Over the last decade, the HR function focused on delivering on the maxim ‘employee experience is equal to customer experience’ - that meant working towards a seamless employee experience across the employee lifecycle that was digitally enabled and intuitive, which gave employees the experience that they had as customers outside the workplace. But this year, that was not enough.
As employees worked from home, new workplace requirements and new challenges changed how companies need to think about delivering on the promise of a great employee experience. While some companies focused on added perks including investments in desks, and supporting technology infrastructure, still others ramped up their investments in creating resources that support mental health initiatives.
The question in front of the HR function is this: How will employee experience change in a hybrid world of work? The answer to that question will need to account for some permanent workplace shifts including: 1) The combination of virtual and physical work, 2) Flexibility in work and timings 3) The role of enabling technology to support initiatives.
“There are many facets of the organization that will be visible when companies are able to examine data on collaboration,” said Nishanth Satheesan, Workplace Analytics Lead, Asia, Microsoft addressing a masterclass on beginning workplace analytics. “Using the Workplace Analytics platform, one can analyse collaboration habits just by understanding data on email flow, chat volume etc., which can give employers a clear idea of how work gets done – and it can directly impact areas of inefficiencies, information silos in the organization, diversity and inclusion and so much more.”
Here are some ways the HR function can rethink about the employee experience.
1) Align people behaviour and ‘moments of truth’ with technology
Many companies have already embarked on a digital transformation journey. But as work continues to evolve, there’s a need to take a data-driven approach to reimagine employee experience. At Microsoft, the company is focused on engaging and empowering employees to provide an environment that truly inspires them. Leveraging latest technologies like Microsoft Teams can not only provide employees with an innovative and immersive experience, it is also supported by network services that operate smoothly and efficiently.
When thinking about the role of technology, HR professionals should assess the enablement of seamless teamwork (including leadership and community engagement, empowered self-service collaboration and productive and aligned teams). They should also review how well employees are digitally assisted in their workday, whereby they can easily access information that is integrated and contextually relevant.
“Most technology systems are just reporting systems, but with Workplace Analytics, we’re trying to understand people behaviour. Accessing behavioural data needs to be mapped to business outcomes and it needs to be correlated to each other and that can be fostered with the help of analytics,” Nishanth said.
2) Hyper personalizing end-to-end experience
What the pandemic showed very clearly is that different employees have different challenges while working remotely. As some employees struggled with managing work-life priorities, still others struggled with managing their work-day. And while some struggled with mental health concerns, others felt disconnected due to digital fatigue.
There is no magic bullet to address varied concerns that affect the workplace. Today’s employees want to be heard and companies need to review their employee journey to understand whether they are collecting personalized data and analysing it with a view of empowering employees and communities. They should also define and measure targeted metrics that reflect an employee’s well-being.
Platforms like Workplace Analytics can help focus managers' attention – right from working hours, department outlook etc., which are then mapped to organizational outcomes including enhancement of organizational resiliency, boosting employee engagement, improving agility, fostering innovation.
3) Engage in continuous evaluation of experience/ pulse
While there are multiple technologies that can capture the real-time pulse of the organizations administered through surveys, text analytics, and other modern employee listening tools, there’s a need to route the feedback to action quickly as well.
“How can you make engagement surveys more actionable? That’s a question in front of many HR professionals. By understanding the collaboration habits of disengaged employees, one can outline actionable steps by leveraging the Workplace Analytics platform which is part of Office 365,” Nishanth said.
Josh Bersin proposed a three step process to review experience continuously. 1) Decide on the signals to collect 2) Determine what to target and 3) Create various response teams throughout the organization.
Research shows that people who engage in face-to-face interactions are much less lonely, and have meaningful social experiences, good physical and mental health. Despite leveraging sophisticated technology, there’s a need to create human touch points that will ultimately push workplace experience to the next level. In a hybrid world of work, there’s a need to consciously think about enabling human connection.
4) Integrating well-being into workflow
As critical as customer satisfaction is to organizations, the need to ensure employee satisfaction is equally important. As health concerns extend beyond the obvious COVID scare, it is becoming increasingly important to design workflows and processes in a manner that supports employee well-being, keeping avoidable stressors at bay.
Microsoft’s Chief People Officer and EVP of HR, Kathleen Hogan, emphasized the urgency to focus on employee well-being in a recent blog, “As COVID-19 continues to upend our lives, it’s never been more vital to understand how we can empower employees to prioritize well-being—both at work and at home.” Be it by curating tools that prompt the need for a break from screens, encouraging employees to turn videos off during connects to avoid video anxiety as well reduce strain on eyes, connecting for 15min of physical workout from the comfort of employees’ homes, or even having a proactive team leading the agenda on wellness as employees focus on their individual deliverables. Integrating well-being is surely a cornerstone to sustain not just employee performance but also organizational growth.
Listen to the conversations on how to reimagine work here.