Reinventing the Employee Experience for the New Digital Age
August 21, 2020
Today we see companies revising their business models and incorporating technology to adapt to new digital channels and changing market demands. While digital transformation for customers is widely embraced as indispensable for survival, there are many companies that are either unconvinced of the need for internal transformation or don’t know where to start.
However, the magnitude of change taking place within organizations is as important if not more so than knowing how to adapt to evolving consumer habits in the digital era. Just in the last six months, we saw a massive migration worldwide to remote work models with employees adopting new technologies (from one day to the next in some cases). The result is a radical transformation of work dynamics, which has impacted every aspect of how employees interact with their organizations.
Surveys show that there is a shift in employees’ attitudes and expectations. As part of those changes, the digital experience has become a priority. Just as customers benefit from omnichannel “designed experiences,” employees also want to interact, learn, and give feedback with technological solutions, in a flexible and intuitive manner.
The new work environment must evolve to offer more fluid experiences between the virtual world and the physical world, adapting the employee journey to the digital transformation fast-tracked under a hybrid-remote work model. But with so many of your employees working remotely, how do you maintain a strong and attractive culture?
I am going to share some ideas about how you can redesign the employee-centric “approach,” allowing digital and on-site experiences to coexist as part of the job journey, and at the same time drive a culture of digital transformation and innovation.
How Can Technology Improve the Employee Experience?
For years, employee centricity has been referred to as a talent management strategy that seeks to understand and involve employees so that they can reach their greatest potential. During the Covid-19 crisis, the importance of empathetic leadership as a means for organizations to stay connected to their people was brought center stage as they strove to generate stability and trust in a scenario of extreme uncertainty. At the same time, new ways of organizing work require new skills: adaptation, continuous training, innovation, autonomy, goal-oriented tasks, among others. Mission impossible? No. Digital innovation is closing the gap between people and technology, making it possible to take advantage of the best of both worlds.
The employee experience is much more than the ping pong table in the rec room (especially with everyone working from home), it is how people “live” the organization, how they feel and how they interact with it. Achieving a positive employee-company relationship is vital to generating commitment and enthusiasm for change, a key ingredient of any digital transformation.
How can we optimize this bond between employees and companies? We can create attractive and innovative experiences at each point of contact, at every stage throughout the work-life cycle, or in other words: by building a journey map.
To take action, let’s look at three significant moments in an employee’s life that could be overhauled using the tools available in the new digital age.
The Onboarding Experience
Onboarding is a valuable opportunity to generate a positive, deep and long-lasting relationship with an employee from day one. Successful onboarding strategies awaken engagement, motivation and confidence by accelerating adaptation timeframes, jumpstarting the new hire’s productive cycle. The focus needs to be on the experiences of the new employee, not on the process. Technology must empower the worker to make themselves known to others while they become familiar with the organization. It should allow them to connect with their peers, define objectives, give and receive feedback, recognize others and thank them. The biggest benefit is that the new employee becomes increasingly immersed in the company’s culture with each interaction.
Career Development Experience
Careers in a company follow a growth path that employees build day by day in partnership with their leaders and the organization. Today there are digital 360° feedback solutions that allow them to see development opportunities in an agile and effective way, measuring their progress over time. Again, here we see how technology enables a feedback culture aligned with continuous improvement, innovation, agile methodologies, and adaptation, all fundamental capabilities for digital transformation.
Moreover, digital solutions generate relevant and segmented data so companies can visualize and understand how their employees are interacting with the organization. The data can then be used to optimize the employee experience and strengthen those relationships.
The Learning Experience
Educational innovation is revolutionizing the way people learn. New platforms, interactive resources, and methodologies based on artificial intelligence make it easier to personalize learning experiences, providing employees with limitless opportunities for growth.
At the same time, employees are taking a more active role in the digital era. They are no longer passive agents waiting for training. Today they are the creators of their own learning journey. Digital transformation requires people who can quickly “relearn” and leverage their knowledge, as well as to adapt their skills so they can use new technologies as they become available. Employees have to understand that they are immersed in a changing scenario, where choosing what to learn is in itself a lesson.
Today, employees expect personalized digital experiences enabled by simple and intuitive technological solutions that allow them to interact easily with their coworkers and the organization. These experiences, combined with in-person interactions, should be part of employees’ daily work routines. They should focus on building and strengthening connections between people, mitigating the negative impact of physical distance on trust and productivity.
Journeys that are essentially digital can help employees ease into the necessary mindset demanded by today’s disruptive, uncertain, and volatile world. As organizations adopt these new digital practices, values, and methodologies, their culture will be transformed into a strength that will attract and empower talent and innovation.
Today is the time to rethink the work environment. Companies must reinvent their employee experience strategy for the hybrid reality that will shape the future of work. Those that understand the importance of designing journeys powered by technology will have a great competitive advantage, not only because they will have more committed and motivated employees, but also because they will be prepared for the inevitable digital transformation we are heading into.