Employee experience (EX) covers all components of work life across the whole employee lifecycle. It is a key factor in employee engagement – after all, staff are much less likely to be highly engaged and expend additional effort if the work experience is not satisfactory.
Digital employee experience (DEX) focuses on the technological 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 as companies automate previously manual processes and systems to increase productivity and efficiency. As a result, employees use a growing number of systems daily and rely on digital technology to do their jobs — and 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 to bring everyone together regardless of location. If these systems are clunky or difficult to use, then efforts to create virtual organizations are doomed to fail and employee retention will suffer.
As people spend less time 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, the DEX often disappoints. 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. Research from Deloitte found that on average employees must access 11 different systems as part of their day-to-day jobs.
How do you improve the digital employee experience?
To deliver the high-quality digital employee experience that is paramount for engaging employees requires a coordinated effort from IT and HR. These seven best practices can lay the groundwork for success:
Set a holistic strategy
Understand your business needs and create an overarching strategy for your digital employee experience. Rather than reactively adding more tools, look at what your overall objectives are and then evaluate what technology, existing or new, would most efficiently achieve them.
Listen to your people
Adoption of new digital tools requires cultural change. Employees will be more willing to change if they feel involved in the process – and that means starting with listening to employees’ needs. If employees are unable to see how new tools address their needs, they’re unlikely to adopt them, leading to projects with low ROI and dissatisfied staff at higher risk of leaving.
Personalize your approach
Different employee groups have unique needs, so a one-size-fits-all approach will not deliver results. Use listening data to segment your workforce and develop tailored training, support, and messaging to maximize the success of digitization.
Communicate in engaging ways
As with any EX program, employees need transparent communication. Create two-way conversations using a range of channels with the option for employees to provide quick pulse feedback (it can be as simple as a star rating for “how helpful was this?”). Make sure these communications are targeted, timely, and relevant communications to drive ongoing engagement!
Deliver what people need when they need it
A key benefit of digitization is breaking down silos for more efficient business processes. An effective digital employee experience should deliver the same benefit. Leverage technology to centralize and streamline employee onboarding so new hires are not scrambling to request a laptop from IT, ask for a badge from security/facilities management, provide bank details to finance, and register with HR. For existing employees, leverage AI and automation to provide seamless workflows, even for cross-functional teams.
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. Other key information includes usage data to get empirical evidence of adoption and regular check-in conversations at the team level to share what’s working, troubleshoot issues, and develop best practices.
Make your IT department more accessible
IT is not solely responsible for the digital employee experience. However, they will often be the first line of support for employees with questions or who are experiencing issues. That means IT staff need to be available, approachable, and user-friendly. Gartner characterizes this as re-framing the role of IT from problem solvers to enablers who 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.