The employee experience is evolving to a tech-focused future
Digital workplace collaboration tools will prove central to ensuring employee satisfaction in remote working teams
Ten years ago, there wasn’t a lot of thought given to the term ‘employee experience’. But now, it’s taking a bigger portion of employers’ attention as it encompasses the growing responsibilities to facilitate a positive experience for contractors, third parties, and partners, as well as employees. Due to this progress, ‘colleague experience’ seems a more fitting term.
Recently, but prior to the start of the 2020 COVID-19, companies were increasingly interested in how colleague experience could be used to attract and retain talent in a competitive recruitment market.
Since the pandemic, employee experiences have evolved rapidly through necessity. Now it’s front-and-center in most organizations’ minds, not only as a business priority for talent acquisition, but to also ensure colleagues stay engaged while working remotely.
Now employers are asking how they can achieve this? How can they create a positive onboarding experience remotely? And how can they make colleagues feel part of a team remotely?
And digital workplace technology is one of the tools that sits at the heart of this answer.
Bridging the gap between IT and HR
In the modern workspace we need to see a tightening in the relationship between HR and IT. Traditionally, the only interaction these two departments usually have is in the onboarding process. But with technology being so important in facilitating colleague experience while working remotely, there’s a greater need for IT and HR to align closely.
Also, we’re now seeing VPs of employee experience being recruited to bridge the gap. Their job is to coordinate the cultural and ethical side of the business in line with the tech side. There’s an essential need for organizations to focus on this as they move forward.
Enabling convenience and meeting the needs of a work life shift
Businesses are considering how they can meet individual needs rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach. This means encompassing choice into the workplace so colleagues can work in a way that best suits them and makes them most productive.
There’s definitely been an evolution in employee practices and how people are being recruited to enable this choice. Increasingly flexible working, part-time working, and more permanent working-from-home contracts have become more accepted. Autonomy in the office has also been encouraged through hot-desking, collaboration areas, and meeting spaces, as opposed to management offices and cubicles.
Again, workplace technology is an important part of this, as has been proven by the increased uptake in tech while colleagues work remotely during the pandemic. When considering colleague experience, you should be asking: what technologies will allow colleagues to work and be a part of the team regardless of their working hours or location?
Streamlining processes and measuring productivity
Despite my emphasis on the importance of workforce technology in the colleague experience, it’s also necessary to say technology shouldn’t be implemented just for the sake of it. Instead, it should streamline processes for efficiency and ease of use.
For example, how can you streamline the onboarding process to ensure employees can work from day one? I’ve seen companies take four to six weeks to onboard employees with the tech they need. And each day an employee has to spend fiddling around with device set-up increases costs, lowers productivity and fosters bad sentiment that can lead to these new recruits leaving the business.
Technology can also help measure productivity remotely which flags and nips problems in the bud. This means if you see a decline in productivity from an employee, you’re able to investigate why this might be and give them the support they need.
Returning to the office
Of course, secure remote working is very much in focus right now, and it’s what has caused this big pivot towards improving colleague experience. But as people begin to return to the office, businesses will need to look at what their colleague experience will look like, and how it will need to evolve to stay at its optimum.
There’s a number of things that have been important to colleague experience during this time, and I believe they’ll continue to be so. Going forward businesses should focus on:
- The growing relationship between HR and IT
- How to measure productivity and wellbeing appropriately
- How can AI be used to increase convenience for colleagues (e.g. self service)
- Digital workplace collaboration tools for better remote working