Should 2018 be the year of employee experience?\nCIOs had a variety of answers to this question. Some honestly asked if they had missed a new buzz word. Fortunately, this was not the case for all CIOs. CIOs--in the know--suggested that 2018 should be the year that employee experience becomes a real trend. They were glad that the employee experience had emerged as a topic. For some of these CIOs, employee experience was a continuing rather than a new theme. They claimed that IT\u2019s biggest clientele is peer employees, so why wouldn\u2019t there be a focus upon employee experience.\nOther CIOs suggested that 2018 is becoming the year of everything. These CIOs, nevertheless, suggested that employee experience should be considered in every project. They said a better question for the CIOs is how do you balance employee experience in projects? They suggest that employee experience is one dimension of a radar chart for project decision-making. It's should be\u2014in their opinion--a key factor in project quality attributes. They claim that today\u2019s focus should be on transforming culture and \u2018digital dexterity\u2019. The goal, they say, should be to create a better experience, especially for the growing digital workforce of millennials and Gen Z.\nCIOs, in general, get the connection between employee experience and achieving business market goals. They say you cannot achieve your business\/customer goals if the tools to do so are hard for your employees to engage effectively. CIOs see two themes driving technology investment today, experience and speed. They say that every initiative should fall into one of these two buckets.\nWhere can better process and technology improve employee experience?\nIf employee experience is the sum of all interactions with your business, how can process and technology improve it. CIOs believe many processes must change. They shared that we still do performance evaluations that are somewhat tied to compensation. And even though they are online, they remain tedious. The process needs to improvement and then we can have better software.\nCIOs smartly say that everything starts by identifying, contacting, and attracting the right talent. This means creating different types of online materials for recruiting and for positioning job descriptions. Personally, I have found in the past that many large companies make it difficult to apply. They require you to convert your resume via an arcane translator that never gets anything right. These firms, that do not get what Geoffrey Moore calls the move from \u2018systems of records\u2019 to \u2018systems of engagement\u2019, will soon find themselves unable to acquire the best talent. Confirming this one CIO said that in talking to their recent job applicants, they learned that they wanted jobs sites to look more like the places that they shop online. This CIO suggested that it is important to empower internal teams to improve processes to serve customers and employees better.\nCIOs suggest that it is time to take a step back. We need ask why do you have the tool? What do you want out of it?\u00a0 What other tools are part of the ecosystem? So often, we want to buy speed and agility and then work the process. CIOs suggest that this instinct is bad. After all, they say that what we\u2019re looking at is how to create agile performance management. CIOs say that you want quick, ongoing, 360-degrees, engaged, and transparent. Ted Coine, author of Talent Culture, shared at this point what Vineet Nayar wrote several years ago, \u201cEmployees First, Customers Second. Leaders can use IT to help make employees\u2019 jobs richer and more meaningful ...but usually more software equals more paperwork.\u201d\nCIOs added on by saying that poor employee experience is a death by 1000 paper cut issues. There are lots of small processes. These include everything from reimbursements to vacation requests that get in the way of employee happiness and engagement. CIOs said that when they think about the root problems here, a big cause of poor employee experience is corporate \u2018legacy tech debt\u2019. Amazingly, they suggest that lots of leaders use \u2018legacy tech debt\u2019 as an excuse for not creating a plan for changing things. One CIO said that they talk to executives in information security, analytics, and technology all the time and have not found one that doesn\u2019t say the debt of past tactical engagements are not a drag against future investment.\nCIOs think it is a good idea to make things easier by updating process or using better technology. One CIO gave the example of Major US Healthcare Company located in the Southwest. The CIO said when you talk to their people, they will tell you tasks require 2 and 3 different healthcare systems. Billing is a minimum of 2. And this complexity adversely impacts their customers.\nIn streamline processes with employee experience in mind, CIOs say that they don't want to make employees jump through silly hoops. Instead, they want to use technology to connect people, personalize their experience, and enable flexible work models. All contribute to a better experience and most important happier, more engaged employees. CIOs think the goal for all projects should not be what process or technology to use. The outcome with employee experience should be well defined first, then you can apply culture, process, and technology to improve the journey.