Employee experience (EX) covers all components of what it’s like to work somewhere, across the whole employee lifecycle. It is a key factor in employee engagement – after all, staff are much less likely to be engaged and expend additional effort if the working experience is not satisfactory.
Related to this, the digital employee experience (DEX) focuses on the technology side of the working environment. Forrester defines the digital employee experience as “The sum of all the perceptions that employees have about working with the technology they use to complete their daily work and manage their relationship with their employer across the lifecycle of their employment.”
The digital employee experience is becoming increasingly important. We are in an era of digitalisation where companies automate previously manual processes and systems to increase productivity and efficiency. Essentially, this means that more and more employees rely on digital technology to do their jobs – and use a growing number of systems on a daily basis.
From desk-based knowledge workers to those in field service all employees need access to the right information, and usable technology to work effectively, happily, and productively. This is particularly true at a time of increased hybrid and remote working, initially driven by the pandemic, and now by other factors, such as the impact of the energy crisis. Digital collaboration tools, such as video conferencing, chat and communications solutions are becoming the backbone of companies, bringing everyone together, wherever they are located. If these systems are clunky or difficult to use, then efforts to create virtual organisations are doomed to fail and employee retention will suffer.
Essentially, as people spend less time sat at a desk in an office, the digital environment becomes more important. While there will always be a role for the physical environment a company provides, for many people much of their day-to-day interaction with colleagues is now digital.
Employees have high expectations when it comes to the digital experience at work. After all, as consumers they are used to companies offering them a seamless, intuitive customer experience across digital channels, whether that is buying a product from a retailer, accessing streaming content or using apps on their smartphone. They expect the same experience from the digital technology they use at work.
However, often employees are disappointed by their DEX. In many companies digital tools have been added in a piecemeal manner – resulting in a complex, disconnected working environment that is frustrating and time consuming to use. Showing the scale of the issue, research from Deloitte found that on average employees have to access 11 different systems as part of their day-to-day jobs.
How do you improve the digital employee experience?
Given its importance it is vital that organisations deliver a high-quality digital employee experience. This requires a joined-up approach that brings together IT, HR, and other departments to focus on understanding what employees need, and then delivering it effectively. Following these seven best practices helps achieve this:
Set a holistic strategy
Understand your business needs and create an overarching strategy for your digital employee experience. Rather than simply adding more tools look at what your overall objectives are, and then put in place the right technology to achieve them.
Listen to your people
Ensuring your new digital tools are used requires cultural change. You need to involve your people in the process, listening to their needs and providing them with a DEX that works for them. Without listening to employee needs, digital tools won’t be used. This means you won’t get ROI on your project and staff will be unhappy and likely to leave.
Personalise your approach
Every employee will have different needs. A one size fits all approach will therefore not deliver results. Make sure you listen, segment your workforce, and introduce a tailored experience for each person. That could be around how you deliver training or support, or the best approach that will get them onside with digital change.
Communicate in engaging ways
As with any EX programme you need to feedback to employees and show them that you are listening and acting on their insight. Create two-way conversations using a range of activities, including engaging digital channels such as video, email, and SMS. Targeting teams with timely, relevant communications personalised to their needs will help drive engagement and greater involvement.
Deliver what people need when they need it
One of the key aims of digital is to break down silos and make journeys and processes seamless. So, ensure that this applies to the digital employee experience too. For example, if a new employee starts, provide a seamless onboarding process where everything they need is delivered through a one stop shop, rather than having to request a laptop from IT, ask for a badge from security/facilities management, provide bank details to finance and register with HR.
Also use technology, such as AI, to make employees’ lives easier, such as by automatically providing staff with information when they need it. For example, the details of a customer they are about to speak to could pop up on a customer service agent’s screen as a call is put through to them.
Measure the overall experience
Collecting feedback from employees across the employee lifecycle gives vital information on the DEX that can be used to drive improvements. However, also look at other ways of measuring the overall experience, such as by monitoring how tools are used, and analysing this data to gain a better understanding of what is happening on the ground. As well as surveys, look at running regular check-in sessions to see what is working and what needs improvement. The more data you collect, the better decisions you will be able to make on improving DEX.
Make your IT department more accessible
The digital employee experience isn’t the sole responsibility of IT. However, normally they will be the first line of support for employees if things go wrong or if they have queries. That means IT staff need to be available, approachable, and user-friendly, going beyond fixing problems. As Carol Rozwell of Gartner says, “They have to be not just problem-solving people, but people who are there to help employees get better usage out of their technology.”
In an increasingly digital world, the DEX plays a vital part in getting the best out of your people and ensuring employee retention over the long term. To deliver a successful digital employee experience companies need to take a holistic approach. They need to listen to feedback and understand employee needs, and then respond effectively with targeted communications and support to complete the loop. This will continually improve the digital employee experience, driving greater engagement, productivity, and efficiency.