Given that we spend nearly one-third of our lives working or about 25 years, our ‘experience’ at work should be the highest priority. Yet so often we focus on raw productivity, hitting KPIs, and profitability. Employees’ experience at work can be easily overlooked as we expect people to show up and simply do their job. Now, with the experience generation, millennials, making up 35% of the workforce it’s no surprise the conversation has shifted and the spotlight turns to experience platforms. So, what is an employee experience platform?
Defining an employee experience platform
Before diving into what makes an ideal employee experience platform and why HR and leaders should invest in it, let’s define the term by breaking it down into two concepts.
What is employee experience?
Josh Bersin gives us a comprehensive but simple definition of employee experience:
a company-wide initiative to help employees stay productive, healthy, engaged, and on track.
The employee experience encompasses the entire employee journey, from onboarding to off-boarding and every touchpoint in between. It’s holistic, focusing on all aspects of employees’ day-to-day, from helping get work done to ensuring physical and mental wellbeing. Experience is a ‘company-wide initiative’ meaning the task shouldn’t fall to one person or department, everyone has a part to play.
What makes up a platform?
In this context, when we refer to a ‘platform’ it means the grouping of technology. It combines several tools into one space.
So now that we have a better understanding offer these two terms, what is an employee experience platform?
Josh Bersin says :
it’s all about delivering an easy-to-use platform of tools that makes work productive.
However, we take a more all-encompassing view.
Our understanding is that an employee experience platform is a space that combines engagement, wellbeing, productivity, collaboration, and communication tools that’s accessible, unified, and easy to use. It is designed for employees, to meet all their needs and goes beyond productivity to offer a multitude of benefits.
Why invest in a digital employee experience platform?
With employees spending so much time at work, and a growing awareness of the physical and mental challenges that involves, employee experience is no longer a ‘nice to have’.
Pre-pandemic, HR and leaders started to design physical workplaces with nap pods, table tennis, gyms, and unlimited snacks. These perks were designed to create a fun office that people wanted to go to. Now health and safety requirements mean fewer people in the office, fewer interactions, and a mass move to remote work.
The virtual workspace is where people spend their day so it’s no surprise that 42% of HR leaders in 2020 said improving the employee experience was a top priority influencing technology decisions.
Benefits of designing a workspace for employee needs
Highly engaged employees make up only about 13% of workers, yet they offer 17% higher productivity, are less likely to leave, make fewer mistakes, foster better team morale, and can become effective brand ambassadors. Engagement comes from feeling connected to a company, and connection is built through interactions, collaboration, and culture. So an employee experience platform can help boost employee engagement by bringing people together.
In the move to remote work, HR and leaders fear a loss of company culture. When teams are distributed and people work from different locations creating a unified culture can seem like a daunting task. However, by giving employees a common virtual workspace like an employee experience platform, company culture can be built, maintained, or reimagined.
In fact, providing people with the right tools and resources empowers them. Creating an open platform overcomes hierarchical barriers. Today’s employee experience platforms can be used to design a better, more inclusive culture.
Employees who have positive experiences at work are three times less likely to consider leaving their role. Considering that recruiting, training, and onboarding new employees is expensive, investing in positive experiences that encourage staff to stay is very worthwhile.
Productivity is hindered when people have to spend time switching between applications, searching for information, or completing repetitive tasks that could be automized. Employees switch between apps more than 1,100 times a day. It’s easy to see how much time is wasted without realizing it. An employee experience platform easily solves this problem by grouping the tools employees need into one platform.
Employees spend around 40 hours a week at work. This doesn’t account for the fact that in countries like France, the UK, and the US employees are working up to two hours more a day while remote. Long days in the office, or at home can be tough and if employees aren’t supported it can lead to stress, burn-out, and high employee turnover. An employee experience platform offers a softer side to employee needs, supporting mental and digital wellbeing. For example, taking a virtual coffee with colleagues offers a break from work, social interaction, and a chance to talk and share.
How to design an experience platform employees will love?
Now that we understand the benefits of a positive employee experience, how can you create a platform that meets the needs of your employees?
Implementing an employee experience platform can be overwhelming, but ultimately it’s designed to simplify work life. Here are a few essentials you want from your platform.
Unified & simple
Employees need a unified platform that offers a single point of access to all their tools and applications. Every department has multiple apps they use daily, HR has anywhere from 11 to 22, and one tool can’t replace everything. So, an EXP isn’t designed to ‘’do it all’’ but to ‘’gather it all. The idea is to create more user-focused technology and to unify tools to simplify employees’ jobs.
At the same time, to avoid silos, company’s need common spaces for all departments. Having one place to manage all interactions, that’s visible, accessible, and inclusive unifies people.
Your EXP needs to integrate a communication space, a collaboration tool, and allow each department access to their unique applications. These should be stored in a single platform, to save time spent switching between apps.
Collective intelligence simply refers to the knowledge of everyone in your organization. More and more employers are realizing that employees are powerhouses of information and a heavily underused resource. So an employee experience platform should offer a way to gather this knowledge and simplify knowledge sharing.
Collecting and sharing knowledge can happen in multiple ways and different spaces. The traditional company intranet is one. An intranet is a great place to store reference documents, that employees need to access often. For example a company’s annual leave policy, general rules for the office space, and health and safety regulations. These are documents that can be communicated from the top down and don’t require daily collaboration.
An employee experience platform should facilitate and try to improve every interaction an employee has with a company, starting with their onboarding. The right EXP will simplify employee onboarding, by automating tasks for HR, providing new hires with the information they need from day one, and creating a collaboration space for newcomers to interact with their team.
With up to 25% of new staff leaving in the first 6 months, creating a good impression quickly is crucial.
AN EXP should be designed to improve the full employee journey and their day-to-day work. From easily logging on in the morning, searching for information, collaborating with colleagues, having an informal chat, consulting an HR document, monitoring KPIs and so much more, employees need their EXP to handle a lot.
Social & collaborative
Teamwork and collaboration are key to success and people need to be able to work together easily on collective tasks. Microsoft Teams is one tool that has exploded in use recently and integrating this familiar tool into the EXP will speed up adoption. It can be enhanced further when your platform offers templates for collaboration, better governance, and automation to simplify repetitive tasks.
Beyond collaboration on work projects, a crucial part of the employee experience is social interactions. Casual catch-ups are increasingly important as people work remotely, and they should be facilitated in your employee platform.
Flexible & inclusive
The modern workplace is flexible, hybrid work is the norm, and employees are routinely split between home and the office. So an EXP should be accessible on mobile, from a browser, or in an app, allowing people to be productive and engaged from anywhere. Everyone from field workers, to remote or in-office employees, should be able to access the employee experience platform.
To be inclusive and to ensure every employee can take full advantage of the platform, the EXP should also be easy to use regardless of people’s digital dexterity.
Why can employee experience initiatives fall short?
Lack of training and preparation, poor user experience, and resilience to change is detrimental to the quick adoption of HR technology. However, next-generation employee experience platforms are designed to simplify and enhance user experience and many, like Powell Software’s digital workplace, offer gamification features to gain quick and lasting buy-in.
Ultimately, ensuring your employee experience platform succeeds relies on having the right software provider who understands employee needs.
Powell Software is a leading employee experience platform and digital workplace, that incorporates a communication space, Powell Intranet, and a collaboration tool, Powell Teams. Both are bridged with one accessible from the other, as an EXP should be. We combine engagement, wellbeing, and productivity features in a space that’s accessible, unified, and simple.
Start creating the best experience for your employees. Talk to our team and discover how Powell Software can help your team be at its best.