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How tech drives employee engagement

A tale of two industries

By Tracey Fritcher

  • Companies with higher employee satisfaction and retention rates have implemented technology aimed at improving employee experience
  • Healthcare CHROs are ahead of the pack when it comes to HR tech
  • Financial services CHROs are less focused on the employee experience, which hurts engagement

Can technology make employees happier and more productive?

It does at the best‑performing companies, according to the findings of a global CHRO survey conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of ServiceNow.

Out of the 500 companies surveyed, those with the highest employee satisfaction and retention rates are all using technology to foster healthy corporate cultures and improve the employee experience. Conversely, companies that aren’t using technology in these ways report lower rates of retention. CHROs in this latter group are also less confident that their organizations are staffed with the employees they need for the future.  

Looking deeper at the data, the results show significant differences by industry. Healthcare CHROs have been particularly successful in using digital technology to improve the employee experience. In contrast, financial services sector companies aren’t as focused on how employees experience work. CHROs in financial services also say talent strategy, in general, is a lower priority among senior leadership. As a result, employee output is weaker and employees aren’t as engaged.

Healthy choices

Healthcare CHROs working in hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies are ahead of their peers in other industries in using technology to improve the employee experience. In fact, 68% say they’re successful compared with 55% of CHROs in other industries. They also report greater rates of success in creating consumer‑like experiences for HR services using technology (72% versus 58%).

Part of the reason is that CHROs in this field see their responsibilities as far wider than those in other industries, so they’re digitizing the day‑to‑day work experience more in order to achieve big‑picture, higher‑level HR outcomes.

Healthcare CHROs are more likely to see improving the corporate brand (80% vs. 66%) and driving corporate performance (78% vs. 62%) as core responsibilities, over and beyond traditional human‑resources tasks.

This doesn’t appear to be an overnight phenomenon. Healthcare CHROs were more than twice as likely as financial services sector CHROs (32% vs. 14%) to say, with hindsight, that their core role three years ago was creating an amazing employee experience, according to the survey.

There’s also a difference when it comes to the scope of the human resources within an organization. Healthcare CHROs are more than twice as likely as financial services CHROs (14% to 6%) to contribute to organizational strategy beyond traditional HR tasks.

In other words, when the CHRO is empowered to improve how employees work, employees work better.

Number crunched

CHROs in the financial services sector work in an environment that puts less emphasis on talent strategy and using technology to boost engagement and drive business results.

While 24% of all CHROs strongly agree that other senior executives are increasingly taking on important roles in talent strategy, just 6% of financial services sector CHROs strongly agree. Financial services CHROs are also less likely to strongly agree that improving the quality of the employee experience is a priority for senior management (16% vs 40%).

These results appear to be many years in the making: Just 14% of financial services CHROs say, with hindsight, that their core role three years ago was creating an amazing customer experience, compared with 33% of all CHROs, according to the survey.

Today, CHROs in financial services appear less empowered to drive digital transformations. Far fewer say their core role is to digitize parts of the employee experience (18% of financial services CHROs compared with 32% of all CHROs) or to list as a core goal the use of technology to foster a healthy corporate culture (54% vs. 72%).

Financial services firms are paying for it. They’re less successful at meeting the demand for skills their companies require, including industry‑specific expertise (46% vs. 71% in other industries) and soft skills like client management and communication (38% vs. 54%). They’re also less likely than all others to say they’ve built a workforce to meet future business objectives (28% vs. 42% others).

There's a seismic shift happening in the way work gets done in organizations and what employees expect. CHROs are at the heart of that change. By thinking strategically about how people experience work, they have a chance to lead the digital‑transformation projects that will define successful companies in the years to come.

Tracey Racette Fritcher is Global Director of HR Transformation at ServiceNow, leading a team of former practitioners who help clients improve employee experience. She's previously held senior roles at Baker Tilly, Oracle and Best Buy, among others.

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