Employees need a workplace to call their own – here’s how to give it to them
People power business.
This is something lots of companies claim to understand. And yet, many businesses are still failing to provide their employees with an exciting, positive and empowering employee experience.
I recently sat with Nerys Mutlow, Head of Future Workplace Services at Fujitsu Global for an interview about the importance of employee experience – and the way it can be shaped by the workplace.
In this blog post, I’m going to expand on some of the ideas I put forward in the interview. Read on to find out more.
Good employee experience leads to good customer experience
The era of a job for life is over. Today’s workforce moves between different employers much more frequently – according to data collected by LinkedIn, today’s graduates have twice as many jobs in the five years after leaving education as their counterparts 20 years ago.
This means businesses have to do more to attract and retain the right people. And this is where employee experience is crucial.
If you don’t provide a good employee experience, you’ll cause your people to become frustrated, disengaged and unmotivated. Eventually they will leave.
On the other hand, when you deliver a good employee experience, you empower your workers to achieve and enjoy their job while they’re doing it. And the benefits of an engaged, empowered workforce are huge.
The retail sector provides a great example of this. So much of the retail process can be automated – customers can use self-service checkouts, for instance – but the engaged employee can be magic.
Think about the last time you had a really great chat at the checkout. Or maybe you can recall a moment when a shop assistant went the extra mile to find something you were looking for, or help you get a discount.
These moments leave a big impression on customers. They encourage you to come back to the store, and leave you with a great impression of the brand.
And this magic comes from an engaged employee. To put it simply: good customer experience comes from good employee experience.
Technology is instrumental in enabling you to create a great working environment for your employees. It allows you to give your employees the freedom and choice they need to do things – and succeed – in their own way.
Choice is king
In the interview with Nerys, we spoke quite a lot about choice.
When I first started at work, we would just use the equipment we were given. We had no say in the matter.
But this doesn’t work. Employees are different, and they have different needs. You have to support this if you’re going to get the most out of everyone.
This is especially important in today’s multi-generation workplace. We now have up to four generations sharing the same office or factory floor.
There’s huge value in each generation, but they don’t all work in the same way. In my experience, for instance, younger people find it really intuitive to talk to their devices. But older employees don’t necessarily feel comfortable communicating with their tech via voice.
So you need to give everyone choice, so they can operate in the way that suits them best.
And this choice extends beyond devices and hardware. You also need to provide people with flexibility when it comes to deciding where and when they work.
Simplifying the labour of work
Today, we’re looking at a new way to get work done.
Traditionally we have provided applications which are designed as a whole package. But only a fraction of people use the capability of the whole package.
We need to do better at making things simpler for the casual user.
So, we’ve started presenting subsets of the application, ‘micro apps’ which allow a single task or process to be completed without ever opening the full application. They are really simple and intuitive, and enable the casual user to do the thing they need – and that’s it.
This means people won’t have to go on long and unnecessary training courses just to learn how to use their device. Instead, they can just pick up and go – which is crucial today, when freelancers make up a growing percentage of the workforce.
And we can simplify things even further. We’re presenting tasks in the manner of a social feed, so that you can log in and see what you have to do in the same way you would see news from your friends on a networking platform.
You’ll also receive notifications alerting you to tasks people need you to complete – a colleague may need you to review a document, for example.
Different applications send notifications which you can review from one centralised space, so you don’t have to waste time searching through different apps.
Enlivening the employee experience – with the help of machines
Then, machine learning will introduce another layer of efficiency into the mix.
Machine learning can track your working patterns, to help you understand how you work best. This means we can start guiding people through their workday, automatically prioritising their list of tasks according to what’s most urgent and what will suit them most to work on.
So, if you think creatively in the morning, the AI will learn to place creative tasks first in your schedule.
And this level of automation will remove the burden of tasks which just seem unnecessary.
Imagine, for example, you always approve expenses forms of less than £100. The AI will pick up on this, and ask you if you would prefer all expenses claims of this size simply to be approved automatically.
This will free employees from doing the small, annoying tasks that interrupt their day – making their experience at work far more satisfying and interesting.
The foundation for positive employee experience
It’s clear that technology is the foundation for a positive employee experience – now, and especially in the future.
And what’s so exciting is that we don’t know where this will lead. We can’t predict what the workspace will look like for the average employee in ten years’ time.
But as long as we focus on the employee as an individual, and use technology to give them choices about how, when and where they work, we can’t go far wrong.