Do your people get what they need?

By Lisa Hardy: HR Business Partner, Telefónica UK

“When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse…”

You might wonder how the opening lyrics to Coldplay’s famous hymn “Fix You” could possibly be applied in the context of business technology solutions. But read them again. Ever felt that you’re getting nowhere with the technology you use at work, or that the out-dated device in your hand isn’t really helping you do your job? It’s perfectly feasible that these factors could lead to the severe exhaustion described in the third line – something that I, as an experienced HR professional, would hate to witness in the people I support.

Putting people first

It’s no secret that plenty of companies see their employees as their most valuable asset. These people need to be empowered to deliver their best, and here at O2 we’re always keen to explore how technology can help with this.

To gauge sentiment around workplace IT, we conducted a short poll of around 300 O2 Enterprise newsletter readers. And the results are mixed. The good news is that 70% of respondents feel that they get to work the way they want to, and a similar percentage feel fortunate in the level of support they receive from their organisation’s IT. But I was concerned to read that nearly 60% think there’s a better way to work than with their current IT. And frustrated employees means trouble for a business.

To avoid frustration and maximise employee satisfaction and retention, businesses need to demonstrate that they’re focusing on people first, not technology first. It’s understood that businesses impose standardisation of technology to help control costs, increase buying power and keep processes consistent. But often a blanket approach to ICT just isn’t what people need.

Bending the rules

As technology solutions become ever more diverse, the once-distinct lines between CIO, CMO and CFO are blurring. Each departmental function develops its own operating model and subsequently encounters its own differing ICT needs. Marketing might well want a mobile recording solution, while the accountants need a secure collaboration app for sharing confidential spreadsheets. In a phenomenon known as Stealth IT, ICT spend outside centralised IT teams is creeping up. Experts projected a huge increase of 20% in 2015[i] alone.

But contrary to the ominous naming, Stealth IT can be valuable. It means that individual needs are addressed, and turns the one-size-fits-all approach on its head. In my previous role as HR Business Partner for O2 Operations, I witnessed first-hand the positive impact of putting the employee experience first. Our CIO Brendan O’Rourke took on a personal objective to improve the employee satisfaction score for devices and software, and in doing so sent a clear message to each and every employee that their experience counts.

From stealth to support

I believe that, as suggested by Gartner, Stealth IT is not something to be afraid of. Nor, in the majority of cases, should it be viewed with the negativity the term suggests. So I propose a new, more accurate name – not Stealth IT, or even Shadow IT, but Support IT. This means not just implementing the processes and technology that help the business run smoothly, but that empower each individual contributor to be the best they can be. Where your people truly do “get what they need”.

Don’t get stuck in reverse. We’re determined to help businesses put their people first, so visit our website to see how.

[i] https://canopy-cloud.com/stealth-IT-spend-to-increase-by-20-in-2015