How to boost the employee experience with a digital workplace strategy
— November 24th, 2017
The employee experience. We’ve all had countless numbers of them in our working lives. But were you to ask 10 different people to explain exactly what an employee experience is, chances are you’d get ten different answers, none of which would necessarily provide a complete understanding of the overarching concept that’s become something of a buzzword in recent years.
Studies show that a well-functioning employee experience design—one that continually instructs, involves, inspires, incents, and informs—leads to greater levels of engagement, enthusiasm, and employer brand commitment. But the truth is that it's hard to develop something that you have yet to even define, so any discussion regarding ways to improve the employee experience will need to start there.
1. Define the Employee Experience in Your Organization
Employee experience isn’t about any one thing, rather it’s the culmination of countless experiences gleaned over time. Globoforce Workhuman Research Institute and IBM Smarter Workforce Institute define EX as “a set of perceptions that employees have about their experiences at work in response to their interactions with the organization.” This element of the employee experience should be easy for anyone to understand because we’ve all gone through it in our daily working lives.
What’s certain is that the employee experience impacts the way you think about the work you do and the people for whom you do it. EX is therefore a matter of crucial importance, not only for your personal and professional wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of your organization. The promise of a positive employee experience can get you out of bed on a rainy winter morning, while a negative one might make you consider calling in sick—or start looking for another job. The cumulative effect of a consistently affirmative employee experience means that your company is likely to be getting the best, most engaged and productive you that you have to offer.
There is also a proven bond between employee engagement and customer success. In its 2016 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, the Temkin Group found that companies with stronger financial performances and better customer experience (or CX) have employees who are considerably more engaged than their peers. This finding reflects the obvious reality that positive customer experiences are pivotal to the success of a business. Armed with this knowledge, marketing teams have become more and more adept at creating compelling customer experiences. But improving the employee experience means understanding a counterintuitive theory that has arisen around this line of thinking: successful customer experiences depend upon putting your employees first—not your customers.
Employees are on the front lines of brand representation, and organizations are finally realizing that the same focused attention traditionally aimed at developing customer relations should be given to their workforces. It’s something of a cliché that corporate leaders have long referred to their employees as being their most valuable asset; but despite such rhetoric, many continue to focus on approaches that send the opposite message. The customer, it seems, is not always right, and businesses that act on this realization by actively putting their employees’ needs on par with those of its customers, consistently see that doing so ultimately leads to greater customer success.
2. Put the Employee Experience at the Center of Your Digital Workplace Strategy
Today’s digital workplace is the sum total of the employee experience. James Robertson, an expert in the field of intranet and digital workplace design, acknowledges that “the digital workplace isn't a ‘thing' or a technology. Instead, employee experience is both the face and heart of the digital workplace.” Insights like these are spreading among leading organizations in the EX movement whose digital workplace strategies are aimed at implementing efficient working environments in which organizational communication barriers are being overcome with the aid of innovative technologies.
Improving the employee experience has always meant putting your people in the best possible position for them to do their jobs. Because a new generation of employees want to work in ways that mirror their digital lives, efforts to increase employee satisfaction and productivity gains must feature innovative digital strategies and tools. Today’s employees generally want to use the kinds of devices with which they’re comfortable in their non-work lives. This includes application-based solutions which people have generally become more adept at using than browser-based ones. By meeting these kinds of employee demands when it comes to workplace tools, companies will ultimately reap rewards.
The employee experience is thus being transformed through the use of advancements like email, instant messaging, push notifications, enterprise social media platforms, virtual meeting tools, and certain HR processes. Every department therefore has a stake in the digital workplace, all of them attempting to provide their workforces with positive, more efficient touch points throughout the complete employee life cycle. Taking this kind of holistic digital approach to employee experience design — one that reaches across hierarchies and departments — will also be an effective way of bringing a company’s employer brand to life.
As work radically evolves in the 21st century, with software set to disrupt most traditional industries in the next five to ten years, it’s becoming more and more imperative for organizations to put the employee experience at the center of their digital workplace strategy.
The greatest challenge facing today’s organizations is managing change - communication and collaboration are therefore top priorities. Using a robust tool like an employee experience app can be the perfect way to achieve these elusive goals. Such tools can be especially effective in large and distributed organizations, where they will act as both an organization’s communication hub and its front door intranet—one that works great with mobile but also on desktops.