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Matthew Sturman

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Employee experience: is your HR tech stack up to the job?

There's a likely chance your HR tech stack is holding you back from delivering the experience your employees expect.

There’s no doubt about it – the pandemic has triggered an employee experience revolution. Indeed, 15 months ago, the customer experience was at the heart of decision-making, but as organisations across the globe were ordered to work remotely, a monumental shift happened.  

If you’re going to put employee experience truly at the heart of your business, you need to understand the intricacies and potential blockers to their experiences

Without physical contact and presence in an office environment, maintaining employee engagement and productivity became a pressing priority for HR leaders. Businesses scrambled to roll out new technologies or make use of previously underused solutions that would give their employees the tools to carry out their day-to-day duties, communicate and collaborate digitally. The HR technology stack hadn’t been designed for this level of disruption and faced rapid change as a result.

These tools enabled businesses to survive some of the most challenging months we’ve ever experienced economically. The introduction of hybrid working led to a shift in expectations when it comes to the employee experience and the HR systems that support this. The resulting proliferation of business applications and technologies, however, is in many cases compromising the employee experience. The challenge now is to provide a consumer-grade experience that employees are coming to expect – similar to the interactions they have with brands and businesses in their personal lives.  

Applications affecting the flow of work

People are at the heart of everything an organisation does, and for HR leaders their experience is crucial to the overall success of the business. With the number of disparate digital tools and applications increasing across enterprises, however, this is affecting a user’s ability to stay in the flow of work.

In what way, you ask? To understand, we need to look at the average IT estate and portfolios of business applications across organisations. According to Okta, the average large organisation now uses over 100 employee applications. From a HR perspective, the average number of HR systems increased from eight to 11 over the last five years, creating an even more complex environment for employees.

This growing number of applications can have a huge impact on productivity and efficiency, especially when you consider the time they spend switching between these applications. Research from Pegasystems found the average employee switches between their business applications over 1,000 times a day. This time lost increases when the support experiences across these applications remain disjointed and inconsistent.

Paths to access knowledge or support can be complex to navigate, differing from app to app. An employee may switch between chatbots, support desks, knowledge bases and resource hubs to find support, with different silos of tools existing in pockets across an organisation. This often leads to users becoming frustrated with the applications they’re using, feeling less productive and impacts on their overall wellbeing. So, what can businesses and HR leaders do to get to grips with the employee experience revolution?

Create a holistic employee experience stack

Earlier this year analyst firm, Constellation Research published a report that explored the present situation of widespread remote working and the proliferation of new applications. In this, the firm highlighted how the employee experience has become disjointed over the years, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

It proposed a number of disruptive technologies that could be the silver bullet and key to transforming the employee experience and creating a more cohesive digital workplace. Digital adoption platforms (DAPs) were just one of the technologies which could do this. A DAP provides an over-lay of support on top of business applications that supports users as they complete tasks. This ensures the employee has seamless access to knowledge, communications and step-by-step guidance, with support provided proactively before a user has even requested it. This improves experience in moments that matter, including onboarding, job changes and relocation, to name a few. By providing this type of automated support more employees are empowered to self-serve and save time by easily finding the information required to get the job done.

Analyse every insight and data point

If you’re going to put employee experience truly at the heart of your business, you need to understand the intricacies and potential blockers to their experiences. In the process of deploying countless applications, businesses will have created a range of data points that can be harnessed to shed light on the employee experience.

This is easier said than done though, especially when applications and their support experiences are disjointed, which is another key way a DAP can help organisations – allowing them to get the most out of their software.

Insights can include how users are engaging with tasks, content and support, as well as the process bottlenecks that impact employees. Insights should be reviewed consistently and used to optimise experiences. Taking an outcome driven approach keeps a laser focus on the metrics that matter, keeping an organisation aligned to its priorities.

Track insights against KPIs

Setting out clear KPIs that can help you track the evolution of the employee experience will be absolutely crucial. This means identifying the objectives for user experience and measurements that clearly signpost progress or failure, allowing businesses to stay focused on metrics that could impact their business – either positively or negatively.

Tracking these insights against KPIs allows organisations to continuously improve the employee experience, remove digital distraction, and boost the productivity and the value of their technology.

The ideal end-state

For HR leaders, the ultimate goal as we emerge from the pandemic into a world of hybrid working must be to ensure the employee experience remains at the centre of everything their organisation does. Key to meeting this objective will be maximising the effectiveness of the HR technology stack, measuring and optimising the full employee lifecycle, from hire to retire.

Interested in this topic? Read How to nurture the employee experience through continuous change.


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