How to Design the Employee Experience Part 6: Using Technology to Enhance the Employee Experience
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If you’ve been following this series, you might be surprised by the fact that I haven’t talked much about technology before now. That is not an accident.
One of the most common mistakes I see HR teams make is treating technology like a silver bullet solution to their problems. Before they even fully understand the issue they are trying to address, they are off shopping for a software solution. Technology is a tool, not a solution. And like any powerful tool, its impact is dependent on skillful application to the problem or need.
Recently, I bought something called an impact wrench. It’s a smaller, less powerful version of the tool they use to quickly remove the wheels from race cars. It’s a tool I was persuaded to buy to help take the blades off of my lawnmower.
This new wrench didn’t ultimately help me much because I was trying to turn the bolts in the wrong direction. I ended up breaking off one of the bolts. An expensive mistake to fix caused not by the tool, but by the fact I didn’t know what I was doing. A great tool applied incorrectly will not solve your problem.
Plan first, then find your tools
Before making any technology decisions, you need to first be clear about the kind of experience you are trying to create and why. That’s why this is part 6 of the series. If you’ve done the design work outlined in part 1 through 5, you should have the plan and insight needed to begin thinking about the application of technology.
We are fortunate to live in a time of incredible technology innovation. In fact, the number of software products can be overwhelming. As you consider which tools might be best for your organization, it is helpful to evaluate which of these three roles the technology can fill in creating your desired employee experience.
1. Enable: Make possible, facilitate
Technology can be the tool that takes an idea or aspiration and makes it a reality. The ability to work remotely was enabled by technology like laptop computers, wifi, and web conferencing. Before these tools, very few people worked remotely. Today, it is commonplace.
As you consider the employee experience you are wanting to create, where do you need tools to make it possible? For example, one employer I profiled for my book shared a story of how technology was critical for them. They needed to create a more flexible work experience for employees, but this was a complex task in environments like their call centers with an hourly, shift-based workforce. It required implementing a new scheduling software (and process) that allowed for greater transparency and shift trading between employees.
2. Liberate: Make easier, unlock opportunity
The second application of technology tools is to improve the experience by making things simpler and easier to accomplish. Think about this as streamlining the path and removing roadblocks.
For example, the phrase “new employee onboarding” has become synonymous in most places with “filling out mountains of paperwork.” Unless you are trying to create an employee experience defined by drudgery, using technology to reduce the paperwork and create more flexibility for when and how it’s done will create a most positive experience.
Technology can also make information easier to access for employees. When employees have important questions about anything related to their employment, they want answers the moment they go looking for them. In the Google-era, when those answers aren’t easy to find, it leads to frustration and lost productivity.
By using technology to liberate employees from these less than optimal experiences, you free up time for higher impact activities that are more positive and help unlock performance.
3. Evaluate: Collect feedback, make improvements
If you're going to go through the trouble of creating a great experience for your employees, you should measure the impact to ensure it’s working. Collecting and evaluating feedback is critical to ensuring that you are delivering an experience to employees that’s working.
Technology tools can allow for feedback to happen frequently for ongoing monitoring and adjustments over time. The use of regular pulse surveys is becoming common within organizations. This can be an effective way to sample your employee population as a way to evaluate if their experience is aligning with your intentions.
Regardless of how you use technology to collect feedback, remember the cardinal rule of feedback: always follow up. If you use pulse surveys, ensure that you are communicating back to employees frequently about what you are hearing and what actions are being taken as a result. A lack of follow up will lead to a lack of trust. Don’t let that happen.
Employee experience design represents a huge opportunity for HR. By using the design process of discover, define, develop and deliver, you can design and co-create an experience for your employees that will feel positive and affirming to them.
When we have a good experience as an employee, we unleash our best work. When work feels good to us, we give more and go farther. Engagement and performance improves. And, we aren’t shopping around for a better experience.
As I said at the end of part 1, designing employee experience isn’t fast or easy. But, if you care about creating an experience of work that is great both for employees and performance, it will be worth it.
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About Jason Lauritsen
Jason Lauritsen is a keynote speaker, author, and consultant. He is an employee engagement and workplace culture expert who will challenge you to think differently. A former corporate Human Resources executive, Jason has dedicated his career to helping leaders build organizations that are good for both people and profits. Most recently, he led the research team for Quantum Workplace’s Best Places to Work program where he has studied the employee experience at thousands of companies to understand what the best workplaces in the world do differently than the rest. Jason is the co-author of the book, Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships, and author of his new book, Unlocking High Performance, to be published by Kogan Page in October 2018.