Employee experience is an important topic for senior leaders and HR functions, but also for digital workplace and intranet teams. Digital channels and workplace technology continues to have a prominent influence in how employees experience their work, particularly since the start of the pandemic and the increase in remote working. The projected future of hybrid working patterns means that improving digital employee experience will be a key objective for digital workplace teams going forward. Opportunities created by Employee Experience Platforms (EXP) such as Microsoft Viva also mean that there has never been a better time to start thinking about digital employee experience.
In this article, we’re going to explore some of the ways teams can improve digital employee experience. In reality, there is no single magic ingredient that improves digital employee experience; you need a combination of different tactics, underpinned by joined-up thinking, to make a difference. Improvement also doesn’t necessarily happen overnight – it’s about taking a longer-term, strategic view of the digital touchpoints that impact employees.
What is digital employee experience?
Recently, we tried to define employee experience and digital employee experience. We concluded that the term “concerns the way employees experience workplace technology, and that it takes in a more a holistic and strategic way of thinking about the role of technology at work.”
However, there is no exact consensus on the definition, and the term can incorporate different meanings and vary from organisation to organisation. For example, some define it as the equivalent of digital customer experience, while others place more focus on the lifecycle of an employee’s time at an organisation.
Let’s explore some of the different ways digital workplace teams can improve digital employee experience.
Align with your organisation’s strategic view of employee experience
You can’t improve digital employee experience without knowing what your organisation’s strategic view of employee experience is. What are the key elements of employee experience within your organisation? What is important for employees in your organisation? What are your strategic objectives around employee experience? What are the priority areas? Even if the strategy is not necessarily called “employee experience”, there will usually be some kind of equivalent which you should analyse.
The strategy and roadmap for digital employee experience must align with the overall strategic view of your organisation and follow it, otherwise your efforts can lack focus, might not get the necessary support from other stakeholders or may prioritise the wrong areas. Improving the digital employee experience is a huge topic and there is a great deal you can do to achieve it, meaning it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Aligning and following the wider employee experience strategic view should help define your digital employee experience strategy and the related areas for prioritisation.
Involve the right stakeholders
Digital workplace teams will know the importance of involving key stakeholders in your digital workplace strategy and roadmap – the same is true of digital employee experience. Here, you absolutely need to involve HR for the “employee experience” element, and both IT and HR for the “digital” aspect. HR are going to be driving your employee experience strategy forward, and HR tech including your HR system of record like Workday, employee onboarding solutions, learning platform and more are going to be integral parts of your digital employee experience. You need consensus and joined-up approaches with these stakeholders to ensure you are working towards a common vision of digital employee experience, leading to a collaborative effort which can direct the specific tactics and measures that can enrich your strategy.
Focus on the moments that matter in the employee lifecycle
A common focus for improving digital employee experience is the employee lifecycle, following the journey from the time an employee is first hired to when they leave. Throughout the lifecycle, there are some key “moments that matter” that make a real difference to the employee; these include the onboarding experience, learning and development, internal career moves and being supported through key life moments such as starting a family. Identifying these moments and then optimising the digital employee experience around them can be a good way to prioritise and focus actions. Employee onboarding, for example, is often ripe for a better digital employee experience, and is an area where improvements deliver substantial value for organisations in helping to reduce employee turnover.
Understand your employees
You cannot improve digital employee experience without a thorough understanding of employees. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you won’t be surprised by this, as we advocate undertaking user research for any digital project. Never design or build a digital solution based on assumptions! You need to understand the way employees work, their pain points, how they use technology, their information needs and what is important to them.
This is particularly important for a digital employee experience strategy that considers the wide series of factors that are combined to form the overall employee experience. Of course, there are numerous ways to undertake user research including surveys, interviews, workshops, quick polls, analytics, observation and more.
Craft individual experiences around different groups
Understanding employees will inevitably mean bringing in a diverse set of needs that reflect not only the diversity of a workforce, but also individual perspectives and circumstances. One of the major challenges of digital employee experience is trying to design solutions that will meet everybody’s needs. Of course, that’s not always going to be possible, but incorporating principles such as personalisation, targeted content and experiences, the ability for individuals to configure their experience around their needs, flexibility and choice will help.
Flexibility and choice are hugely important in the hybrid workplace, allowing employees to work from anywhere and at any time, giving them autonomy in defining their own employee experience.
Keep on involving employees to ensure better solutions
Improving digital employee experience must involve employees. Information and insights from ongoing employee feedback and input is like gold dust, and helps align your digital workplace to employees’ real-world experiences. Here, it is best to apply some kind of structure to gathering feedback, doing so through:
- Creating feedback mechanisms and channels to capture ongoing input
- Establishing formal groups of employees who are prepared to provide ongoing feedback over a prolonged period
- Building employee feedback into project delivery and product management processes
- Committing to more agile and iterative approaches to workplace technology.
In introducing these sorts of measures, you also need to clearly communicate and demonstrate that employee feedback is valued and makes a difference in order to encourage ongoing input.
Take an empathetic and human-centred view
Improving employee experience means thinking about the range of factors that impact our experience of work. This goes way beyond user-centred design, interface design or improving productivity. We need to think about elements such as health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, flexible working, personal development, career growth, employee engagement and more. We also need to contemplate the needs of different groups in terms of roles, locations, culture, background and demographics. On top of that, we must consider the scenarios and conditions people work in, including frontline employees who are on-the-go, knowledge workers sitting in an office and remote employee working at home.
This sounds straightforward on paper but is actually pretty complex, and an empathetic and human-centric view is needed to improve digital employee experience. This is especially true as we come out of the pandemic and senior leaders are more focused on people’s needs.
Measure in the hybrid workplace to drive continuous improvement
Using metrics to measure different aspects of digital employee experience is a prerequisite for introducing continuous improvement, gaining insights to make meaningful changes, and then testing the impact through further measurement.
Measuring for digital employee experience requires different approaches to looking at adoption or the success of internal communications, alongside a wide range of measures right across the hybrid workplace. People analytics, for example, is starting to look at the connection between health and wellbeing and the time spent on different systems. Using more creative and broader approaches to analytics is necessary, although this is an area where new practices are still emerging.
Properly resource your efforts
Digital employee experience is of strategic importance and requires adequate investment, not only in the technology solutions but also in ensuring there are people in place to launch, manage and improve these solutions. Investing properly in an employee onboarding solution, as well as in people to provide stewardship of that system, can have a significant impact on reducing employee turnover. All too often, organisations fall short on digital employee experience because they are simply not resourcing their efforts properly; unfortunately, ensuring availability of the right level of investment and resourcing is sometimes out of the hands of the digital workplace team.
Improving digital employee experience
Improving digital employee experience is an important area, and we hope this article has given you some ideas. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your digital employee experience, get in touch!