Executive Education

Study: IT woes are pushing employees out the door

It’s 4 p.m. and only one email stands in the way of your weekend plans. But as you’re about to hit send, your WiFi disconnects. You look around and your tech-savvy desk neighbor has already left, the admin is nowhere to be found and you can’t email IT to submit a ticket because you’re not connected to the internet.

According to a new study, these IT-related headaches occur more often than ‘now-and-again.’ And enterprise IT issues are doing far more than slowing productivity —  they’re driving people out the door.

The report – conducted by Nintex – reveals that two-thirds (62 percent) of U.S. employees say their company’s IT processes are broken. Of the respondents who say IT functions are broken, technology troubleshooting tops the list as the biggest pain point. Issues with new equipment setup; requesting new equipment; and troubleshooting app-related problems are also among the ranks. Other administrative burdens include problems printing documents and resetting passwords, according to employees surveyed.

Jammed printers, forgotten passwords or a broken computer mouse may seem like only minor frustrations, but their impact on employees should not be ignored. The study found that one-third of surveyed employees are actively looking for new jobs. Among those, 86 percent say broken processes are a sizeable factor.

Who to blame? And for what?

The study raises two prominent questions – Who is to blame for IT’s trouble? And besides pushing employees out the door, what are the consequences of a less-than-stellar IT operation?

On the question of accountability, the majority of employees (73 percent) point fingers at the IT department. Leadership doesn’t escape blame, either – 13 percent of respondents hold their organization’s chief executive accountable for IT shortcomings.

Even with mixed blame, there’s no question on the widespread impact of IT’s operational dysfunction. The study uncovers that IT process problems tempt employees to engage in the dangerous practice of shadow IT. In fact, 40 percent of respondents said they’d used apps and devices for work that were not company-approved. Can you blame them? If basic IT processes are slowing down productivity, you’ll turn to public hotspots or personal computers to get the job done.

For companies, this is a risky practice that can expose confidential corporate data via insecure, unsanctioned platforms.

Fixing what’s broken

Companies that ignore broken corporate processes are at risk to lose their talent. While turnover is never favorable from a cost perspective, attrition impacts the long-term company culture, too.

For leaders looking to solve broken processes, a committed strategy is required. Here are a few mistakes every organization should avoid.

Creating an IT silo: Don’t put IT in a corner. It’s intimidating to walk up to an IT employee whose back is turned to you as they work feverishly on their computer. Break this notion that IT is separate by incorporating them into larger office operations. All too often, IT departments aren’t seen as an extension of the company but rather its own separate entity. If your employees don’t refer to IT staff as their co-workers, incorporate the IT leader in larger company decisions and initiatives. When others can see their impact, IT will be (rightfully) viewed as part company-wide initiatives and goals.

Being afraid to automate: Many of the respondents’ IT complaints stemmed from processes that can easily be automated. Whether it’s requesting a new mouse or fixing a jammed printer, these functions can and should be automated. By adding automation tools into the fold, companies allow employees to dedicate time to more important tasks that require skilled input. Instead of spending an hour filling out a request form, marketing, sales and financial departments (among others) can invest their brain power in the tasks that matter.

As Nintex’s study reveals, broken processes drive attrition rates. While broken IT processes were the most widely cited by respondents, they aren’t the only department with skeletons in their closet. Study respondents said there are also onboarding, administrative and document management problems that kill productivity.

With a proactive strategy, companies can make strides to improve efficiency, boost morale, and create a work environment employees want to invest in.

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Ryan Duguid
Ryan Duguid is the Senior Vice President of Technology Strategy at Nintex, a workflow and content automation platform. He has more than 20 years of global IT experience and works closely with organizations to define automation and technology strategies.