Employee experiences (EX) encapsulate every touchpoint and interaction an employee has across their career lifecycle. A human-centric employee experience strategy captures the needs and wants of employees, delivers positive emotions and perceptions of an organization, and strengthens employee productivity and performance.
With Covid-19 affecting our lifestyles and ways of working, and with an increasing number of Millennials and Gen Z’s entering the workforce, the focus of employee expectations has shifted. The workforce of today is motivated by factors beyond salary and financial benefits and more towards work-life balance, flexibility, workplace values and culture. Employees also expect a standard of technology in keeping with the apps they use in their personal lives. The effect of “consumerization of technology” is being reflected in the digital tools, enablers, and workspaces of experience driven organizations today. As part of an organization’s licence to operate, ability to attract new talent, retain staff and increase employee productivity, it is essential for firms to focus on three ingredients to EXccelerate their employee experiences: digital, emotional and physical.
- Digital experience
The last decade has seen experience management being used for external customers through the concept of customer experience (CX). However, employee experience remained a discussion topic that was often considered as a ‘nice to have’, apart from a few exceptionally matured organizations. Fast forward to March 2020, the pandemic hit leaving over 70% of the workforce forced to work from home. Deadlines had to be met with physical presence near impossible, and life was taking a paradigm shift to living in virtual reality. This led most organizations to upping their ante and making employees’ experience easier at work so they could deliver more productively whenever, wherever. Now in 2022, with the expansion of remote and hybrid work environment options, the topic of employee experience and specifically digital employee experience (DEX) has become progressively larger and more integral to improvement discussions. It is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but more a must have for employees in their day to day working lives.
Every business is now digital, and employees depend on workplace technology to be successful in their roles. Organizations across the globe are recognizing the need to improve DEX. This has gone beyond self-service automations provided by modern human capital management systems, which were much appreciated by Gen X. Millennials and Gen Z expect answers at their fingertips at anytime and anywhere. They prefer to experience the same service levels at their workplace as in their personal life. This requires organizations to drop the silos between various departmental support functions. Applications on the go, chatbots and conversational AI have enhanced self-service solutions empowering employees to stay connected and providing them with a more tangible workplace, despite remote and hybrid workstyles.
All eyes are now on IT leaders to drive DEX improvements to support their company’s ability to attract and retain talent. Infosys Consulting brings to market a suite of agile DEX services ranging from digital experience strategy, employee experience blueprinting, development of DEX business cases, supporting the selection of appropriate DEX technology and supporting implementation and adoption of DEX.
- Emotional experience
Connecting with employees on an emotional level can be provided through employee listening. Employee listening is an all-encompassing proposition by an organization designed to understand how employees are thinking and feeling, uncovering the ‘whys’ behind their actions, and being willing and able to change with an agile, ever-evolving fluidity. For employee listening to be truly practiced, an organization must want to listen to involve, understand, adapt, and even evolve. As the term employee listening suggests, such initiatives look to hear a diverse range of employee voices across the organization.
To listen to the voice of employees requires a multi-modal approach that considers a varied range of in-roads to collect people insights. Traditional methods such as surveys, interviews, questionnaires, and observation continue to be effective listening enablers that provide valuable insights. However, given the ever-increasing competitive markets in which organizations operate in, coupled with the unpredictability that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, there is a need for firms to introduce always-on listening models that are integrated into process and technology operations.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, organizations that prioritized the employee voice were able to leverage feedback to gauge how their people were feeling, what employee wellbeing support was required, and how to shape future decisions on areas such as hybrid working. Employee listening has been proven to benefit organizations from increasing employee efficiency by 21%, engagement by 22% and alignment to organization objectives by 31%. With such benefits in mind, many firms are now establishing employee listening models that go beyond the traditional listening methods and incorporate their own catalogue of methodologies, frameworks, and employee networks to listen in line with the priorities of the firm.
