There’s been a lot of discussion recently around employee experience – for example the role of HR professionals as ‘Chief Experience Officers’ and the question of who should own the employee experience.
Key to employee experience is creating a culture and environment where people are engaged, happy and productive in their work – and the technologies provided by organisations to their employees are central to this. In an increasingly tech-driven world, providing a digital workplace that improves productivity and supports flexible ways of working is key to employee engagement, workforce effectiveness and organisational performance.
The implication therefore being that HR professionals need to pay much closer attention to workplace technology practices, trends and opportunities than was previously the case.
If IT impacts the employee experience, it impacts HR
One such key area of technology is ‘Identity and Access Management’ (IAM), which at its core is about enabling individuals to access the right resources at the right times and for the right reasons.
Defined in IT terms, this is an administrative task focused primarily on security and compliance. But IAM is increasingly defined in business and people terms – giving employees fast, easy access to the applications they need to perform their jobs and greater autonomy in doing so.
For example, can employees re-set a password without getting stuck in a queue of ‘trouble tickets’? And can their line manager authorise them onto the system or do they have to wait for IT to do so? Failure to achieve this kind of ‘frictionless’ IAM capability will result in hours lost as employees wait for IT to resolve the problem and raised blood pressure as they fret about the time taken to do so.
IAM therefore speaks directly to productivity and employee satisfaction – issues that HR professionals both care about and are increasingly targeted upon.
HR needs to represent the employee in conversations with IT
Clearly, no-one expects HR professionals to know the finer technical details of IAM – but there is a role for them to represent the employees’ perspective on this issue. For example, IT managers should understand the importance to employees of having a single password to access multiple applications – particularly to those employees that don’t necessarily access these systems very frequently. Equally, HR might help IT to set priorities: for example, employees in a professional services company may want access to key applications via their home browser, something that would enable them to work more productively from home and which would support flexible working – an agenda that may not be ‘top of mind’ for the IT department.
Of course, IAM is not the only technology that touches upon the employee experience. For example, being more productive ‘on the go’ is a priority for many employees but can only be implemented with the help of IT. And the emergence of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has been welcomed by Finance as a way of cutting costs but resisted by IT over worries about support implications and security risks: surely HR has to step into this debate to represent the employee perception of greater flexibility and convenience?
HR and IT need to be comrades not combatants
Traditionally, the ‘soft’, people-centric skills of HR and IT’s ‘harder’ technically-driven approach have meant that the two functions have not always seen ‘eye to eye’. However, not only is IT considered a ‘shared service’ but it has become a business enabler whose role is to meet the needs of its internal customers in the business units; and technology is having ever-greater influence upon the employee experience.
A mutuality of interest is therefore emerging and HR coming to grips with technology is increasingly a requirement – and an opportunity.
Author: Constantine Kastrisios
To learn more about how digital workplace technology including IAM can transform your organisation’s employee experience, please get in touch on 020 7118 8770 or via our contact page.