How to improve employee experience with technology
By Charong Chow
Today, employees expect their workplaces to offer them technology tools to help them get their jobs done. They also expect those tools to be as convenient and advanced as the tools they use in their personal lives.
This makes your suite of digital tools critical to your ability to attract, retain, and engage employees.
You probably already know your suite of digital tools impacts your employees’ ability to collaborate, communicate, and innovate. That’s why many organizations are planning to increase spending specifically on technology to support better workforce communications. Specifically, researchers forecast that companies will spend nearly $35 to $80 billion on digital workplace technologies in the next few years.
If you’re trying to optimize the employee experience via communications and technology, you might have already noticed a couple of key things. Number one, there are a lot of tools out there to choose from—and the number of offerings seems to grow every day. Number two, not every tool is right for your organization. Number three, the longer you wait to invest in the right tools, the less competitive your organization becomes in terms of attracting and retaining top talent.
If you find the technology landscape overwhelming, you’re not alone. And before you explore options of new tools to onboard, start in your own backyard first by assessing your current tools and evaluating the current effectiveness of your digital workplace.
The statements below are a good place to start; each statement describes the characteristics of a company that has invested in the right digital tools, aligned them successfully with business objectives and team workflows, and gotten the entire workforce to adopt and use those tools routinely. See how many of the statements you can use to describe your own organization.
“In general, our company leverages digital tools that help us …”
Eliminate (or vastly reduce) the number of mundane tasks employees must undertake
Increase in workplace efficiency and productivity
Achieve higher levels of employee engagement
Allow employees to be connected with leadership
Allow remote workers to be connected, engaged, and productive
Increase team agility and alignment thanks to digital workforce platforms and cloud-based offerings
Easily share and locate information across different devices (laptops, desktops, and mobile devices)
Retain most employees and easily recruit new employees
How tech improves the employee experience
The digital workplace is built around and tailored to the needs of employees. And there’s a reason digital tools are so employee-friendly; it’s because employee engagement is tied directly to revenue. Research by Gallup shows that teams that rank in the top quartile of employee engagement outperform bottom-quartile teams by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity.
The right digital tools can help you communicate and support your entire workforce, and many of today’s technology tools are designed to increase and enhance employee engagement. Currently, however, most companies are failing to leverage technology to support employees; research shows that 51% of employees are not engaged and a shocking 16% are actively not engaged. That means companies are losing out on the benefits of high employee engagement. As it turns out, leveraging tech tools that increase engagement can also increase employee happiness levels, productivity, and motivation. This makes sense; employees who are happy at work are also more engaged at work. If your employees are happy and engaged, they’re more likely to:
be highly productive
stay at your company longer
produce their best work
help you attain strategic company goals
Digital workplace best practices
To lead a digital change in your organization, focus on the unique needs of your workforce. Here are four best practices for leveraging technology to create a better employee experience.
Best Practice #1: Find out what your workforce wants from technology tools.
If you want to leverage technology to create happier employees, find out what employees want from their tools.
You can do that by gathering feedback, assessing challenges, and examining how (and how often) employees use your current technology tools. Do so by asking the following questions.
Are our employees overwhelmed by the number of technology tools they need to use to complete their jobs?
Are digital distractions in the office making it easier or more difficult for employees to focus?
Are our technology tools working in alignment, or are they siloed?
Do our tools work well with employee workflows?
Do our tools create productivity disruptions?
Does our organization have tools that address the different communication and collaboration needs (based on department, job function, and region) of employees?
The feedback you gather should include a diverse range of perspectives; that includes all levels of management and workers, as well as teams in different regions and departments. You want to find out which technology and processes they value most. Feedback could be given in the form of surveys or interviews. By getting a holistic view of your current workplace environment, you will be able to assess what challenges and barriers your employees face.
Best Practice #2: Get key stakeholders on board with your vision for technology adoption.
After you have gotten feedback from employees, it’s time to bring in stakeholders from individual business units and different departments.
Organizational change should be adopted and agreed upon by the entire workforce. People can be resistant to change, and if they don’t understand it, the initiatives could fail. That’s why internal communications is critical to your success.
By getting key managers and executives on board, you can make sure that everyone is motivated to participate in your digital transformations. Stakeholders can help lead successful transformations by encouraging their business units to adopt new tools. Once you have aligned your vision with your entire organization, it will be much easier to implement new technology.
Best Practice #3: Evaluate how technology contributes to communication in your organization.
Communication is a key area that can be enhanced by technology tools. In fact, communication is one of the biggest reasons organizations choose to invest in new technology tools.
Today, most companies must enable employees to work remotely or in the field; they must also empower part-time and freelance workers to work seamlessly with their existing teams. With this in mind, look for gaps where you lack tools that bridge the communications divide among teams. Gaps could include the growing need for a mobile app to reach remote workers, multilingual capabilities, or centralizing your internal communications. This will help you map solutions for your current tech needs.
To reach all workers on the device or communication channel they prefer, many organizations are turning to workforce communications platforms. Having a single digital platform allows you to use different channels to communicate with different groups of employees. By leveraging a single platform to publish messages and communications selectively across the entire workforce, you save your time and also prevent communications overload. You also give employees the chance to engage with the company on the channel they most prefer, which helps increase engagement. In this way, workforce communications platforms help employees stay focused on their jobs rather than on managing communications overload.
Best Practice #4: Identify metrics to help you define success and measure ROI.
Implementing new tech tools often represents a big investment of resources and time; so you need to measure your ROI.
Start by identifying metrics that will help you measure success; this will lend legitimacy to your strategy and give stakeholders a way to track your progress. This could include such elements as:
The number of employees who adopt new digital tools
The amount of time it takes for employees to adopt and start using digital tools
The number of employees who provide feedback about their happiness with digital tools
The quality of feedback about new digital tools
Any increase in employee productivity, engagement, or efficiency
Any increase in revenue (including time saved)
Conclusion: Invest In Your Digital Workplace
Today, a digital workplace is absolutely essential to increasing employee engagement, generating high levels of productivity, and keeping employees happy. Your employees expect their workplaces to offer the same kind of sophisticated technology they use and enjoy in their personal lives. And quality internal communications is at the center.
Having a positive digital workplace can lead to creating a better employee experience. This can help you decrease churn rate and align your organization around strategic business objectives.
More companies are investing in their digital workplace and leading transformations to drive business growth.
In order to build an amazing digital workplace, your strategy needs to take into account the needs and preferences of employees. If your technology doesn’t enhance how your employees work, it doesn’t matter how user-friendly that technology is.
Best practices for a successful digital transformation includes understanding the unique needs of various employees and stakeholders at your company. Align the entire enterprise with your change, by communicating effectively, to ensure successful rollouts and adoption. You will also need to identify gaps in your current tech stack and what you will tools you will need. Finally, identifying success metrics will help you show ROI to your organization.
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Lise Michaud is the only party authorized to represent, negotiate and accept any agreements, contracts, partnerships, or any other forms of association, lucrative or non-lucrative, on behalf of IC Kollectif and/or involving the IC Kollectif's brand.
Charong Chow Charong leads content strategy at SocialChorus. After film experiments, gallery shows, and a novel, she took the plunge into content marketing for tech startups. When Charong is not weaving narratives, she curates a small zoo that her two children have somehow managed to assemble.