Consider the following two seemingly unrelated survey findings:

  1. According to Gallup, only 15 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work.
  2. Research suggests that most transformation efforts fail—McKinsey reports that “70 percent of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals.”

Apples and oranges, right? Not really—a little closer to a chicken and an egg.

In their quest to become digital, agile, innovative, and customer-obsessed, many companies have failed to fully recognize the key drivers of progress—employees. No matter how much new technology companies implement, and regardless of how many processes they automate or streamline, if they don’t prioritize the human element, their initiatives will probably flop.

You need a chicken to get an egg. Likewise, companies need engaged employees to achieve successful outcomes.

One of the key factors influencing engagement is the quality of services provided to employees. This includes IT, human resources, training, tech support, and more. In a McKinsey article about the state of the internal customer experience, the report’s authors note that the quality of an organization’s internal services directly impacts the experience of its external customers. IT, for example, plays a part in defining every customer relationship—whether it’s a frontline employee helping a customer book a flight, or the person on the back end ensuring the information is current, accurate, and available.

One of the key factors influencing engagement is the quality of services provided to employees—Including IT, human resources, training, and tech support

Similarly, if an organization implements new technology—such as Office 365 or another cloud-based, collaboration-focused solution—but neglects to provide thorough, consistent training and support for it, the resulting dip in productivity will have a ripple effect across the company and beyond to its customers.

Still, many top managers treat the internal customer service experience as less of a priority than the external one. Internal support services are also one of the first areas to be cut when budgets are tight.

The challenge today is not getting stuck on why the human element is consistently overlooked, but is instead determining how companies can make employees a key element of top management’s priorities.

One way to get started is by genuinely listening to employees. Implementing feedback systems and pulse surveys is critical to identifying their sources of satisfaction and frustration. Acting on the feedback is even more important. According to surveys conducted by McKinsey, employees’ pain points with internal services fall into a few major areas: the availability and clarity of information, the time needed to complete tasks required by support functions, and the effort required to go through processes involving support functions.

Many business leaders have failed to grasp the idea that, to drive success in transformation efforts—to create truly customer-centric organizations that are innovative, collaborative, efficient, and agile—they need to put employees at the center.

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