In Frank Pathyil’s many years in the intranet/digital workspace, he has noticed major changes in the way employees use their organization’s intranet. Where it was previously assumed that employees would spend much of their working time on the intranet, that is simply no longer the case, he said. Employees are not bound by a single URL to do their job.
“Smart organizations have recognized that,” he said. “They understand that the best way to ensure employees see important information is to deliver it through the channels they prefer to work in, whether that’s mobile, collaboration tools, or even the intranet. This is the hallmark of a modern digital workplace: the ability for tasks and information to follow employees wherever they are. »
Pathyil is the Director of Partner Strategy at Workgrid and is passionate about using technology to combat employee burnout and stress. As more and more employees work remotely, technology should make it easier for them.
“That’s the problem we’re helping organizations solve: improving experiences with systems so average users can quickly and easily do what they need to do so they can get back to their high-value work.” he declared.
Workgrid was a sponsor of Simpler Media Group Digital Workplace Winter Experience online event, which took place as an online event on February 3 and 4. Pathyil co-organized a session entitled “Digital Workplace Trends for 2022: Optimizing the Digital Employee Experience.” He spoke with Simpler Media Group about stressors in the digital workplace and how technology can help reduce stress.
Where organizations need to focus today
Simpler Media Group: What old stressors have been amplified during the pandemic and what new stressors are impacting employee experiences in the workplace?
Franck Pathyil: Before COVID, it was easy to fill the gaps left by poor communication and management styles, as they were mitigated by the ad hoc conversations and relationship building inherent in being in the same physical location as your colleagues. . As everyone works from different locations, however, employees do not have this advantage. They can’t just walk up to a colleague to ask a question or hear a solution while having a coffee. This is a huge source of stress for workers.
You need to invest in building culture, and culture needs to inform the digital landscape. It’s a lesson we’ve seen for digital branding a long time ago, and now it’s coming to the digital workplace.
An additional stressor in this new work paradigm is that there is no longer a geographical concept of work. Our identities were tied to working in a specific office. That’s all we know, since our school days. You attended a specific primary or secondary school. A specific university. And you shared your experience with the people who accompanied you. Now it has been disrupted. There is no more middle ground, and no way to recreate it. This makes it difficult for employees to feel connected.
This is what organizations need to focus on: how to create experience parity so that employees can once again feel like part of a cohesive structure that is bigger than themselves.
SMG: Mental health advocates have pointed out that focusing only on what individual employees can do to manage burnout will not solve the problem if the organization itself does not address its own part in Professional exhaustion. How do you think organizations themselves can help reduce burnout through policies, benefits, or cultural initiatives?
Pathil: Organizations have two levers to support employees in their fight against burnout. The first relates to the perks, compensation, and perks they offer. It is a definite driver for workers, but has limited utility. You can’t raise wages forever – at some point a person is amply compensated for the work they do, and you have to stop.
However, there is another lever that organizations can leverage, and that is the policies and practices they use to organize their workforce to get things done. This is where the real power lies, in creating a digital workplace that makes it easier for people to work. It may seem overly simplistic, but helping employees find information and complete routine tasks shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s the fast track to solving the problem of burnout because it gives employees what they need: more time to focus on higher-value work that makes them feel fulfilled.
The first step in tackling burnout is acknowledging that it’s real
SMG: How can technology in the workplace reduce workplace stress? Are there times when technology in the workplace can exacerbate stress? If so, how can this be avoided?
Pathil: All workplace technologies claim that they can reduce employee stress. Assuming the claim is true for the problem they solve, none of these technologies have considered the larger technical landscape. Employees who simply want to quickly request leave or make a requisition request because these systems are not designed for casual users. They are designed for power users who use them all the time. This leaves a huge percentage of the organization wasting time as it struggles to complete basic tasks.
SMG: What advice do you have for leaders who see burnout in their organizations?
Pathil: The first step to combating burnout in an organization is recognizing that it is a real problem, which is not as easy to do as you might think. There was a lot of surprise when organizations started announcing “return to work” plans. Many employees expressed that they did not want to return to their physical workplace, which took many companies by surprise. Why would a “return to normal” not be adopted? Although office work offered certain advantages, employers did not recognize that it also came with burdens that employees were in no rush to take up.
But once it’s recognized that burnout is real and employees need help, you need to bring culture change to your technology choice process. For example: it will not be enough to simply deploy collaboration tools and consider the problem solved. Employees have different ways of working. Employers need to accept this and adapt, implementing solutions that give each employee the power and flexibility they need for their unique situation.
SMG: As a thought leader in your company, what have been your greatest learning opportunities over the past two years in terms of learning how to address the challenges of health, wellness and burnout at work?
Pathil: I think the biggest lesson to be learned from the pandemic is the importance of humanity. When we were all together in the same office, it was easy to see each other as people. We shared meals with our colleagues. It was easy to bond. All of that has been lost to us now, however, and may never return. All we have is technology, which makes it difficult to connect on a personal level. Solving this problem, learning how to remove these barriers and allowing employees to devote themselves fully to work is an important key to ensuring the health and well-being of employees in the future.