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Eight strategies critical to improving employee experience

Gary Taylor

Organizations increasingly understand the importance of improving employee experience, but the need for supporting a homebound workforce increased the urgency to act decisively to make the necessary changes.

Indeed, the rapid shift to equipping employees to work from home forced some organizations into rushing to engineer employee experience strategies that they otherwise would have spent a lot more time developing.

The Capgemini Research Institute surveyed 500 organizations and 5,000 employees around the world and spoke with academics and executives, and found that remote working is definitely the new normal – 75% of the organizations expect at least 30% of their employees to work remotely, while over 30% expect 70% of their workforce to become remote. As they transition, organizations are finding that remote work boosted productivity and cost savings by up to 24% in Q3 2020.

However, more than just enabling workers, employee experience technology plays an essential role in how employees feel about their day-to-day work experience. It’s part of a comprehensive strategy that must include multiple components, including listening to employee feedback, measuring essential IT metrics, optimizing HR policies, and of course, improving the physical workplace – wherever that happens to be.

While the human touch is undeniably important, emerging technologies and digital transformation are crucial tools for business leaders who want to drive meaningful change in their employee experience, thus setting the stage for improving the bottom line.

Every company wants to keep its employees satisfied and productive because a great employee experience translates to great business results. As more people work from home or remotely, the employee experience becomes increasingly critical to employee satisfaction and many other key factors that impact business performance.

The Capgemini Research Institute’s (CRI’s) premium journal for CXOs, Conversations for Tomorrow, covers this topic in its latest edition, The Future of Work Starts Now.

In addition to surveys and monitoring tools, using the right applications is essential to ensure employees have a great experience. The tools that are used – from expense reporting to meetings and collaboration – have a big impact on employees’ perception of their experience of everyday work.

Employee experience technology

Talented employees who are happy and engaged are more productive and less likely to leave. Even before the pandemic, many organizations were looking at ways to better engage their workforce, improve employee retention, and differentiate themselves in the constant battle to attract and retain the best talent.

Previously, organizations had focused on capabilities such as employee self-service, and learning and development to engage employees. But many organizations weren’t gathering feedback across the workforce, listening effectively, and analyzing this information. While many organizations traditionally use annual – and sometimes more regular – reviews and periodic touchpoints, the data from these events was typically more informal or couldn’t be aggregated in a way that could be analyzed. But with modern tools and the right approach, this is now possible.

Challenges implementing employee experience technology

As with the implementation of any new solution, focusing too much on the technology and not enough on the users, business processes and outcomes can lead to the wrong results. When implementing employee experience technology, it is important to focus on the outcomes and to understand what the strategy should be to assimilate and act on employee feedback.

When building employee surveys, it is important to write questions carefully to ensure that they match the strategy and produce the desired outcomes. Often, organizations bring in psychologists and data scientists to help define outcomes and build out the corresponding questions.

It’s also important to consider the needs of everyone who works for the organization, including contingent workers, temps, and other members of the extended workforce. While these types of workers are only with the organization on a temporary basis, many of them spend a significant amount of time working for it. Engaging and including these types of workers – and ensuring that they share as positive an experience as their permanent counterparts – helps boost their productivity and their incorporation into work teams.

Many organizations have business units and departments that operate in a siloed manner, but allowing this disconnected approach to interfere with an employee experience technology deployment will have a dramatic effect on the success of the implementation. Employee experience affects every worker, so cross-collaboration between different business units and departments is important to ensure that employee experience technology can be implemented effectively.

How to improve the employee experience with technology

The employee experience can be improved using modern technology. It may be through a solution that functions as a de facto employee experience platform covering most of the touchpoints in the employee lifecycle using an integrated measurement solution across systems, such as Capgemini’s employee experience index, or it could be technology more focused on employee experience, known to have the most impact, such as collaboration tools.

Here are eight strategies critical to improving employee experience:

  1. Implement an employee experience monitoring technology: Technology dedicated to monitoring employee experience will be essential and will directly influence the employee experience strategy. Gathering data and feedback from the workforce and analyzing the aggregated feedback trends over time to measure the employee experience will identify what needs to be changed and help guide the steps to improve it. This could include collecting feedback on topics such as a new policy or application that was rolled out, the existing application landscape or help desk ticket response times. Capgemini’s Employee Experience Index is a comprehensive way of tracking employee experience across an organization.
  2. Improve productivity: One of the biggest winners for a business and the bottom line is to improve employee productivity. Using employee experience monitoring technology and implementing organizational, policy, and culture changes based on the feedback received, will help ensure employees are happier, more engaged, and more productive.
  3. Digital adoption: If a new solution requires significant effort, such as necessitating a manual or assistance from a colleague, they will lag in adoption by employees. Lack of use, in turn, brings data-integrity issues or motivates employees to seek workarounds that only redistribute the workload elsewhere. Use of a digital adoption solution can help close what Gartner calls the dexterity gap – which is measured between an organization’s digital workplace technology and their employees’ ability to use the technology to its full potential.
  4. Employee choice: Giving employees choice, creative freedom, and the digital tools to do their job more effectively is a flexible and powerful way to provide an experience that they will find engaging and rewarding. While creative freedom and choice come from policy and corporate culture decisions, providing employees with the right tools to do their jobs is a technology decision that augments the chances an organization can attract and retain top talent.
  5. Review your portfolio of applications: Not every aspect of improving the employee experience involves implementing employee experience technology. Every business application an employee uses affects their experience. These applications can range from common systems, such as time entry and expense management to business-specific applications, such as an inventory or content management system. A recent survey found that 90% of C-suite executives believe their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology, but only about half (53%) of staff agreed.
  6. Gathering feedback from employees, rationalizing the application landscape, ensuring you have the best applications and they are correctly implemented, and integrating the applications across the application landscape will make a significant difference in how employees work. Ensuring a consistent user experience across enterprise applications should be a high priority.
  7. Optimize self-services: Self-service capabilities in HR and IT systems provide significant time savings for the business, but the applications must be simple to use. In some cases, an employee may only need to change their personal data, view their pay slip or look up another employee on the organizational chart. Ensuring that the system is easy to use, works well, can be accessed on mobile devices, and has simple workflows that can easily be followed to completion will create easy wins.
  8. Enhance information security: Enabling a more dispersed workforce also increases the attack surface for cybercriminals. Ensuring that corporate information remains protected is challenging. Research suggests that 77% of remote employees are using unmanaged and unsecured devices to access corporate systems. Protecting information with a distributed workforce is challenging for IT staff who are already stretched thin.

Finally, a host of collaboration tools have become popular in recent years, enhancing the way employees work together. Tools such as Microsoft Teams and Google Chat & Meet have proven to make working together easier, which is something that employees need, particularly as organizations adjust to a post-pandemic world.

Before signing off, I would recommend that you read the latest edition of our Conversations for Tomorrow – The Future of Work Starts Now, and two of our recently published research reports –The Future of Work, and the Fluid Workforce Revolution, and check out the podcast, End of the office or return to the office?, in this podcast industry experts are discussing the impact of the global pandemic on how and where we work, innovate, and collaborate and impact of COVID-19 in accelerating the disruption.