Employee Experience: Not So Different From Customer Experience
by Nicole Lindenbaum October 27 2016
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I recently had the opportunity to attend Gartner’s Digital Workplace Summit in London. While the event was not specific to HR, almost every single session mentioned “employee experience” at some point. It was encouraging to hear so many people with different roles and points of view all focused on the importance of the employee experience.
In a digital workplace, employees are provided with consumerized tools, which helps to boost employee engagement. The employee experience can be a way to guide leaders as they develop these digital workplace initiatives. With a positive employee experience as the end-goal, it becomes easier to make choices about technology and tools.
Lessons from Customer Experience
I find lessons from customer experience really helpful when trying to understand employee experience. (One of the analysts at the conference even mentioned that the idea of experience comes from the customer world.) Of course, there are differences between these audiences and the organization’s goals with each, which must be taken into account. But it can be helpful for HR to take lessons from those who have already undergone these types of initiatives.
When you think of why leading consumer technology has succeeded, the customer experience almost always plays a part. We choose to use Amazon because of its personalization. We like Google for its speed, ease-of-use, and accuracy. We use Uber because it takes a complicated experience and makes it simple. The ways that we interact with these technologies has been optimized to provide the best customer experience.
Now, think of your organization’s customers. Would they put up with outdated, frustrating technology? How much pain would they suffer through in order to complete a transaction with you? I’m guessing not much. So why would it be different for your employees?
How to Improve Employee Experience
During the recession, employer power increased as job supply decreased. Employees would stay in almost any job, feeling lucky to have a paycheck. Today, that’s simply not the case. The war for talent is heated and employees are in demand. Workers have options, and there is no reason to stay if they have a negative experience. Organizations must provide employees with tools that meet the expectations of the digital workforce, or employees will simply move on.
When you look at the gap between your internal tools and the great consumer technology available today, it can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be fixed all at once. There are ways to chip away at the gap, step by step.
First, think of all the ways an employee interacts with HR today. I suggest writing these down, and then start to ask yourself questions. Are there processes that can be streamlined? Are there manual tasks that could be digital instead? How can you make it easier for employees in different locations to get in touch with HR? What tools do you have that don’t currently meet consumer technology expectations? Have you personalized the experience for your employees?
Next, think of what your HR team needs to get the job done. Are there routine manual processes that could be automated? Are there slow, painful systems that frustrate your team? How do they get the right information to employees? How do they optimize their time? What can you do that would increase your team’s employee satisfaction?
This type of exercise helps identify the low-hanging fruit – areas where you can quickly make a change that will have a positive impact. It will also help you map out where you are today, where you want to be, and what types of tools you will need to bridge that gap.
The Benefits of a Positive Employee Experience
As you begin the shift to consider your service delivery in the context of employee experience, it can feel overwhelming when you see how far you have to go. But the benefits are staggering. First, your own HR organization will be more effective and efficient. Also important to consider, as we’ve recently discussed, employee experience drives employee engagement. And beyond improved retention, research has shown that engaged employees positively impact the customer experience. So if your organization is focused on providing a great customer experience, the best place to start could very well be with your own employees.
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.