\nDo your business stakeholders get the relationship between employee experience and customer experience?\nCIOs were somewhat surprised by this question. One asked me whether I knew the key difference in Zappos mindset? They said, the customer is already on the employee\u2019s mindset. This CIO continued by saying if your culture is already customer obsessed, then your place of most friction is going to be removing blockers from employee to service.\nCIOs say that employees may be going through \u2018administrivia hoops\u2019 to make something happen, and the customer and business manager both are asking "why is it taking so long?" One CIO shared that his company\u2019s CEO addressed an internal innovation summit recently. The CEO challenged every leader attending to focus on the evolution of the customer to an information managed business. The employee-customer interaction points were a critical part of that focus. CIOs were candid with me that most businesses are making two transitions at once - how they use and provide information and how they support their customers using information. Building employee and customer experience simultaneously, however, was not seen as an easy task.\nWhat are the biggest gaps to IT employee engagement?\nOn the IT side of things, CIOs suggest that it\u2019s always important to take care of your team. With so many unfilled jobs in technology, it has becoming more visible how well you are doing. CIOs suggest that there are many organizations who need to think more about employee experience and figure out how to move IT from a \u2018culture of compliance\u2019 to \u2018a culture of trust\u2019.\nCIO said that it is critical to empower teams to assess and respond. There should clear away layers of authorizations. It is critical to trust your IT teams. Employee Engagement starts by re-discovering empathy.\u00a0 IT isn\u2019t a place of power\u2014it is a place of service. We serve each other and we seek to find the best answer together. This can start by saying an authentic thank you when it is deserved and then recognizing an employee in front of the whole team.\nOne CIO wondered here if Delta employees felt the technology has improved their experience. Delta has a single system feeding their customer and employee systems, but gate attendants still use terminal emulation software for some tasks. Overall, the CIO position shouldn\u2019t be a place of where unilateral decisions are made. The interlock with the business isn't a single project entity. There must be long term strategy. Growth in employee experience is often a result of that strategy.\nCIOs find the biggest gap tends to be around culture and how IT is treated and valued by others. As an intermediate step, CIO say look at graduated governance. They discussed here the use of risk and change impact as metrics to \u2018right size\u2019 the authorization. We all want faster time to market. This is a key area of pent-up value to be released.\nIT employees want to be trusted partners, involved in all stages of problem-solving and innovation. This means processes should connect with them at all stages. Automated processes need to do the same. CIOs suggest that we live in the age of UX and transformation! Think creatively. Great leaders, engage and know their teams. Great leaders demonstrate real concern and compassion and they are in the front when needed and in the back when the team is recognized.\nHow are you helping managers to engage their teams?\nCIOs say that whether employees work for the CIO or not, if they have an idea, they should raise it. CIOs suggest that having customer passion matters. To be fair to any leadership team you need a variety of personalities at the top for good execution.\nIn IT, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that people are not widgets. They aren't uniform. One CIO said that we are wetware - messy by design. For all the AI and machine learning to enable them, employees are still people. Buyers are still people. And investment needs to go toward delivering to people in the end.\nCIOs are concerned that many organizations do not consider employee experience as valuable to their business success. Does the organization even have a shared vision? If not then it is difficult to drive any initiative like improving employee experience meaningfully across the organization. The balance of power has been with employees for at least a decade. The ability to start a business or freelance or leave has never been higher.\nI had a boss once that viewed his employees as tools or even worse, expendable material. CIOs are clear that employees are asset that can grow in business value with organizations and managers that are focused on employee engagement and changing for the better employee experience.\u00a0 For this reason, business and technical teams need to aim at improving employee experience one interaction at a time.