In today’s digital world, employees expect a new kind of experience on the job: productive, engaging, enjoyable, and also mobile-enabled. It’s a tall order, but the growing influence of millennials-a big part of the driving force behind it-leaves companies little choice but to respond. Progressive organizations are now rethinking the employee experience using an integrated approach to their workplace, HR, and management practices, and they’re supporting that new strategy with pulse feedback tools, wellness apps, self-service technologies, and more.
Many companies recognize that providing an engaging employee experience can help them attract and retain top talent, and even drive a strong customer experience.¹ Yet delivering on that imperative is another matter. Whereas nearly 80 percent of executives rate employee experience as very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent) in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report,² only 22 percent say their companies are excellent at building a differentiated experience. Fifty-nine percent report they are not ready or only somewhat ready to address the employee experience challenge.
For many, a new approach is required-one that builds on HR’s traditional focus on culture and engagement to reshape the employee experience holistically, considering all the contributors to worker satisfaction, engagement, wellness, and alignment.
A Holistic Approach
Traditionally, HR has addressed issues such as employee engagement, culture, rewards, and career development as separate, independent programs, each with a senior HR leader, a set of tools and diagnostics, and solutions to drive and measure change.
Employees tend to see the picture differently. For them, everything that happens at work is part of an integrated experience that shapes daily life, including their overall physical, emotional, professional, and financial well-being. Employees expect not only a better-designed experience, but also new models of delivery. Just as they can manage much of their lives through a handful of smartphone apps, so they expect every element of their employee experience to be accessible and easy to use on their mobile devices.
And it isn’t just employees scrutinizing the experience. Candidates assess prospective employers from their earliest recruiting experiences and make quick judgments about what life would be like for them in an organization.
A holistic approach to the employee experience hinges on ongoing feedback and analytics to help HR teams and line leaders understand more fully what the talent they employ expects and values. A new breed of pulse survey tools from a range of vendors including Glint, TINYpulse, and PeoplePulse can help.
Today, only 22 percent of companies survey employees quarterly or more often; 79 percent survey employees annually or less frequently; and 14 percent never survey them at all. This neglect helps explain other challenges companies face today. For example, only 23 percent of companies believe their employees are fully aligned with the corporate purpose. And while 84 percent have a program in place to measure work-life balance, just 23 percent claim it is excellent, according to Deloitte’s report.
Moving beyond annual or biannual engagement surveys to regular pulse surveys and open feedback systems can help companies build a complete, real-time understanding of the issues their employees face. Borrowing from marketing and CX methodology, some organizations go even further and institute a Net Promoter score, which yields a single number summarizing employees’ assessments of the employee experience. That metric can then be measured and tracked over time.
As one forward-thinking retail executive noted, “We used to prioritize our stakeholders as shareholders first, customers second, and employees third. We now realize we had it backward. If we put employees first, they in turn take care of our customers, (who) in turn take care of our shareholders.”
So Many Apps for That
In addition to new technologies for ongoing feedback, countless digital and mobile tools have emerged to help HR design and deliver the desired employee experience in other areas:
Productivity and collaboration. A recent study by Deloitte and Facebook found that only 14 percent of companies believe their internal processes for collaboration and decision making work well; 77 percent believe email is no longer a viable tool for effective communication. Products such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google G-Suite are designed to support productivity and offer integrated platforms for communication, collaboration, and goal alignment.
Performance management. A new breed of continuous performance management products from vendors such as Reflektive, BetterWorks, and Zugata can enable real-time performance feedback via check-ins, goal management, reviews, peer recognition, and more.
Well-being. Wellness apps from vendors such as Limeade and Virgin Pulse offer features such as competitions, fitness tools, wearables integration, and micro-learning.
Employee self-service platforms. Helping employees get the answers they need quickly and efficiently around the clock not only increases productivity, but can also lower costs by reducing the need for human assistance. Self-service tools from vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle are designed to support employees by helping them address some of their own HR needs, such as applications for reimbursement or updates to personal information. Content management, chatbots, natural language processing, and easy-to-use web and mobile portals are just some of the technologies being applied to this area.
In rethinking the work experience, some innovative companies look to employees themselves for inspiration. Cisco, for example, recently held a 24-hour global hackathon to collect employee ideas for performance management, workplace design, benefits, and rewards. Supported by technologies including WebEx and a custom app for tracking team activity, the event’s 800 or so participants brainstormed more than 100 new HR solutions.
Hackathons have become a popular strategy for generating ideas to help solve complex problems in a variety of areas. In the HR context, this open, collaborative approach engages employees directly in working to design a “perfect” work experience.
Looking across the 10 trends identified in this year’s Global Human Capital Trends report, it’s clear that employee experience is a central theme in 2017. By working with other C-suite leaders, CMOs can help make the employee experience a critical, competitive differentiator for their organizations.
-by Josh Bersin, principal and founder, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP
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