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Gen Z and Millennials expect high Digital Employee Experience or would quit

Digital Employee Experience

Riverbed Global Digital Employee Experience (DEX) Survey 2023 explores expectations of ‘digital natives,’ hybrid work, evolving role of IT, and challenges and strategies to delivering an exceptional DEX. It’s to Attracting and Retaining Millennial and Gen Z Employees? These statistics make stark reading.

  • 66% of UK business and IT decision makers (BDMs/ITDMs) believe failing to meet the digital experience demands of younger generations would be disruptive to the business, and 70% agree Millennials and Gen Z employees would consider leaving the company
  • Over half (57%) of UK respondents say a seamless DEX is most important for employee engagement – 8% higher than the global average. This surpasses office perks such as happy hours (22%) and free coffee and snacks (13%)
  • 93% of UK BDMs and ITDMs identified at least one major obstacle to delivering a seamless DEX, including budget constraints, IT talent/skills shortages, insufficient observability tools, and lack of appropriate SaaS or cloud services
  • 92% of UK respondents recognise the importance of unified observability in their company’s ability to provide exceptional DEX and remain competitive

Riverbed, the leader in Unified Observability, has announced the results of its Global Digital Employee Experience (DEX) Survey 2023, which found that globally, organisations today must employ high standards for the DEX in order to remain competitive and retain talent, in particular for younger generation employees who would otherwise consider leaving the Company. The survey polled a combined 1,800 global IT decision makers (ITDMs) and business decision makers (BDMs) across 10 countries and seven industries, exploring generational expectations, hybrid work, the evolving role of IT, and challenges and strategies to delivering an exceptional DEX.

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Millennials and Gen Z Have High Digital Experience Expectations

The Global DEX survey uncovered that Millennials and Gen Z employees have the highest technology and digital experience expectations in the workplace, with 88% of UK decision-makers believing they will need to provide more advanced digital experiences to meet their needs, and 85% saying younger generation employees in the UK place increased pressure on IT resources.

If an organisation fails to meet the digital experience needs of younger generation employees, UK leaders surveyed believe 68% would consider leaving the company, and 63% say it would be disruptive, impacting productivity, reputation or organisational performance. Additionally, 94% of leaders in the UK say delivering a seamless DEX is important (59% critically important) to remaining competitive.

With heightened digital expectations, and talent, productivity and competitiveness at risk, almost all UK respondents (91%) say investing in DEX is among their top priorities for the next five years.

“The rising influence of digital natives, shift in how and where people work, and IT complexity has put tremendous pressure on IT leaders to deliver on the digital experience expectations of employees and the organisation as a whole. And with over two-thirds of leaders believing younger generation employees would consider leaving the Company if their digital needs are not met, the CIO is essentially becoming a Chief Talent Officer too,” said Dave Donatelli, Chief Executive Officer, at Riverbed. “Compounding to this challenge, the Riverbed Global Digital Employee Experience survey confirmed that delivering better digital experiences is getting harder, not easier. What’s encouraging is the vast majority of business and IT leaders understand the challenge at hand and are taking proactive steps to invest in technologies such as AI and unified observability, to help deliver an improved digital employee experience.”

Obstacles to Delivering a Seamless DEX

At a time when the digital experience is business critical in the UK, 93% of ITDMs and BDMs sited at least one major obstacle or gap to delivering a seamless DEX. Respondents identified budget constraints (44%), IT talent/skills shortages (41%), too much data (29%), lack of buy-in from leadership on prioritizing digital experience initiatives (27%), lack of appropriate SaaS or cloud services (25%), and lack of sufficient observability tools (24%), as the top obstacles hindering their ability to deliver on the digital employee experience. Furthermore, 82% of leaders surveyed said slow-running systems and applications and outdated technology is directly impacting the growth and performance of their organisation (5% lower than the global average).

With IT departments trying to drive innovation and the skills shortage continues, 34% of UK respondents confirmed they are understaffed whilst 44% cited they have enough employees but they lack key skills, with 76% of those setting budget aside for training IT staff.

Accelerating the Digital Experience: Unified Observability a Must-Have for DEX

In the past few years, the push to hybrid work environments and rapid cloud deployments has resulted in IT leaders taking a bigger role in the C-Suite, as they are expected to do more than just keep the lights on. Leaders expects technology to be an enabler to drive business and a recruiting tool to keep the newly arriving younger generations who grew up in the digital era, engaged and productive.

In fact, the survey found that 87% of IT and business leaders in the UK are planning to accelerate digital experience adoption and implementation. Organisations also see technologies such as AI and unified observability playing an important role in delivering on digital experience. 92% of leaders agree unified observability is important (53% critically important) to stay competitive and deliver DEX, and 92% say there must be greater investment in unified observability solutions.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Over  half (57%) of UK leaders say a seamless digital experience is the most important factor in keeping their workforce engaged, surpassing traditional office perks such as weekly happy hours (22%), free coffee and snacks (13%) and company merchandise/giveaways (7%).
  • UK IT and business leaders surveyed said that nearly half (50%) of their employees are working in a hybrid model, and 86% plan to invest in technology over the next 12-18 months to support this hybrid workforce. Additionally, 96% of respondents believe hybrid work enhances their ability to attract and retain talent, ultimately contributing to future competitiveness; and 89% agree that hybrid work will have a lasting and positive impact on society and the world.
  • IT is taking a bigger seat in the C-suite for the UK: 83% of ITDMs and BDMs acknowledge the increasing relevance of IT within the C-suite following the shift to hybrid work models catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 68% of ITDMs surveyed in the UK said they currently have a seat at the C-suite table (12% lower than the global average), and 93% of all respondents agreed that IT is more responsible for driving business innovation now than it was three years ago.
  • Emerging and established technologies that will make or break a business: cloud (55%),

AI (41%), automation (33%), IoT (33%), Digital Experience Management solutions (33%), ChatGPT (29%), and application/network acceleration technology (28%) are crucial for organisations looking to remain competitive over the next 18 months.

The Riverbed Global Digital Employee Experience Survey 2023 polled 1,800 global IT and business decision makers representing companies with over $250 million in annual revenue across 10 countries. Their industries include finance/insurance, oil and gas, government/public sector, healthcare/pharmaceutical, manufacturing, retail, and professional services. The survey was conducted by Sapio Research in May 2023.

Discover how IT and business decision makers are approaching the digital employee experience by diving into the full report:

About Riverbed

Riverbed is the only company with the collective richness of telemetry from network to app to end user, that illuminates and then accelerates every interaction, so organisations can deliver a seamless digital experience and drive enterprise performance. Riverbed offers two industry-leading portfolios: Alluvio by Riverbed, a differentiated Unified Observability portfolio that unifies data, insights, and actions across IT, so customers can deliver seamless, secure digital experiences; and Riverbed Acceleration, providing fast, agile, secure acceleration of any app, over any network, to users anywhere. Together with our thousands of partners, and market-leading customers globally – including 95% of the FORTUNE 100 – we empower every click, every digital experience. Riverbed. Empower the Experience. Learn more at