4 Expectations of the Digital Workforce
Est. Read Time: 3 min.
Today’s workforce, comprised of an ever-growing population of digital natives, interacts with incredible technology every day. Google gives us an unimaginable amount of information in a split second. Amazon knows what we want to order before we do. Uber enables us to hire a car service with the push of a button. The underlying technology is powerful and complex, but the user experience is astonishingly simple and easy to use. Because of these consumer-grade user experiences, the workforce has higher expectations for workplace technology than ever before. Organizations who do not meet these expectations will find employees unwilling to engage with the tools provided.
In this blog post, we’ll explore 4 expectations of the digital workforce that HR must address in order to enable employee engagement.
Due to the internet, we have become accustomed to self-service – in essence, getting things done ourselves. Take, for example, the process of booking a vacation. 25 years ago, you had to call a travel agent to book a trip. It took time to get quotes, and there was little transparency into your options. Finally, the agent would book it for you and then mail you your tickets. Today, we go online and search for the exact flights we want. We have visibility into pricing so we can compare the costs of hotels and flights. We’re able to customize the best trip – and then book it without talking to a human.
This is one of many examples of tasks we complete online without interacting with another person. Think about the ubiquitous little magnifying glass search icon found on nearly every webpage on the internet. We are completely trained to search for whatever we need. So why should it be any different at work? It’s much simpler to do a quick search for HR information in an employee portal than to try to find the one HR person who knows the answer. And it saves HR professionals time spent answering repetitive, low-value questions.
It’s important to note that this is not just a millennial trend – anyone who is digitally savvy expects to be able to get what they need from software without having to pick up the phone and have a conversation. It saves employees time and ensures that responses from HR are consistent.
2. Mobile Access
According to Pew Research, nearly two-thirds of American adults (64%) now own a smartphone. We use our phones to do so much more than communicate. We manage our bank accounts and credit cards. We make restaurant reservations. We look up directions. We check the weather. We coordinate our health insurance. Almost anything we would once have done on a desktop computer can now be done on our smartphones.
Because of this, the digital workforce expects to be able to access company information on their phone. For HR to be truly effective, service must be available from a mobile device. It should be easy to search a knowledgebase or fill out a form from a phone or tablet. Without this mobile capability, users will abandon the tool and become disengaged.
3. Digital Documents
When was the last time you sent someone a handwritten letter? Not a holiday or birthday card, but an actual letter? Email has enabled us to communicate with immediacy and without physical paper. It used to be common to communicate via paper, but today we do it all online. We get electronic bills instead of paper bills, and we view our bank account statements online. When I got new renter’s insurance a few months ago, I filled out the entire form on the internet. Very little is done with actual paper anymore.
So when it comes to the workplace, why should there be paper files detailing our employment history? Users expect to be able to keep all of their files digitally, and to be able to access them on-demand. If paper files are kept for employees, it becomes difficult for employees to have visibility into their own information. For HR teams, it can be challenging to have the full view of the employee if the files aren’t managed digitally in one central location. It’s important to move to digital employee files, and to have a place where employee files are stored. These should be accessible at any time by individuals with the correct permissions in place.
Personalization is a major trend in technology today. We’ve moved beyond a generic web experience to tailoring the experience to a specific user. For example, Amazon recommends books it thinks you might like based on prior purchases. Netflix does the same. You are unlikely to be presented with irrelevant suggestions. Similarly, Google tailors searches based on things like search history and location. It’s able to provide localized results, just for you.
HR must use technology that allows some level of personalization. The digital workforce will not engage with a system that continually provides them with irrelevant information. It’s important to find a solution that presents relevant content based on employee attributes like job level, location, division, and so on. Employees expect HR content like policies and forms to be tailored to their needs and role; it’s essential that HR provide that type of personalized experience.
It’s clear that technology has driven employee expectations to unprecedented levels due to constant innovation and consumer-grade user experiences. For HR to boost employee engagement, they must provide the workforce with service that meets these expectations.
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About Nicole Lindenbaum
Nicole Lindenbaum is the Director of Product Marketing at PeopleDoc by Ultimate Software. Nicole leads the global messaging strategy for PeopleDoc by translating technology into business benefits HR can actually understand. With significant experience in HR technology, Nicole writes and speaks about HR service delivery, employee experience, digital transformation, and the future of work. Nicole holds a BFA from Syracuse University and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.