Designing an Employee Experience Strategy for the Digital Workplace

by Esther Daga

Employee experience (EX) is a term that has long been used to describe how satisfied employees are with their day-to-day lives at work. But with remote working trends on the rise, there’s a new topic being discussed: digital employee experience (DEX). As more companies go virtual, adapting employee experience strategies for the digital workplace can make the difference between success and failure as an organization.

What is the digital employee experience?

According to HR Technologist, employee experience can be defined as “the cumulative impact of employee interactions with the organization across their entire professional journey from onboarding and training to upskilling, promotions, and offboarding”. A good digital workplace employee experience definition, then, simply takes these interactions and examines them through the lens of the digital tools employees interact with at work every day. The digital employee experience might include the online application process for prospective employees, the specific programs that are part of their workflow, and the corporate intranet that houses them.

A study by the Harvard Business Review identifies three key environments in which the employee experience take place:

  • Cultural
  • Physical
  • Technological

All three of these environments are equally important in creating a positive employee experience. And despite what you might think, the digital employee experience affects each of them – not just the technological environment. With the explosion of remote working in 2020, this has become especially true. The lines drawn around the digital workplace have never been more blurred. Technology is no longer its own aspect of employee experience but is instead deeply integrated into every step of the process.

Why digital workplace employee experience matters

If your organization is struggling in areas such as digital transformation and employee engagement, the missing puzzle piece could be an employee experience strategy. CIO Magazine calls it “the digital transformation linchpin”, citing data that links a better employee experience to more successful digital adaptation. As we’ve discussed before, digital transformation is an entirely human-centric process; any digital initiative that fails to prioritize employee experience is likely to end with poor adoption.

The link between employee experience and employee engagement should also be clear, yet the Harvard Business Review study found that only 6% of companies invest in all three of the employee experience environments. Yet the ones that do have overall higher profitability, better productivity, and happier employees. They’re also 28 times as likely to make the Fast Company Most Innovative Companies list and 11.5 times more likely to be included in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work.

EN - Whitepaper : Employee Engagement

3 benefits of creating a digital employee experience strategy

Employee experience is an important tool that helps drive internal initiatives like digital transformation and engagement, but the benefits don’t end there. Companies with a comprehensive digital employee experience strategy also see significant improvement in their customer experience, productivity, and financial performance.

1. Better customer experience

Countless studies have shown a correlation between employee experience and customer experience. In fact, companies known for good customer experience have 1.5 times the number of engaged employees than those with poor customer experience. The concept is quite simple: happier employees provide a better experience to the customers they interact with, both directly and indirectly.

2. Improved productivity

Productivity is influenced by many factors in a business, but one of the most significant is employee experience. Deloitte reports that employees of companies with good employee experience ratings are 22% more engaged and four times more likely to stay in their jobs. Both are key statistics often used to measure and track productivity.

3. Higher profitability

The numbers also show that companies with a digital employee experience strategy perform significantly better financially. According to a Forbes report, companies that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than their competitors that don’t. A similar analysis by Fortune found that the companies on its 100 Best Companies to Work For list had annual returns of 11.7%, more than one and a half times the market average of 6.7%. This is likely due to a combination of factors, including better customer experience and improved productivity.

5 ways to improve the employee experience through the digital workplace

Companies that wish to implement an employee experience strategy now have a great tool at their disposal: the employee experience platform and the digital workplace. Although digital tools can detract from employee experience if not implemented correctly, when used effectively they have the potential to take it to an entirely new level. Here are a few ways to leverage your digital tools to improve employee experience:

1. Ask the right questions

As a human-centric approach, coming up with the right employee experience strategy requires asking a few questions about your workers. Deloitte’s case study on Australia Post found that there are three key questions to answer when creating a digital employee experience strategy:

  • What do employees require to effectively connect to the company?
  • What must the company enable for employees to feel empowered and motivated to continually evolve and innovate how they do their work?
  • What do employees expect to be able to do for themselves in managing both work and personal administrative obligations?

Keep in mind that there might not be one single answer that encompasses all employees. You may find it useful to create a set of employee profiles to represent the different types of workers in your organization. For example, it could be helpful to come up with separate personas for those with high digital dexterity and those who are more technologically challenged to ensure both types of employees’ needs are met.

2. Choose technology wisely

Each new technology you introduce creates a company-wide challenge as employees adapt to the change. This usually pays off – as long as the technology is useful, necessary, and serves a purpose. But some companies fall into the trap of adding too many new technologies simply for the sake of being innovative. This can create confusion and frustration as employees struggle to stay on top of the necessary digital skills and become weighed down with additional steps in their workflow.

A lightweight but efficient digital workplace is best; you’ll need to find a balance between empowering employees to do their job efficiently and keeping the number of different technologies to a minimum. One way to do this is with a customizable employee portal that allows you to create personalized layouts for different teams. Employees have all the tools they need in one place and can easily find what they need, when they need it.

3. Transform incrementally

Executing change quickly and effectively is essential for companies that want to stay on top of digital transformation. But there’s also danger in trying to transform too quickly. With a human-centric approach, shifting mindset and culture is the first step to digital transformation. This doesn’t happen overnight. Trying to rush things can lead to digital culture shock, which will devastate employee experience in a way that is hard to come back from.

So how do you balance efficient transformation with preserving the digital employee experience? PwC advises leaders to break larger transformation down into smaller bites. This can be achieved by “creating small task forces with specific, ambitious, time-bounded goals” and “detaching them from the larger organization”. Above all, innovation should be employee led and grassroots driven.

4. Manage governance

Governance is a crucial part of maintaining a positive digital employee experience by keeping systems and tools organized. As time goes on and your organization grows, the information stored in your digital workplace needs to be carefully managed or employees may have a hard time locating what they need. Establishing governance policies early on will help prevent the frustration and wasted time caused by inefficient systems.

5. Retain control over employee experience

Today’s digital workplace is essentially a virtual representation of your company’s physical office space. The problem is that many technological solutions provide little to no control over day-to-day user experience, instead leaving this in the hands of a third-party software provider. At the same time, any employee experience issues will ultimately fall back on the company as the responsible party in implementing the technology.

This is why it’s more important than ever to choose a digital workplace that gives you full control over aspects like branding and customization. The Powell Intranet in a box does all this without any complex setup or coding necessary. Simply drag and drop the features you want, choose your design, and you’ll be ready to implement your new digital workplace.

EN - Whitepaper : Employee Engagement

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive the latest information about the Digital Workplace every month.