Digital Employee Experience - Holistic and human-heavy approaches are emerging
There is a growing realisation that the needs (and well-being) of employees are not being met by the fragmented setup inside most organisations; that the employee experience (EX) is both confusing and often unnecessarily (painfully!) complex. This realisation is a natural development, often spawned by the way organisations have evolved how they interact with their external customers - a more holistic approach to "customer experience" (CX). For years, organisations have been mapping out their customer journeys, identified touchpoints and pain points and optimised the experience through focusing on the "end-to-end experience". The penny is finally dropping (albeit slowly in places) that in order to provide a good CX, you need to address the equally disjointed experience of your employees.
The gradual and seemingly never-ending introduction of digital tools, services and channels into every pocket of the workplace has (despite intentions of the exact opposite) not made the workday less complex. The employee journey through the myriad of on- and offline touchpoints is becoming harder to navigate - and the map(s) are not easy to draw as the many bits of the journey are designed and controlled by different stakeholders with different directions of travel and using different references.
The end-to-end employee experience is made up of a vast number of elements and covers every aspect of the employee’s interaction with the organisation; from the moment the job application is submitted over the period of employment to the eventual departure. A natural consequence is that “sub-categories” have emerged, such as the employee’s experience with all things digital; an area, which also lacks consistency and coherence in most organisations.
A shift in focus is required
The term Digital Employee Experience (DEX) has gained momentum. A number of definitions and predictions have been made about how this notion will evolve. It is a subject surrounded by a lot of hype right now. Providers of tools and services talk up this phenomenon as the hottest new thing. Literature, products, training and conferences emerge under the digital employee experience banner. I hesitate to call it new; providing a good experience at work and supporting it it with digital tools and services has been something employers have aspired to do for decades. So is it all hype? Not quite: but in order to successfully take that desired leap forward and really improve the experience, I believe that there has to be a shift in focus. At ConnectMinds, we are lucky to be able to follow and observe the different approaches organisations take; we see those developments first hands as we get up-to-date insights on what is being tried, what works and what is dismissed at the quarterly MindMeets in our many groups in Europe, the US and Canada.
Thus far, much of the DEX focus has been on ensuring that the many tools and touchpoints are better integrated, logically presented, easy to access and that the right tools and services are targeted to reach the right employee at the right time. This is in itself a mammoth task - far from accomplished by the vast majority of organisations. And even in those organisations that have made a half-decent job of “stringing it all together at the back-end”, feedback from employees indicates that the workforce overall remains confused and overwhelmed by the many and frequent changes to processes and ways of working brought about by the growth of digital.
Switching the tool on is only the beginning
Addressing this requires different skills and competences than those traditionally held by internal comms, classic HR, IT or corporate comms roles. We have seen some of the more visionary organisations in the ConnectMinds network experimenting with entirely new team structures with the objective of working to improve DEX. Folks with different skills to the ones already on the team are brought in. Sometimes through temporarily placing profiles with different skills inside the team; analysts, business process owners and support staff, for example. They can help with crunching the data, analyse behaviours and bring in the voice of the customer (employee), when working on identifying where the pain points and opportunities are. And the real remedy to fixing those pain points is rarely a technical one. It is an ongoing cycle of feedback, analysis, improvement / modification and support; not an automated ticket system or a series of video tutorials, but real human support. Not just initial training on the tool or changes themselves, but an ongoing and sustained effort. And as established already, the landscape is incessantly changing, the goalposts keep moving; the bar is on an upwards trajectory at all times. Thus, one of the stark and ironic realisations for many organisations is that they will have to inject more hours; more hands and minds into making the investment in digital deliver to its full potential. It is about so much more than implementing the tools and switching them on; it is after “go live” that the hard and really rewarding work commences. And it is almost invariably a cross-functional effort that is required to optimise the digital employee experience. Once this has been established and understood, it follows that it takes someone sufficiency senior with enough stars on their shoulders to make the different functions (or rather: the heads of the functions) talk, agree and align their efforts according to the employee journey - and not (which is always tempting) according to what would be most beneficial for them and their particular snippet of the journey.
All of these DEX discoveries are playing out at different paces in organisations across our network - and the insights and the changes they bring about are being shared at MindMeets throughout the year. -And we always approach the developments and their consequences from the point of view of our ConnectMinds members. Your feedback and reactions are always welcome - it keeps the dialogue going!
Further input about Employee Experience:
Jonas Bladt Hansen on What Internal Communicators should start to focus on now