Elevating the Employee Experience in a Digital-First World

Caitlin Turay Digital Workplace, Employee Experience
Elevating the Employee Experience in a Digital-First World

We live in the age of Digital Darwinism, where companies are in a mad rush to be as technologically robust as possible. Everyone is adopting the latest, most secure enterprise technologies at lightning speed. However, to deliver maximum impact, they also need to ensure that the (said) technologies are aligned carefully with the organization’s people, tasks, structure, culture and processes. It is the sum total of all these efforts that will help deliver a superior Employee Experience (EX), driven by technology. 

If not deployed correctly, these high-tech support systems can end up causing more harm than good with respect to the Employee Experience. Thus, it’s becoming time for organizations to fully recognize how technology and business infrastructure impacts their people, act on it, and thus reduce disconnected experiences.

Barriers To Improving Digital Employee Experience

“What?! Again? I just filled all of that data into an excel sheet! Now, I have to duplicate those efforts into our CRM?” 

“Hello? Anybody there?! My workplace messenger app is broken again!”

Too many organizations are encountering these instances of employee frustrations, deeply rooted in defeat. These scenarios are prime examples of poor Digital Employee Experience. And here are some of the reasons for it:

  • Too many challenging business priorities: Digital Employee Experience (DEX) is still a nascent concept. Since there isn’t a complete understanding of the benefits or ways to measure DEX, it’s not considered as important as, let’s say, employee productivity or business transformation. CMS Wire reports that 67 percent of organizations look at such competing priorities as the biggest roadblock to DEX.
  • Focus on external instead of internal customer: Organizations are worried about the tech experience that their end-customers face, but tend to forget about creating a satisfying experience for their own employees. This could result in employee productivity drops and dissatisfaction.
  • Lack of a lucid DEX strategy: 60% of organizations don’t see DEX as critical for the business, according to a survey conducted by Step Two, a digital workplace and intranet consultancy. So, they tend to not expend any effort to map out a unique digital experience strategy. This leads to a lack of direction and measurable goals and poor resource utilization.
  • Resistance to change: Sure, you can adopt a whole bunch of new, complex technologies. But if you don’t sufficiently prepare your employees for the change, they are likely to resist it. And this resistance could manifest itself in the form of technostress or low adoption rates, which ends up defeating the purpose of the digital transformation.

Now that we’ve listed out the barriers, let’s quickly jump to the process to improve the experience for your employees.

8 Steps To Improve Employee Experience

Here is how you can implement cross-functional, enterprise-level governance to improve the experience for your employees. 

1. Understand What Constitutes A ‘Good’ Digital Experience For Your Employees

Nowadays we are so used to immediacy and seamless digital experiences in our personal lives (as consumers) that we begin to expect it at the workplace as well. Hence, when an organization embarks on digital transformation efforts or even considers adding a new app.  They need to start off by taking into consideration what employees really want as well as what the need

Well-orchestrated services and great digital experiences can be attained by first gauging employee expectations and current concerns via analytics, social listening, surveys and interviews. It is also important to create personas to represent the organization’s various employee roles and functions. 

Then, you may plot journey maps that showcase how you can achieve the employee’s workplace expectations and alleviate their concerns. 

Via agile and design methodologies (such as split testing and rapid prototyping) you can also keep experimenting with different experiences (in real life scenarios) to find out what works for the employees and what doesn’t. 

2. Find The Sweet Spot Between DEX and DCX

Remember, there is a deep link between digital consumer experience (DCX) and DEX.

In fact, leaders in customer experience are seen to have 60% more engaged employees. This is because these organizations are able to draw from their understanding of customer experience to devise and implement effective DEX strategies. 

What’s more, organizations that invest in EX tend to be 4x more profitable than those that don’t. So ensure that you don’t ignore the internal customers, who take care of your external customers. 

3. Strategize. Strategize. Strategize.

Once you know what and how employees currently feel about the current DEX, decide what business results you wish to achieve – including improved employee engagement or productivity. 

Additionally, a few pertinent questions that you would need to base your digital experience plans around are: 

  1. How do your employees interact with each other? And how does technology affect that?
  2. How does technology affect critical processes that help employees excel at their jobs? 
  3. Are employees comfortable with technology? And does it make them more productive?
  4. Are your digital tactics giving you a strategic advantage over your competitors?
  5. What tools do you currently have? Are they all necessary?

Once you gather all these insights, you are ready to create a crystal-clear vision and strategy for the future. 

As you chart out a plan, ensure that you make room in this EX strategy for flexibility. This will enable the strategy to change shape and form with the inevitable advancements in technology.

4. Appoint A Solid Task-Force

It is imperative that someone takes real ownership to lead this initiative. The question is who?

