Written by Meg Donovan, Chief People Officer, Nexthink

One of, if not the, biggest challenge for employers in 2021 has been tackling the Great Resignation: the global phenomenon of workers leaving their jobs during, and often as a result of, the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK has been significantly hit by this trend, with job vacancies in November reaching the highest level since records began in 2001 – 1.1 million from July to September.

Employee burnout has been widely credited as a key motivating factor driving this pattern, and HR leaders have been scrambling to maintain high levels of employee wellbeing. However, this isn’t sufficient and if improvements aren’t made – this issue with remain a burden for businesses well into 2022.

As part of a holistic solution for businesses to retain employees, they must recognise and invest in digital wellbeing. The rise of remote, and now hybrid working throughout the pandemic, has demonstrated the undeniable importance of digital both to the employees’ overall experience and their wellbeing. The Digital Employee Experience (DEX) is now a key measure of workforce satisfaction and productivity. Digital Employee Experience is the digital realm of the workplace – are you able to access what you need to get your work done, do you have the right tools and applications, are you able to connect with colleagues virtually, etc.

Rather than placing the responsibility for DEX on IT teams, HR departments must also recognise their duty to support an optimum digital experience for the workforce.

Why is DEX important?

When the pandemic forced a sudden shift to remote working, the transition was far from seamless. Nexthink’s Pulse survey found that 70% of tech leaders reported spikes in their IT ticket and call volume during remote working in the pandemic, as IT teams lost visibility over remote systems and struggled to deploy new technologies.

Tech issues and IT failures are not only an annoyance, but they interrupt productivity and act as a debilitating obstacle to employees completing their work and achieving their goals. With 2020 research showing that employees experiencing on average up to 100 hours of downtime a year due to IT problems, this is a critical source of frustration and burnout for the workforce.

HR leaders are in agreement – 78% of HR leaders believe that IT problems play a significant role in employee burnout and turnover. Despite this, there is not enough action by HR departments to collaborate with IT in order to solve digital experience problems, with the same research finding that nearly half (48%) of HR leaders don’t or were not sure if they collaborate with IT.

Some new research – Digital Sabotage & The Great Resignation – has shown that employees themselves are conscious of the role of IT in their job satisfaction. A staggering 42% of employees report that the quality of the digital workplace influences how likely they are to recommend their business to other job seekers, and 28% of employees aged 25-34 years old would consider leaving a job because of a poor IT experience.

How can HR help?

Digital wellbeing is an issue which doesn’t neatly fit into either the HR or IT department. Solving digital burnout comes down to leaders from both worlds coming together and claiming joint responsibility.

The first place to start should be identifying key objectives, timelines, budget and resources that can be committed to the project. When discussing this, it’s vital that HR and IT teams can access the same data and dashboards. This information should consist of both survey feedback but also hard, technical stats around employee device, application, and network performance data.

HR must work with IT to collect that feedback so they can determine sources of workplace frustration and progress toward their DEX goals, whether it’s reducing tickets, shifting users to a new service or improving employee perception of IT and the company’s technology workplace.

Feedback can be in the form of real-time pop-up surveys relevant to an employee’s particular experience, such as an automated pop-up survey immediately after an employee completes onboarding training. It’s also crucial to collect device and application data, to understand employee usage and sentiment of their workplace tools.

Establishing quantifiable measures with real-time feedback loops enable HR and IT to build transparent roadmaps with clear definitions of success. Measures can range from building workplace personas based on computing needs, to establishing ideal metrics for employee application usage, connectivity speed, and focus time (for example, how many digital interruptions, reboots, crashes, etc. impact a user per session?). By establishing a baseline of these metrics, you can track the impact of any measures implemented.

HR leaders must act now

To have a clear path forward in solving digital burnout, HR and IT must speak the same language and march toward the same goals.

HR departments can no longer afford to stick their head in the sand regarding digitalisation. As the workplace transforms, so does the aims and responsibilities of HR leaders. Failing to address the digital cause of employee burnout, increases the risk of the Great Resignation continuing well into 2022.