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What is digital employee experience? It
Jolene Nicotina

By: Jolene Nicotina on September 12th, 2019

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What is digital employee experience? It's likely not what you think

Employee Experience

Est. Read Time: 3 min.

When you hear the term “digital employee experience” your mind likely conjures an image of an employee curled up on her couch, computer propped up on her lap. That would be only partially accurate, because the digital employee experience applies to all employees, not just remote workers. 

 

The digital employee experience is a part of the overall employee experience that hones in on all the tools, portals and systems an employee interacts with throughout their journey at an organization—from recruitment to retirement. Because almost every employee interacts with technology daily, it’s a part of the employee experience companies can’t afford to ignore.

 

Understanding employee experience

To really understand digital employee experience, let’s revisit the concept of employee experience. Employee experience is often associated with perks and benefits. Companies that provide free meals and unlimited PTO are often thought to have a great employee experience. But while perks and benefits contribute to the overall employee experience, they’re not experiences on their own. 

 

Experiences are encounters employees have at work that leave the employee with some kind of feeling or overall mood—happy, stressed, confused, etc. Think onboarding, one-on-one meetings with managers, requesting medical leave, and even completing day-to-day job duties. These experiences and their associated feelings combine to determine the sentiment an employee has toward their company.

 

The role of digital in employee experience

Mid-section of a man using laptop in cafeteriaWhere does digital come in? Whether it’s applying to a company, transferring locations, or submitting an expense report, all experiences result in some kind of process. Without any technology, those processes are manual, paper-heavy and time-consuming. Translation: not a good experience for the employee (or HR). 

 

But even when companies do use technology to streamline these processes, that doesn’t always mean the experience is better. If a process still requires employees to complete multiple forms or interact with several different HR reps, it’s a bad experience— digital or not. Solving for the digital employee experience means assessing employee encounters as they exist today, determining what the ideal experience should be, then applying technology to fill the gap.

 

The digital employee experience also considers the technology itself. A negative experience results when systems are slow, confusing to use, or disconnected from other workplace tools. This is where an understanding of user experience design can really aid HR leaders in choosing technology that employees willingly engage with rather than actively avoid.

 

The importance of the digital employee experience

Of course, digital isn’t everything. According to Jacob Morgan, EX is a combination of a company’s culture, the physical space employees occupy, and the technology they use. Culture counts for 40% of the mix while physical space and technology each compose 30%. 

 

While technology isn't the biggest piece of the pie, it could be considered the most fast-acting. Corporate culture can take years to build and requires ongoing cultivation. Attractive, ergonomic workspaces can also take years to complete. But new technology systems can be deployed relatively quickly, sometimes in as few as 6-8 weeks, and the effects are immediately felt. Consider the story of Biogen, a global biotechnology company headquartered just outside Cambridge, MA. 

 

Button to register for digital employee experience week 2019

 

Biogen’s HR department was struggling to manage employee files because they were all paper-based. This made HR’s job repetitive and admin-heavy as each time an employee needed something, HR had to trudge through stacks of paper. But once Biogen implemented new technology, the experience was immediately improved. According to Elizabeth Abbott, Biogen’s Operations Leader and Chief of Staff, “The difference between having a stack of papers one day and everything digitally accessible the next day was quite remarkable. [It resulted in] reduced administrative burden right away.”

 

Closing the gap between real life and work life

Improving the digital EX comes down to closing the gap between how employees get things done in their personal life and how they get things done at work. Think about the expediency of Google. If an employee doesn’t have to wait for information they need at home, why should they have to wait at work? If purchasing new glasses can be done in minutes, why can't receiving a verification of employment (VOE) letter be just as fast?

 

At a time when the workplace is growing increasingly digital and the unemployment rate is at a record low, thinking about the digital EX is no longer a luxury reserved for the Amazons and Googles of the world. 


Dive into the nuances of improving the digital EX in PeopleDoc’s free 5-day video course. You’ll receive one 10-minute video lesson a day with actionable tips by industry thought leaders Jacob Morgan, Jason Lauritsen, Ben Eubanks, and more. Register here.

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About Jolene Nicotina

Jolene Nicotina is the Content Marketing Manager for North America at PeopleDoc, Inc. She works on making sure HR professionals have all the latest information they need related to HR service delivery, HR technology, and PeopleDoc, Inc. Prior to PeopleDoc, Jolene worked in marketing communications for the healthcare technology industry.