You shouldn’t just leave it to the vertical heads because each of them will have their own agendas to push. 

Therefore, its best to create a cross-functional workplace experience task force that is dedicated to fostering a positive workplace culture for the entire organization.

And, from an early stage, get buy-in from senior leaders to ensure that there are fewer top-down roadblocks to delivering the best DEX.

5. Create A Unified Employee Experience

A Deloitte survey shows that 70% of employees end up having to input the same data into multiple systems to complete their task. 

This and similar hiccups in DEX arise when every business function develops or procures a different technology and sets up its own processes and governance mechanisms; optimized to suit its specific requirements. Thus, from approval and transaction requests to receiving services, employees end up having to interact with multiple points of contact.

For instance, new hires may have to register four different requests via four different systems to secure a laptop (from the IT department), get an access card (from security), enroll for an benefits program (via an HR portal), and share salary account details (through the finance division’s platform). 

This is insufferable. With so many hoops to jump through, no wonder some employees are so wary of technology. 

However, it doesn’t need to be so complicated. All you need to do is integrate all business platforms and apps to create a seamless digital experience. 

A user-friendly, unified Digital Employee Experience platform will ensure that all the employee services are available in one place. So, the new hire (from our example one paragraph ago) can complete all of his/her tasks, with just the click of a single “onboarding” request button. 

6. Hyper-Personalize With Employee Data

Remember those employee segments, clustered basis important characteristics, that I spoke about in point #1? Sure, that is a good way to deliver targeted experiences, but it’s just the start. 

Analysis of individual employee data, at scale, can take this personalization a step further. 

This is essential especially since digital natives, such as Gen Y and Z, are taking over the workplace. This talent will advocate for a customized, high-tech experience – across employee touchpoints.

This explains why, a report by Accenture notes that 51% of business leaders are intent on creating hyper-personalized workforce experiences. 

Employee data, collected and analysed by various digital technologies, can cost-effectively deliver such hyper-personalized experiences.

Data aggregated about employees from every vertical can be analysed, to gain insight into their unique preferences. This will help deliver workplace digital experiences that suit the individual employee specifically.

Your organization could find out exactly what issues each member of the sales team is facing on the Salesforce CRM, by reviewing usage patterns recorded on tools such as Whatfix. Then you can deploy microlearning training sessions to help the salesperson find his/her way around the tool better –  thus improving their selling experience. Talk about hyper personalization at its best!

So, by leveraging data collection and processing, you can better identify and address the unique needs of each employee instead of delivering a blanket experience for the hundreds in each employee ‘segment’.

7. Reduce Technostress

Technology permeates through every aspect of our personal and professional lives and that’s a great thing. However, sometimes, too many devices and softwares end up overwhelming the employees. 

Such tech-led thoughts lead to techno-anxiety or technostress. And that’s not the kind of digital experience any organization would want for its people.

So, let’s leverage every trick in the change management arsenal to combat technostress and get users comfortable with the new technologies and processes.

    • Build a workplace culture that is accepting of change: Companies that are constantly looking to adopt new technologies and processes, to stay ahead of the curve, need to help sensitize their employees to the impending change. Your organization needs to help employees get comfortable with facing risks that come with being agile, while being ready to learn from failure. 
    • Seek buy-in from the end-users: Even before implementing or updating the tool, ensure that the employee’s opinion is heard. This will make them feel involved in the decision making process and drive them to feel involved in accepting the technology change. 
    • Identify the technostress triggers: To find out what element of the technology is bothering the employees, conduct online surveys or quizzes. Then, based on the results, tailor training session or resolutions to solve the issue. 
    • Deliver ICT training in the flow of work: Get a dynamic and customized ICT training program in place, which allows users to learn as they do. This should include at least one macro training module, ranging from classroom style sessions to powerpoint presentations on the LMS, that explains why and how to use each new technology. To reinforce the lessons, and guide users through the software in a more interactive manner, you could employ formats such as gamified learning and microlearning. 

 

Whatfix is a microlearning platform that create sequential, contextual and ‘bite-sized’ curriculum, in preferred learning styles, for delivering training that ‘sticks’. Best of all, its AI and ML algorithms automatically and intelligently segment content based on the user, role and in-app location.

You could also train users via social collaboration, by using mentorship programs, internal instant messengers, message boards etc. The right mix of training can help employees better understand the tools they work with, and thus reduce digital fatigue. Such upskilling efforts also helps retain ambitious talent. 

No wonder organizations with higher digital maturity are 5x more likely to believe in helping employees develop digital skills. 

