Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Public sector mass exodus could be reduced by simply improving digital employee experience

By Steve Dunnigan, VP, Lakeside Software

Most public sector services already have accepted that it's no longer a case of when they digitalise their services, but how quickly. Despite improvements in the government’s digital services over the last 25 years, which have focused on the citizen’s online experience, many public sector organisations have not prioritised the digital experience of their own employees.

In a recent survey that gathered perspectives from 800 respondents of various managerial levels across different public sector positions, including local authority, healthcare, educational facilities and emergency services, one of the standout findings was that IT issues significantly hamper productivity for more than 80% of those public sector workers. This, in turn, leads to an alarming impact on job retention as more than one in 10 staff members (11%) have seriously considered leaving their jobs due to the severity of the IT issues they face.

The impact of IT issues on public sector workforce productivity, job retention, and employee satisfaction cited in the survey highlights the need for improvement now, especially in two key areas:  digital employee experience (DEX) and proactive IT.

The DEX factor

Digital employee experience relates to employees' interactions with the technology they encounter in their jobs, while a proactive strategy sees teams adopt a preemptive approach to IT problems.

Better visibility is critical to deliver both improved experience and proactive IT, which can contribute to reducing the epidemic of “quiet quitting” across the UK workforce, especially in the public sector where nearly two-fifths of key workers (38%) have either already taken steps to leave their current job or are actively seeking an alternative position in another field.

This overall visibility not only gives a better view and understanding of how employees are interacting with the organisation’s technologies through predictive analytics, data aggregation, and actionable insights, it also anticipates any potential issues that may occur. And a robust DEX strategy contributes to the retention of millennials and Gen Z employees, who often prioritise technology and expect seamless digital experiences at work. It also plays a crucial role in efficient onboarding processes, helping new hires quickly adapt to the organisation's culture and workflows.

IT issues that cause the most downtime include connection problems, slow-running systems, and application-related challenges. These affect a significant amount of public sector workers, with nearly 50% of respondents expressing dissatisfaction with their organisation's digital employee experience delivery.

To encourage greater recruitment and retention, public sector organisations must adopt a more proactive IT stance. This approach will bridge the gap between what IT can see and what end users are experiencing to improve digital experience for all employees.

Taking a proactive approach

The survey also revealed that more than a quarter of public sector employees express dissatisfaction with the impact technology has on their jobs, even with in-house IT teams and infrastructure. While 71% of the survey’s respondents believe their organisation equips them with the right technology, 29% remain unsatisfied.

By taking a proactive IT approach, such as empowering the IT service desk and support teams to pinpoint and resolve issues early on, or reducing the mean time to resolution and ticket escalation, IT teams can resolve emerging issues before they affect the employee experience or the organisation’s uptime With complete visibility of the IT estate, public sector organisations can mitigate disruptive scenarios, curbing associated costs and improving end user satisfaction with simple, non-intrusive technology such as end-user monitoring solutions such as Lakeside's SysTrack.

By gathering and analysing data on everything that may impact end-user experience and business productivity, and providing visibility across the entire technology estate, IT teams can support rapidly changing digital workplaces. For example, data gathered can alert tech teams to hardware that needs optimising by using data metrics on device performance to address tech deficits — such as a lack of collaborative digital tools — that are responsible for hindering productivity.

The right data must be collected and analysed for actionable insights to enable IT teams to pivot from being reactive to proactive, especially as more than a quarter of the survey’s public sector respondents did not feel the technology they use is making their jobs easier. By implementing the right monitoring solutions to detect issues such as latency, poor device performance, or crashing apps, public sector organisations can provide an enhanced digital experience.

Deploying data-driven solutions

Despite calling attention to issues and areas of dissatisfaction, the survey’s findings are encouraging, finding that 73% of respondents believe DEX is extremely important. However, there is a disconnect between the value respondents place on digital experience and the extent to which organisations deploy technology to improve it. Using DEX platforms can  streamline processes in stretched departments and deliver operational cost reductions, better service, and improved outcomes. This, in turn, provides more budget for recruitment.

By addressing the dissatisfaction and IT issues cited in the survey, public sector organisations can ensure successful employee recruitment and, more importantly, attract and retain top talent in today's competitive recruitment landscape. This is because a positive digital employee experience, characterised by a fully functioning and user-friendly digital environment, becomes a significant factor in appealing to skilled professionals. DEX solutions are flexible and can be used to monitor employee’s engagements with work-issued digital tools, whether they are at home, out on the road, or working from the office.

A well-implemented DEX strategy is integral to creating a positive work environment and, as the feedback loop facilitated by DEX solutions shows, it gives organisations the data needed to continuously improve digital tools based on employee input. The public sector needs to direct its immediate attention and efforts to ensuring these tools are implemented. Only then can the sector align with the evolving needs and preferences of an ever-changing workforce.

About the author

Steve Dunnigan is Vice President, EMEA at Lakeside Software, where he brings more than 20 years of extensive EMEA experience at organisations such as cleverbridge, Flexera Software, Innovyze and IBM for WebSphere DataPower and Business Integration practices. He has a proven record of managing, steering, and developing large-scale, high-value solutions for organisations across several different verticals. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science.