An effective employee listening model is underpinned by practitioners who can earn the trust of employees and empathize with an inquisitive mindset that suspends judgment. They would be able to achieve this through a journey of discovery, establishing trust, listening to diagnose, participating to co-create and finally validating their hypotheses and findings.
Executive sponsorship from the highest levels of leadership is required to promote and embed the culture and practice of employee listening throughout the organization. Listening practitioners are best placed at the heart of business operations where they can maintain a symbiotic relationship with the likes of product owners, process owners and centers of excellence. With cross-functional relationships intact, employee listening can provide the impetus to deliver an employee experience that exceeds employee expectations as well as supporting the workforce to deliver in line with the business strategy.
- Physical experience
The physical element of an employee experience refers to the locations in which work and productivity takes place. For desk-based workers, the physical workplace has typically been regarded as an organization’s corporate offices. However, Covid-19 has accelerated the shift from the 9 to 5 in the office towards flexible and hybrid work patterns. With many employees now working remotely or with fewer days in the office, an employee’s workplace may now also be their home, a coffee shop, their walking route as they take calls from their phone or a mixture of different locations.
The radical shift to hybrid working means that organizations now need to think about how to adapt their workplace in alignment with new ways of working and personalized workforce needs. Every organization is made up of personas with different workstyles. From “Discoverers” to “Pushers” and “Integrators”, awareness of such personas and their characteristics can determine what workspace attributes, tools and enablers they need to further their productivity. For example, “Pushers” (also known as “Battlers”) tend to prefer a traditional approach to office furniture with allocated, simple desks and chairs. They may also be more open to an unplanned atmosphere so that they can work as a team to reach common goals. Enterprise-wide, collaboration tools with project management features can also support “Pushers” with driving activities remotely and collaborating with wide-ranging stakeholder groups. Such personalized considerations can enable the workforce to better embrace workspace offerings and complemented with the right tools, can lead to a high performing ecosystem and happy employees.
Re-designing the workplace in a post-pandemic world offers significant advantages when delivered with a proof-of-concept style approach. The transient nature of markets today suggests that changes in employee needs and expectations should be taken as a given. Therefore, looking across the organizational landscape, identifying the key workplace offerings and workstyles that exist can present a view on new initiatives to test. Leveraging the insights that strategic partners can offer to scan the market can support in identifying the latest workspace solutions and technology enablers in line with workstyle needs. Seeing what works, tracking benefits and being ready to flex and adjust prior to taking forward any larger scale deployments can be cost-effective and provide the agility needed in today’s volatile competitive climate.
Through the disruptions of the last two years, employees are re-evaluating what the world of work means to them. Expectations have changed the way they view their workplace, work-life balance and what they are looking for from their employer. Only the organizations that adapt to these changing needs and embrace the three key ingredients to EXccelerate their employee experiences, are set to reap the rewards of a truly motivated and productive workforce.
- Ragini Hazari Senior Consultant, Infosys Consulting
- Eduardo Nogueira Consultant, Infosys Consulting
Somdatta is leading the HR transformation team as part of Talent & Organization in UK and Europe, advising clients in HR transformation and digitization. She has been providing consulting and advisory to global clients on defining the best path to HR journey through complex transformation and digital experience ranging from strategy and vision to execution and adoption.
Kelly de Freitas
Kelly is a senior management consultant within Infosys Consulting’s Talent and Organization practice. She has over 6 years of experience driving customer experience design, strategy development, product management and shared service operations advisory. Her experience has included advising on the largest Workday and HR service enabling technology transformation undertaken by any firm globally. Kelly holds an MSc and BA (Hons) in Business Management from University College London and University of Kent respectively.
Rebecca is a senior consultant in Infosys Consulting’s Talent & Organization practice in the UK. She has 5 years of consulting experience across multiple projects advising clients, particularly in the oil & gas and pharmaceutical industries, on global HR transformations, user experience and change & communications.