    • Offer on-demand technical support: Instead of asking users to raise support requests for each small tech obstacle that they face with software adoption, consider an always-on helpdesk or a Digital Adoption Solution (DAS) such as Whatfix. It offers personalized and real-time digital guidance so that ICT familiarization becomes easy and smooth. Whatfix responds to queries and concerns, as they arise, via the following inbuilt features:
      • Tooltips lets users know what each feature/button is for
      • Self-help widgets that provide contextual help documents, videos etc
      • Automated, contextual and highly personalized step-by-step walkthroughs help users navigate the software

Such in-app 24/7 digital assistance helps reduce support costs by up to 60%!

8. Embrace Disruptive Technologies and Processes

Elevating the Employee Experience in a Digital-First World

Seek to be early adopters of disruptive technologies such as IoT, AI and blockchain that can play a huge role in improving the experience and productivity. Apart from the new technologies, you need to also change the way employees go about their everyday tasks.

For one, mobile-first software and tools are essential for the new generation of employees. Smartphones tend to be the first thing one looks at in the morning (for better or worse). It can be pervasive. However, being a mobile-first organization gives employees the flexibility to work anywhere and anytime. Especially with the growing popularity of the gig economy, creating mobile-friendly workplace experiences is critical. 

Secondly, mundane and repetitive tasks can also be automated with AI-powered tools. This frees up employee’s time to focus on more creative or strategic tasks. Big data analysis also makes it possible for employees to receive contextual insights that help employees make quicker and more accurate decisions. 

Finally, many organizations are also exploring technologies such as augmented reality and voice assistants that improve ease of working in a digital environment. 

While its important for technology-led experiences to be embraced with open arms, don’t forget that more than 90% of Gen Z workforce still values the human touch! So, encourage more face to face communication and positive relationships at work. 

Deconstructing Digital Employee Experience Metrics

A study conducted by MIT in 2017 places real value on a great experience. The report claims that companies that offer great experiences to their employees are likely to be 25% more profitable than those that don’t.

To see if your investments in organizational culture and technology produce an RoI, in terms of actual business outcomes, you could analyse:

  1. Workforce productivity rate: Forrestor research also claims “productivity links so closely with employee experience that the greatest EX enhancements will often come from investing in better systems-of-work technologies.”
  2. Rate of staff retention : An elevated employee experience is seen to improve the chances of workers staying loyal to their organization by four times.
  3. Technology adoption rates : Employees are more likely to adopt and recommend the tool to others if their experience working with the technology has been stress-free. 
  4. Employee satisfaction levels : Qualitative analysis can showcase the changes in employee happiness, commitment and peace of mind, brought about via improved employee experience.
  5. Employee engagement : Good employee experience, according to a recent Deloitte study, is seen to deliver 22% higher employee engagement levels. 

Elevating the Employee Experience in a Digital-First World

Use tools such as Employee NPS (Net Promoter® Score), Employee Pulse Surveys, and Employee Effort Score to map the success of your DEX.

Assessing Your Organization’s Digital Maturity

Want to quickly assess if your organization is on its way to deliver a sound employee experience? Then, run through this checklist to see where you stand:

  1. Is your digital strategy mature and an integral part of everything you do to improve the way your employees work?
  2. Do you care as much about your employee’s experience as your customer experience?
  3. Does your organization have a unified platform to boost the experience of your employees?
  4. Have you made digital a core part of your corporate culture? Do your KPIs reflect this?
  5. Are your employees provided with experiences that are personalized, based on advanced data analytics?
  6. Is your organization’s workplace experience automated, as well as optimized for flexibility?
  7. Is your organization recognized as an industry benchmark in your employee’s digital experience?

If you’ve answered yes to most of these questions, then Congrats! Your organization offers a sound digital employee experience and is likely to have already attained digital maturity.

And if not, don’t worry. Start small and build on it quickly by adopting the right models and digital frameworks. 

And remember, there’s no magic formula for setting up the ideal experience. However, by listening to your employees and truly seeking to understand your people while adapting accordingly, you’ll be able to create the right type of foundation.

Still Thinking About Your Organization’s Digital Employee Experience?

Set yourself up for success, by clicking here for a free trial of Whatfix and see how it helps show your employees the best possible ways to use Enterprise Software. It’s sure to accelerate user adoption and drive significant additional productivity gains across your enterprise. We are also happy to offer a quick personalized demo to show you how Whatfix can enhance employee experience during each user’s digital adoption journey.

Caitlin Turay

Caitlin Turay

Director of Strategic Accounts at Whatfix
As a Silicon Valley native, Caitlin has established her career in the SaaS space. With over a decade of HCM expertise, she works with Fortune 500 organizations to help them identify ways in which they can evolve their Employee Experience efforts by leveraging technology. She is currently the Director of Strategic Accounts at Whatfix.
Caitlin Turay

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