work arrangements, IT must take ownership of how to get there.

Taking ownership means partnering with human resources and taking an active role in survey development to capture feedback of the current IT state. This will help uncover ways to improve how employees work, whether it’s buying the newest technology or creating new workflows. As institutions start hiring Gen Z employees, they’ll demand to work with cutting-edge technology and will leave their job if they feel that their technology stack is leaving them behind.

How AI chatbots modernize IT support

Most employees dread having to contact IT for troubleshooting any issues, and sometimes it’s for good reason. IT issues generally take hours (if not days) to fix, leaving the employee in limbo with sub-optimal technology or hardware that eats away at their ability to do their job successfully.

The advent of AI chatbot technology enables employees to receive support whenever they want almost instantaneously. Support can include how-to guides to help employees fix their own problems or qualify the type of issue they’re having and escalate to a human as needed. This can also include links to instructional videos or training, answers to frequently asked questions or even checklists to provide proactive support.

Part of helping employees get greater satisfaction in a remote work environment is to make sure their concerns are heard and aren’t waiting around for support when needed. Employees ultimately want technology that can help them perform their job well.

Just because it might be standard operating procedure for lower priority problems to be fixed within a 48-hour resolution window doesn’t mean that the employee thinks the problem is a low priority. If anything, the employee is discouraged from contacting IT at all for future problems. By eliminating unnecessary steps and automating parts of the process, IT teams can play an active role in improving the employee experience.

Embracing continuous improvement

Human resources have long embraced surveys for continuous improvement to make their company more attractive for employees. Now, IT needs to embrace the same desire to constantly improve. But surveys aren’t a practical way for IT to improve.

Instead, it requires a consistent feedback loop that allows the department to instantly provide better technology in work experiences. A great way for institutions to enable this real-time communication is to provide a sophisticated tool for listening such as an AI chatbot. This provides IT teams with the insight to understand which topics matter, such as emerging trends and gaps in the current infrastructure.

These insights allow IT to adjust content and schedules to meet the needs of employees on their time. Rather than being in constant reactive mode, IT has a unique opportunity to finally provide proactive support to employees and address issues just in time.

Shifting the ownership of employee experience to IT provides a number of advantages to institutions. By taking ownership, IT will drive higher productivity and increase employee satisfaction. It turns dealing with IT from a dreaded relationship to a positive one and ultimately means staff can focus more time on providing stellar customer service to students.