How are your inter-department relationships? We’ve written before about the valuable role staff can play in protecting businesses from cyber security threats. Unfortunately, new research is indicating that there are common communication barriers between IT departments and non-IT staff. Staff are reporting hesitation to contact IT for tech support and often prefer to do their own research online when approaching problems. This breakdown in communication can produce errors and serious security weaknesses. So how can you let your staff know that the IT department has critical, up-to-date and relevant information that can help them get through their day? How can you reach out to your IT team to improve communications and response times? This article will show you how.
Growing independence and indifference
Most millennials are digital natives – they’ve grown up in an internet-connected world, and Googling to find answers is second-nature. This environment has fostered an attitude of self-reliance when it comes to sourcing tech-related information. This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but it can come at a cost. When faced with an IT problem at work, most staff will seek out answers online without even considering reaching out to the internal IT department for support. Why is this a problem? The internet can provide plenty of valuable tech support advice, but it is often general in nature. The solutions your team members find may not apply to your specific organisation or its security policies. Depending on where they find the information, it may lead down a path of security vulnerabilities including insecure data storage or direct breaches.
In addition, staff are used to having the latest personal technology to hand, which creates an expectation of instant access to the latest in hardware, apps and information. As we know, corporate IT solutions often need to pass a stringent series of tests, including security capabilities. There often isn’t room in the budget to upgrade infrastructure to the latest models as they are released (nor is there time to vet every single new device and app released to market). This has led to a sizable portion of non-IT workers being dissatisfied with the infrastructure provided to them. IT staff, on the other hand are more likely to report being satisfied with the tech, likely because they understand operational and budgetary restrictions and the reasons for them.
Self-reliance and doubts about the role of the CIO
Younger staff in particular are likely to seek out their own solutions to tech problems at work. They may seek out apps that are not verified by the IT department, for example. This can create significant security concerns if non-native apps are insecure and are used to store or transmit sensitive company data. This partial migration away from sanctioned software is due to a perception that CIOs aren’t in touch with staff needs or have chosen not to provide adequate support. It’s this perception that creates serious weaknesses in overall company cyber security.
Changes need to be made
There seems to be two key issues here: poor communication of overall tech and security direction from the top, and poor communication between staff and the very department that is there to provide support. What changes can be made to convince younger staff that company offerings are valuable and indeed mandatory to use?
Communicate the value
People are always more likely to come on board with new technology (or accept working with a current situation) if they understand the reasons why they are used. Explain clearly why information must be restricted to company servers and authorised applications. When the consequences of data breaches are made clear, staff are more likely to work with what they are provided. Staff may not understand the full range of capabilities of provided software and hardware or may not realise how the IT department can work when it comes to providing assistance or customisations. The ‘what’s in it for me’ principle can create a stronger desire to work with provided technology.
Conversely, if there is significant resistance or discomfort associated with using company tools or speaking it IT support, consider it an opportunity for your business. As mentioned above, CIOs are often described as being out of touch with the needs of non-IT staff. Taking the time to survey your staff about their needs and satisfaction with the tech side of the business can highlight where improvements can be made. When staff feel listened to they feel valued. This can help create a more forgiving and accepting environment. It can also help to clear up any miscommunications about why IT support is offered and what the team can provide.
Consider making training sessions available to staff to get to grips with new software and make it standard for new staff. Seek out volunteers to become champions of the technology – influencers within departments that can vocally support what’s available, and who may be able to address transient concerns on the spot. This can be positioned as a reward or position of trust for senior employees, which helps to further bolster their trust with IT and their personal position in the company. Developing good relations with non-IT staff is vital if you want them to seek out the IT team for answers instead of Google.
About Mustard IT, your IT support partner
Mustard IT provide the design, build, and installation of secure IT servers and networks, and provide value-driven, round-the-clock IT support for small and medium businesses. Do you need help to bring your staff on board with IT support? Our trusted team are experienced and able to explain complex issues to you in a language you’ll understand. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.