ORLANDO, Fla. — The CIO is accountable for managing a litany of enterprise components that shape the employee experience. The growing list of responsibilities includes parts of the IT estate, such as critical software tools and digital platforms.
But CIOs must also be leaders in company culture and work processes.
Workers believe that the CIO is among the top three executives with the most influence in shaping employee experience in the enterprise, outranking even the chief human resources officer, according to a Gartner global survey of 5,000 employees.
With power comes responsibility — and tech leaders can’t get complacent.
“I told you that workers already believe that you have more influence on their positive employee experience than the CHRO,” Tori Paulman, senior director analyst at Gartner, said during Gartner’s IT Symposium/Xpo 2023 earlier this month. “But I also believe that they’re expecting and waiting for you to believe it.”
CIOs must work to improve how employees across departments interact and leverage tools in their day-to-day work. IT leaders must also use their leadership skills to ensure positive change can take place.
Here's a list of three actions workers expect from their CIOs, curated from Paulman's presentation:
1. Help workers facilitate hybrid equity — and avoid wasteful meetings.
While oftentimes dreaded, meetings are a necessary part of getting work done. Poorly conducted, unplanned meetings can feel like a waste of time, deteriorating the employee experience.
Employees expect leaders to ensure meetings bring value. This could be done by assigning work to do before a meeting and planning to discuss the findings.
IT leaders can also mitigate some of the angst by ensuring workers are able to easily book rooms and schedule in-person days for intentional collaboration.
“The first thing you can do is investigate workplace experience apps,” Paulman said.
2. Provide radical transparency and privacy by design.
Monitoring often has a bad connotation, especially when it’s used in the context of the enterprise. With the wave of post-pandemic productivity paranoia, businesses wanted more information about what their employees were doing during the workday, often to the dismay of workers.
But monitoring doesn’t always have to feel like Big Brother. CIOs can use transparency and privacy by design to gain employees’ trust and highlight the benefits.
The top reasons employees cited for opting into monitoring included alerts of training classes or career development, support finding information or data and proactive outreach from support teams when facing an issue, according to Gartner’s research.
“We’re on the eve of this widespread use of generative AI, which you can use in supporting your employees, but we have to understand how they feel about data monitoring,” Paulman said. “Because we know we can’t have generative AI or AI at all without getting data.”
IT leaders can use interest in generative AI to underline the need for caution when using outside tools. Paulman recommended CIOs publish a list of endorsed tools for business processes with linked resource guides. They can also help teams create “how we work” strategies to reduce app duplication.
3. Partner with HR and business leaders to let workers build digital skills.
There’s an ongoing upward shift in workers’ proficiency with digital technology, according to Gartner data.
Workers believe the company benefits from those skills, and CIOs must champion the process, according to Paulman.
Nearly all — 93% — of workers want their knowledge of digital tech to positively impact their careers. Paulman said IT leaders must invite participation from digitally skilled workers to solve business problems by partnering IT and business workers, such as through a hackathon or other community-building events.
CIOs should also partner with HR to ensure workers who want to continue improving their skills have ways to do so, through training videos or other methods.