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Going the extra mile: How digital transformation can improve employee experiences

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/gpointstudio)

Some companies seem to spare no expense to create incredible customer experiences:

  • Starbucks: That £4 cup of coffee is not only for the cup, hot water, and beans; rather it’s for employee training, a pleasant ambience, and free Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Amazon: Has developed a purchasing and distribution platform to seamlessly connect buyers to their products from wherever a wireless connection is available.
  • Apple: went from being a small tech start-up in a California garage to being one of the biggest brands on the planet. Apple customers don’t just get a product. They get stores filled with ‘geniuses’ to help you with setting up, fixing or exploring any product issues that you may have and the feeling that you belong to a worldwide community of like-minded individuals.
  • While companies invest heavily to attract and retain customers, companies rarely undertake similar efforts to improve employee experience. But they should, because good employees are hard to come by and even harder to retain. Increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and lower costs are all intrinsically linked to positive employee experiences. When the recruitment market is tight and competition for talent is high, it’s never been more important.
  • So, what is employee experience? Why is it important? And, how can you leverage digital transformation to enhance systems and services to improve it?

The issue: Employee experience

In business, we often understand experience from a client perspective: the sum total of conscious events from beginning to end – the client ‘journey’ if you like. As a guest or client, our experiences comprise interactions, processes, feelings, intelligence, and the expertise that providers can offer.

Employee experience is a similar process – the sum of our employment experience from beginning to end. It goes far beyond the human resource element. It covers everything from onboarding procedures, performance reviews, training, incentives, requesting IT support, locating proprietary data from internal sites in order to complete projects or build proposals, and eventually, offboarding.

But how easy is it for your employees to navigate the daily work processes of your business? What if, as a business, we were to transform digital offerings to provide the same top-notch experience for our employees as we do for our clients?

Based on a first-ever survey of over 1,000 information workers by Lawless Research, only a third of represented companies earned high scores for IT integration. In fact, 43 per cent of respondents spend at least half of their workday on manual processes.

Integrated business processes improve employee experiences, which raises employee satisfaction and workplace engagement. The survey also found that 57 per cent of respondents from high-integration companies are more enthusiastic about their work which is important because enthused workers tend to be more productive and create more value. 

Companies that invest in digital transformation, (the streamlining of business processes using digital technology), will enhance process integration to improve customer and employee services while differentiating themselves in the marketplace.

So, how do you improve employee experience—the daily work experience of your employees? Here are some tips.

  • Step 1: Create employee personas

Experiences are not one size fits all.

You should view employees just as you would customers—in segments. Build personas to determine how individuals would interact with your employee services based on roles and experiences. (A ‘persona’ in this context is a fictional three dimensional description of an ideal employee for a particular role which will inform how you interact with them, where to look for them and what sort of incentives they are looking for) A 50-year-old accountant would have a different mindset and experience than a 28-year-old graphic designer for example. A higher-education institution may develop different personas for its staff, alumni, students and faculty.

To build successful personas, you must identify your users and build profiles based on different roles. You also must anticipate needs and experiences to develop tools to help employees navigate your integrated portal.

  • Step 2: Map employee journeys

The first step in any successful self-service employee experience begins with the journey—and a map of it.

For example, when you take a cross-country trip, it’s not just the plane ride. Consider how you research and book the travel arrangements, arrive at the airport, pass through security lines, experience the flight (middle seat, exit row, first class), navigate connections, rent a car, and finally arrive at your destination. At any of these moments, you may experience positive, negative, or neutral experiences.

A similar map and evaluation can be done for onboarding experiences, as employees enter the company through a portal to complete necessary paperwork and processes to begin working with your company. A welcome meeting, free lunch, and company t-shirt are a nice start, but is a new employee’s company laptop ready for login (with clear instructions for how to do it), do they have immediate access to files so they can begin work, and keep easily accessing necessary IT and files each day and from wherever they are working? The sum of these interactions reflects their employee experience and impact on their engagement, attitude, and productivity.

  • Step 3: Keep your eyes on the KPIs

You will need to measure successes and challenges for your integrated platform service to enhance employee experience. However, traditional IT key performance indicators—KPIs such as total cost per contact, fulfilment time, Level 0 failure rate—don’t necessarily support self-service platforms. You can utilise Google Analytics to track users, sessions, usage rates and times, and devices employees use to access your platform

  • Step 4: Modernise your enterprise

Your digital transformation should utilise enterprise service management (ESM) applications across several departments: human resources, facilities, customer service, finance, and training. ESM is about working across silos to deliver what people need when they need it: right product at the right time. If customers can navigate seamlessly across departments to get what they need, shouldn’t employees have the same experience?

Ultimately, these steps will help you provide support to your most important resource: your people. Without them, your business won’t run. Unfortunately, most companies haven’t made these critical investments: differentiate your brand by providing world class experience to both customers and employees.

Matt Klassen, VP of Product Marketing, Cherwell

Matt Klassen, VP of Product at Cherwell Software.