How Does Identity Enhance Employee Experience?

Right now it seems as if everyone’s talking about the future of work.

Will most companies follow in the footsteps of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan and mandate their employees to return to the office on a full-time basis?

Or will they adopt the more permissive approaches championed by tech companies like Twitter and Slack, and encourage people to work “wherever they feel most productive and creative”?

It’s likely that the true answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Fifty of the UK’s largest employers say they have no plans to ask all staff to return to the office full-time for the foreseeable future. But most employees will not work on a remote basis exclusively. This is the prevailing preference. Among global employees recently surveyed by Accenture, a sizeable majority (83%) said they strongly prefer a hybrid model. 

But asking where people will work in the future might be the wrong question. Instead, it’s probably more important to ask how they’ll work – and which technologies and processes will help them accomplish the most.

After all, even those employees that do return to on-site work permanently will rely more heavily on cloud applications and services than they did even a few short years ago. Today’s businesses use an average of 80 Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps, five times as many as they did in 2018, and ten times as many as in 2015. Chat and video conferencing platforms have become more deeply embedded into how teams collaborate. For many professionals, technology-enabled business transformation is changing the very definition of productivity. 

What’s more, the so-called Great Resignation has changed the rules in the competition for top talent. With quit rates reaching all-time highs in France and the UK in 2021, employers are now trying to entice prospective employees with more attractive compensation packages, increased flexibility and the promise of more inclusive workplace cultures. 

Top Talent, Lofty Expectations

Today’s best and brightest recruits are looking for more from their next employer than a steady paycheck. Many seek better work-life balance, and an employer that’s committed to sustaining employees’ mental health, protecting the environment and advancing social equality. Crucially, younger members of the workforce also say that they want to work for a company they feel they can trust.

Amidst this large-scale shift to more dynamic ways of working, it’s increasingly important for businesses to ensure that their employees can access the systems and resources that they need to get their jobs done — and that they can do so seamlessly and securely, from their very first day on the job. Advancing the capabilities that will empower your people to do so is the most important step your organisation can take to get ahead in the highly competitive race to attract top talent.

Here are our top three tips for improving your employees’ experience at work:

#1: Automate the Joiner, Mover, Leaver process.

In the past, onboarding and offboarding employees was a manual process, which means that it could take weeks — if not longer — for new hires to get access to the apps and resources they needed to get started at work.

Plus, any delay in deprovisioning access can significantly increase an organisation’s risk of a breach, particularly for employees who were terminated involuntarily and may be feeling motivated to inflict damage wherever they can. According to a recent study conducted by the Identity Defined Security Alliance, however, more than half of organisations still require three days or longer to revoke former employees’ system access.

With today’s faster pace of business change and more complex cloud-based IT infrastructures, such delays are no longer tenable. Modern businesses need an identity strategy that will streamline operations, provide day one access to new hires and increase security by preventing former users from retaining access to their business accounts. To accomplish this, they’ll need to leverage automation across the employee identity lifecycle.

With an automation and orchestration platform service such as Okta Workflows, organisations can leverage an expanded library of pre-built connectors and templates to automate identity management tasks with no need for complex custom coding. This gives admins the power to create, update and delete accounts in seconds. Workflow app connectors and the ability to connect to any publicly available API make it possible to automate numerous actions across a broad array of enterprise apps and gain enhanced control over the timing of these actions. 

Group rules and automations make governing access more efficient at the same time that an enterprise-grade lifecycle management solution will save time on provisioning and deprovisioning, and money on software licenses and audit preparation costs. You can use the same workflows to manage secure user permissions for third-party partners, contractors and vendors as well.

#2: Go passwordless to reduce login friction for your employees. 

Not only do passwordless authentication methods offer more robust security than yesterday’s password-based systems, but they provide a better user experience to your employees as well.

Instead of needing to remember and re-enter a password each time they need account access, employees will be emailed a one-time link or code or offered the opportunity to verify their identity with a biometric trait such as a facial scan or fingerprint. It’s also possible to register an employee’s device so that it’s instantly recognised by the Okta Identity Cloud, providing a completely passwordless and loginless experience that works across all browsers, desktops and mobile apps.

The benefits of going passwordless extends beyond enhanced security and increased ease of use. With no more credentials to steal, your security team will no longer have to worry about phishing attacks or other access-based threats. The amount of time that users spend on authentication will be reduced by as much as 50%, while increased operational efficiencies will lower administrative burden and decrease costs. 

#3: Make the move to Zero Trust.

Zero Trust isn’t a new concept, but the last two years’ events — including the shift to a distributed workforce, accelerated cloud adoption and wave of increasingly sophisticated cyber threats including ransomware attacks and credential phishing — have made its adoption a matter of urgency.

Indeed, if today’s most talented employees want to work for companies they can trust, it’s vital to move towards a more risk-based and identity-centric approach to security, one that’s better suited to modern technologies and ways of working.

Organisations that take a Zero Trust approach to security focus on ensuring that the right people have the right level of access to the right resources in the right context, and that this access is reassessed continuously — all without adding friction for the user. Naturally, the first step towards implementing Zero Trust involves consolidating access to all enterprise resources within a single identity and access management (IAM) system. The goal is to be able to enforce unified policies across all apps, regardless of whether they’re on-premises or in the cloud. And the next step is to be able to implement context-based access policies, to automate provisioning and deprovisioning and then to move towards risk-aware and passwordless access. 

Zero Trust isn’t something you can build overnight. But making identity the foundation of your security strategy, and extending that attention to identity across your entire security ecosystem is key – not only for achieving your security goals, but also for creating workplace technology experiences that resonate with today’s employees. It’s a wise strategy for attracting top talent and addressing the rising cyber threats that are omnipresent in today’s digital world.

Want to learn more about how Okta is helping companies reduce friction, improve employee experience and increase efficiencies? Download our interactive guide to Automating the Joiner, Mover, Leaver process today.