Personal Group | Technology and the Employee Experience

Technology and the Employee Experience
Promoted by Technology and the Employee Experience

Wendy Melville

Wendy Melville

Head of Marketing

Personal Group

Personal Group

Sometimes it’s easier to talk about what the Employee Experience isn’t. Employee experience is not the employee lifecycle, the employee value proposition or talent management, it isn’t free perks for staff, an app or even employee satisfaction. An experience is something an employee has; it’s what former employees will look back on, and what future employees will ask prospective colleagues and what your current employees live every day.

Every organisation has an employee experience, albeit not always a positive one, and improving it means more than just improving processes and tools. A positive employee experience comes into existence when business-led initiatives consisting of authentic communications, appropriate channels, and accessible technology, align to employee expectations, needs and wants.

Too often we see ‘employee engagement’ and ‘employee experience’ categorised in the same way but that simply isn’t accurate. A great way of looking at it, and one a perspective that’s good to refer back to if lines get blurred, is from Jacob Morgan’s book, The Employee Experience Advantage. It says if “engagement is the effect – experience is the cause”. A great employee engagement initiative may be a shot of adrenaline, offering a short-term burst of life, however creating and maintaining a great employee experience is the long-term solution. The experience plays a central role in improving engagement, retention and productivity by encouraging your workforce to become advocates for your business.

To simplify the employee experience consists of three elements: the technological, the physical, and the cultural environments. Historically the physical environment has received the most attention. An employee’s experience of their physical environment might include an employee’s place of work, the temperature of the workplace, their desk, vehicle or production line, the amenities available, or even the food options on offer. It includes start times, work life balance and where employees eat their lunch or take their breaks. In the past decade More recently, we’ve seen huge focus on developing positive organisational cultures. Whilst the cultural element of the employee experience can feel a lot less tangible, technology can be put in place to support the culture you want to encourage within your organisation, but so often these processes are counter-productive to the culture you’re trying to create.

HR Technology
The workplace technological environment is the fastest moving and arguably the one that can deliver the quickest (both positive and negative) returns from the three environments in Morgans employee experience model. The technological environment is made up of the systems that staff use day to day, from the ATS through which they first applied for the job, to the LMS they experience during the onboarding process, and how they book holiday, call in sick and how they receive company news and announcements. A key consideration to note here is the heightened expectation employees have of technology outside of work, whether they’re shopping online, networking via an app, or sharing news with friends. In the workplace this has the effect of increasing employee expectations of workplace technology and, as we mentioned earlier, failing to meet employee expectations, needs and wants is a sure-fire way to worsen the overall employee experience. Businesses should learn from consumer grade experience and try to match these standards within the workplace. This means slick communications delivered to employees when and how they prefer.

Businesses are always being told to treat employees as well as they treat customers, but how often does this actually happen? Companies invest huge amounts in technology focussed on customer acquisition and retention strategies, but is the same attention being paid to the attraction and retention of employees? The potential capability of technology is difficult to argue against, but whether companies are implementing technology well is another question entirely. Research by PWC launched last year shows that 90% of C-suite executives believe their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology, yet only 53% of their employees agreed with this statement. This tells us that although the importance of good technology is understood, its implementation could do with some work. In order to achieve a positive employee experience, technology must be integrated into all aspects of the work environment rather than as an afterthought or ‘bolt on’.

But why does all this matter? Workplace engagement scores are either slowing or declining, and happiness at work is falling. At the same time, unrelenting macroeconomic headwinds mean that harnessing the power of the workforce - with the aim of driving productivity - has never been more important for businesses to succeed. Technology and the other areas of the overall employee experience are all areas that management can try to positively impact in the short to mid-term. Employee experience is something that can both help or hinder businesses in this respect, and its far-reaching effects should not be underestimated.

The takeaway message from this? Technology, culture and the physical environment all have a far reaching influence over your employee experience and if you’re making it difficult for staff to enjoy working for you, they may find something better.

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