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Employee Engagement: An IT Function Feeling Lost

NKD worked with an IT department to improve employee engagement & make them feel connected with the rest of the business in order to better fulfil their role.

It’s hard to imagine a time where IT wasn’t an ever-present, essential part of our lives. Both at work and at home, we use technology for just about everything. What we can easily imagine is how we feel when technology doesn’t work. We get angry. We’ll probably call a helpline, and get put on hold. Then, we’ll get a little angrier – and communication breaks down.

For large organisations, the experience of working with IT can sometimes feel similar; it can be frustrating, confusing and disruptive. Although technical issues can be the cause of these tensions, another significant factor is communication – or lack of it. In a large organisation, IT can feel like a distant, faceless group of people. But, the key to a successful IT function is bringing those faces into sight – making them a relatable and human part of the business.

IT operations directly influence every single employee and their ability to do their job. The way IT works also impacts the customer, whose IT experience can make or break their relationship with the organisation. NKD is working with a client to get their IT function better connected with the rest of the organisation, and better equipped to fulfil their vital role.

What were the challenges?

Our client’s IT system was being converged – it was now operating on a global scale, which meant that it had to adopt a global attitude. The problem was, both internal and external perceptions of the IT function weren’t in line with this vision. Up until this point of convergence, IT had been a decentralised and remote part of the business – both physically and emotionally. Internally, the IT function was not clear on their own strategy and how they fitted into that of the broader organisation. Externally, other departments in the business couldn’t make this connection either.

What we had here was a problem of perception. Through our Discovery work, we found that while 75% of IT respondents believed that IT makes a critical difference to the business, only 44% of respondents from other business functions agreed. In a sense, this perception was both caused and continued by a lack of communication. IT can be a difficult thing to understand. The work they do is technical and complex and is sometimes seen as serving internal needs rather than those of customers. With 56% of business function respondents convinced that IT was not aligned to the business, there was a clear need to communicate their role more effectively.

What was our approach?

Ultimately, we wanted to enable IT to work as a business partner with, not for, the broader organisation. They’re not just there to help when things break down, but are key players in the overall success, and security, of the organisation. We had to make this clear in the hearts and minds of people across the business.

We have designed a programme that will enable IT professionals to develop the knowledge and relationships needed to overcome the sense of disconnect within the organisation. The programme clarifies IT’s role in achieving the business’s overarching strategy and vision, and creates platforms for building key relationships. It facilitates cross-functional exchanges, where IT professionals complete a series of ‘deep dives’ into other business functions, where they spend a ‘day in the life’ of other departments like HR, Finance and Operations. What had been missing until now was a human connection, and nothing could provide that better than meeting face-to-face, and sharing experiences. These deep dives, not only provide the basis for IT to understand their business partners needs and challenges but a chance for other departments to fully understand how IT ‘is on their side’ and the value of working ‘As One’.

Our Discovery findings showed that IT was a mystery to most people within the organisation. There was confusion about their strategic role, and the human connection was missing. This programme allows people across the business to truly experience what others live every day, developing the empathy needed for those relationships to be most beneficial. In large organisations, the value of these kinds of relationships and understandings cannot be underestimated. It’s easy for people to get lost, and the power of perception can have a huge impact. These relationships don’t just engage disconnected employees; they also create better working relationships and more effective lines of communication – which are things a business can only benefit from, and ultimately so do customers.

Relatable? Lets have a chat.