If the employee experience (EX) is not one of your top business priorities, then it should be. For a start, good employee experiences deliver growth. MIT’s research in 2017 demonstrated that businesses with an EX in the top quartile deliver 25% higher profits than businesses in the bottom quartile. 

What’s more, a positive EX helps organisations win and retain talent. This is a consideration seldom more important today as organisations deal with continuing staff churn following the pandemic. Currently, one in five employees globally say they are likely to switch to a new employer in the next 12 months. This suggests that the “Great Resignation” is still in full swing. 

The role of technology

As organisations set out to create winning employee experiences, technology has an outsized role to play. We need only think about the huge strides forward made by companies to deliver better customer experiences (CX) through technology. Led by disruptors from the tech world (such as Amazon, Apple, and Facebook), businesses in most sectors now offer compelling and convenient multi-channel customer touchpoints. These are typically centred on their customers’ needs. 

When it comes to EX, however, a similar revolution has yet to occur. Looking in at the administrative applications used in most organisations, they simply haven’t kept up with the peoples’ expectations for ever-present technology. A strange situation has emerged – consumer applications are far more intuitive and powerful than those used to manage the work lives of businesses’ most valuable resource. 

A barrier to agility

This situation should be of concern to all HR practitioners and business leaders. Firstly, it prevents them from doing their own jobs effectively. HR is no longer the back-office support role of old.  

The function has rightly won a place at the strategic heart of the enterprise. It helps to keep employees motivated and engaged in the face of some of the most challenging conditions in decades. If they are stymied by antiquated systems, they will not be able to act at the pace required. Moreso, they will not be able to gather the insights needed for effective decision making. 

Employees also feel the strain. The world of work is changing in unprecedented ways as hybrid working takes hold and digital transformation unfolds. Job roles and processes are changing continually, and people are working at accelerated speeds. They need technologies and applications that are streamlined, efficient, and adaptable.  

Regardless of whether they’re submitting an expense report, requesting time off, or finding information about health benefits; employees need frictionless experiences that make their lives easier. 

A drain on productivity

One of the touchstones of a good EX is the ease with which an employee can complete a process or use an application. When poor technology makes it a struggle to carry out basic tasks at work, it’s easy to see why people can become frustrated. It is also an unnecessary drain on productivity. 

According to a survey by Deloitte, only 42% of respondents thought that workers were at least satisfied with day-to-day work practices. Only 38% said they were at least satisfied with work-related tools and technology. Evidently, business leaders should be focusing in on these aspects to overall improve their EX.  

The role of data and automation

Automation will have a key role to play in improving administrative applications. By taking on repetitive tasks – data gathering and automation, for example – makes these previously time-consuming activities quick and easy. These actions may provide more accuracy too, as there’s less room for human error. This further enables workers to focus on high-value strategic work. 

Another key to success will be ensuring that employees have easy access to the information they need to do their jobs. Workday’s research suggests that there is a strong correlation between enterprise-wide data access and the ability to make informed decisions at speed.  

The free flow of information and data is cited as the most critical factor in driving agile decision-making practices. Given our turbulent times, improving decision making will become a key differentiator for businesses. 

Meeting employee expectations

It’s also important to recognise that employees expect on-demand information and real-time answers. Companies that want to engage their people and empower them with actionable data and convenient tools must meet them where they are. More often, this means going to their “natural workspaces”. That could mean enabling them to request leave in Slack, for example; or finding out a co-worker’s office location in Microsoft Teams. 

Younger generations also prefer to learn by doing. The days of subject matter experts being gatekeepers of knowledge are over. Rather, businesses should look at how technology can support self-learning. Enabling workers to connect with colleagues and seek out information for themselves is a new focus. 

Consumerise and thrive

The pandemic is still giving way to a huge workforce reshuffle. It is now vital that organisations create a digital environment which enables people to bring their A-game to work. The best way to enable that change is to learn from the customer experience leaders. 

It’s now important to leverage automation and data for intuitive, frictionless, and empowering tools and processes. Listen to your employees to understand which technologies work best for them. Doing so, you’ll increase productivity and create a strong brand that’s well placed to win and retain the best talent. Now that sounds like a prize worth winning. 

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