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The business IT dilemma: How to cater to the technology demands of younger workers while keeping the business secure

The business IT dilemma: How to cater to the technology demands of younger workers while keeping the business secure

By Geoff Hixon, VP at Lakeside Software

Early-career employees want more autonomy at work than their more established counterparts, and this shift in values is changing how companies craft workplace experiences. This shift is not necessarily a surprise. Younger generations are digital natives. And, due to a change to remote and hybrid work, many are experiencing the formative, early years of their careers in a remarkably autonomous state. Gen Z and Millennials understandably expect their companies to provide them with technology that offers device autonomy, efficiency, and collaboration – in other words, the same type of experience they have with their personal devices.

But there are currently five active generations in the workforce, and the generational divide is affecting how companies approach digital experience management. Serving Gen Z and Baby Boomers simultaneously with technology that supports their individual workflows is a challenge. But the digital employee experience can mean the difference between an innovative, thriving organization and one that struggles to create meaningful output.

The cross-generational digital employee experience is not something that companies can afford to ignore. To deliver positive digital experiences and equip diverse teams to thrive, companies must create experiences that meet the demands of younger employees while accounting for productivity and security needs across the organization.

The cost of poor tech experiences at work

A fractured digital experience is costly. In a recent survey of 600 employees, executives, and IT leaders across industries, 36% of employees reported considering leaving a job because of a company’s poor digital experience. Of that group, 14% did end up leaving. The cost of poor tech experiences at work is not just employee frustration, morale, or reduced productivity; it’s also trust. Without an effective, tech-driven workplace experience, employees can’t do their jobs, and they certainly cannot thrive.

Here is the challenge: Many executives may assume that “poor tech experiences” refers to a lack of technology or inefficient systems. It does, but that’s only part of the equation. With a wider range of generations at work, the definition of a poor tech experience is broader. And to attract emerging talent from younger generations — so that companies can continue to scale, grow, and advance — they need to be attuned to younger generations’ needs at work. Get this wrong, and companies will lose out on top talent as they look elsewhere for better experiences.

Navigating a new generation of workplace tech expectations

Younger generations in the workplace crave one thing: autonomy. They want device control, and they want to feel free to use their tech systems in the ways that suit how they work. Networking at work, related to projects or simply to build rapport with colleagues, happens in all manner of channels: the employee’s desktop device in the office, a personal mobile phone with an app that connects them to workplace apps, and the laptop and tablet devices that they use on a regular basis to conduct work. 

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End-user computing is an effective IT operational strategy for organizations because it gives employees the freedom to work how they want to work. They can log in from home or the office or manage work tasks on the devices they prefer (or the ones they simply have on hand at the moment). And this is ideal for companies looking to embrace younger generations’ needs for autonomy and flexibility at work.

But there are inherent challenges with end-user computing. First and foremost, companies must consider how end-user computing can affect security. The security implications that come with giving employees more control over their devices are broad: from managing confidential files to the organization’s overall security. At the core of it, however, is not whether employees can be trusted but whether they are properly equipped and empowered by the company to do so. 

End-user experience management (EUEM) is the best way for companies to mitigate the risks of end-user computing while also reaping its benefits. Companies need visibility across the entirety of the IT estate to understand whether team members are properly provisioned at work and where security issues may arise.

IT’s role as a change agent

It’s up to the IT department to bridge the gap between generations in the workplace by providing digital experiences that account for worker needs and simultaneously maintain security. The good news is that the IT role has evolved significantly in the last few years from a reactive response center to a leader in workplace strategy.

Before IT departments can transform the digital experience in the workplace and improve end-user computing strategies, the team needs data. Information that illuminates the digital experience across the IT estate can reveal where gaps exist and how employees want to be provisioned at work. For example, device and software usage information can tell companies where they should invest or cut back. And when employees are spending time dealing with tech issues at work, this is essential data for IT departments to use to assess the digital experience. 

The visibility that the data brings allows IT to make the strategic decisions necessary for ensuring employees’ digital experiences are satisfying and productive ones — while also making sure the devices are secure. The outcome? IT can support the users how they work not how IT wants them to work. In short, a strong digital experience that bridges generational divides will come from this data- and experience-driven approach.


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