Anyone who's been following this blog knows that I've invested a lot of time recently laying out the case for why CIOs should take more ownership over employee engagement and workforce experience. With the foundational argument in place, it's now time to turn to the critical question: How should an IT department act? This can be a paralyzing question because owning the workforce experience means IT leaders must step outside of traditional technology provisioning and maintenance roles. That's why the path forward for IT leaders is to implement a series of changes in how they view themselves, employees, and the technology landscape:

  • Pivot benchmarks to account for engagement's link with IT satisfaction. Traditional IT benchmarks concern the performance of the infrastructure and employees' satisfaction with the service they receive. These are indeed important measures, but they do not give a complete view of how technology helps engage employees. We recently published our benchmarks for workforce experience that lay out what CIOs should be evaluating in addition to their customary metrics. These include employee engagement measures, employee technology attitudes, where employees learn about technology and how IT plans align with employee expectations. Evaluating both IT and the workforce in such a fashion requires the buy-in of executives, particularly the head of HR who traditionally owns employee engagement and satisfaction surveys.
  • View your technology portfolio as the linchpin of the employee experience. We know that business leaders are competing for talent and often view cutting-edge technology as a differentiator. However, if that's the extent of your organization's view on technology, it's a cursory understanding at best. We just published a technology landscape report that puts workforce technology into four categories: engagement tools, productivity tools, customer impact tools and workplace transformation tools. These disparate technologies help your organization keep employees motivated and invested, productive, and in tune with customers, all within a working environment that allows employees a work/life balance. Some of these technologies, like those in the customer impact category, have traditionally resided outside of IT's direct management. But as business leaders think about the experience a worker has throughout their career, how these different technologies connect and are accessed by employees becomes an important mission for IT leaders to tackle.
  • Instill design principles in technology development and provisioning strategies. Weaving together technology to create a positive, productive employee experience isn't simply about adhering to a reference architecture. It involves a deep understanding of the different scenarios workers encounter in their workflows. Our new report on employee-centric design calls on IT leaders to take a page from their customer experience colleagues. Your business's clients engage with your business on a myriad of devices over a number of different networks to accomplish a range of tasks — a set of conditions we see increasingly within businesses thanks to the rise of employee mobility and BYOD. Thus, CIOs must embrace a design process that breaks down different employee scenarios, analyzes the needs of the workers at different points in these scenarios, and tunes technology to mitigate problems employees encounter in these scenarios.

I encourage you to read these reports as you consider your role in creating the workplace of the future. This is an ongoing stream of research for Forrester, one that we feel requires an open dialogue. So, as you consider these documents, feel free to leave your thoughts on this topic in the comments section of this blog or the reports themselves.