Applying UX principles to EX: Enhancing the employee user experience
Samantha McLaren

By: Samantha McLaren on January 16th, 2020

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Applying UX principles to EX: Enhancing the employee user experience

Employee Experience  |  HR Operational Efficiency

Est. Read Time: 3 min.

When companies think about user experience (UX), it’s almost always in the context of the customer. How is the customer interacting with the website’s interface? Are they able to navigate it easily? Are they finding the support resources they need? But as organizations dedicate more time and energy to improving the employee experience (EX), they’ll also have to broaden their understanding of UX—optimizing the employee user experience across their internal systems. 


When it’s time to maintain, upgrade, or replace your business’s HR software, here are some tips to help you improve the employee user experience—and boost your overall EX.


Recognize the benefit to your business

Whether you’re approaching UX from a customer experience or employee experience standpoint, the same fundamental principles apply. One of the most common misconceptions about UX design is that it revolves around creating a great product, when it’s actually about creating a great user. Good UX enables the user to work as quickly, efficiently, and seamlessly as possible—leading to more productive, less frustrated employees. 


Thoughtfully designed UX can also empower employees by equipping them with the tools to do new things—and to accomplish things they weren’t able to before. As such, the return on investment from these improvements can be high, both in terms of increased satisfaction and greater business performance. 


Listen to what employees want and need from your tech

Above all else, employees want an intuitive experience when they access your software. Focus on being consistent, responsive, and helpful in your UX design, and the rest will fall into place. 


It’s also important to choose software that closely reflects the technology that your employees are using in their personal lives. Keep in mind that as personal technology grows more advanced, employees will have higher expectations for their HR software, too. Opening up a dialogue with your employees, listening to their feedback, and gaining a deeper understanding of the obstacles they face in their day-to-day work is essential—both before implementing any new tech and on an ongoing basis.


button to read user experience principles for HR


Prioritize accessibility in UX design

Inclusive UX design is necessary for any business trying to reach a wide range of users—and it’s crucial for promoting diversity and inclusion in the workforce. 


Before rolling out any software changes or upgrades, ask yourself whether it’s compatible with any assistive technologies that an employee may need to use, like a screen reader. If a solution doesn’t work for every employee, it can seriously impact their ability to do their job. Remember that accessibility issues don’t just affect users with permanent disabilities, such as employees who are blind or deaf. There are many temporary and situational conditions that can impact an employee’s ability to interact with your systems, so making your software more accessible ultimately benefits everyone. 


Give employees an opportunity to provide feedback about your existing software, and let them test any new tech before you roll it out. User tests are an effective way to pinpoint frustrations and obstacles, allowing you to implement new tools with the knowledge that they're understandable, accessible, and easy to use. Just be sure to make it clear to your employees that you’re testing the software—not their abilities or their knowledge. 


Choose vendors that invest in employee user experience

One of the best ways to ensure that your software solutions align with your HR objectives is to choose a vendor that invests in improving EX. As you weigh up the pros and cons of a vendor, some good questions to ask are: 

  • Does this vendor have a program of continuous improvement?
  • Does it seek feedback from my employees and other users?
  • Does it have a program for making sure that its solutions work for people with disabilities?


If the answer to any of these questions is no, that may be a red flag.


No matter how much energy and resources you put into improving the employee user experience, there will always be times when your employees need assistance with their software. Ensuring that your vendors offer support in these moments, either through documentation, online support services, or telecommunications, is key. 


Elevating your employee user experience can be a big undertaking, but choosing vendors that share your objectives can help to smooth the transition. To gain an even deeper understanding of the process—and to hear from Nicole Harris, our own head of UX—check out our Digital Employee Experience micro-course

access free digital employee experience online course
access free digital employee experience online course

About Samantha McLaren

Scottish-born Samantha McLaren is a copywriter and editor with a specialty for the recruiting and HR space. She has written dozens of articles on topics ranging from employee retention and engagement to employer branding, company culture, and management strategies.