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What is employee experience?

Employee experience is basically everything an employee encounters at a company – from their initial job search to their last day of work and beyond.  Traditional HR practices have transformed from human capital management (HCM) to human experience management (HXM).

 

In what’s been referred to as the Great Resignation, millions of workers have begun quitting their jobs. A recent survey from McKinsey reports that in the U.S. alone, the “voluntary quit rate” is 25% higher than it was before the pandemic. Some don’t feel there are opportunities for growth at their companies, others aren’t interested in jobs that don’t offer remote or hybrid work options, and still others are simply burnt out. Employees are re-evaluating work/life balance and what they need from their employers. To attract and retain top talent, companies will need to go undergo a re-evaluation process of their own, to better attune themselves to individual employee needs and expectations.

Why is employee experience so important today?

In today’s economy, businesses are facing heightened risk and increasingly complex customer and market demands. To succeed, companies need to seize upon every competitive edge – and to do that, they need the best people.  

 

Well-designed employee experience strategies lead to more engaged employees, and engaged employees lead to a more productive, profitable company. Conversely, not prioritizing the employee experience has very real downsides including decreased employee retention rates. Apart from the destabilizing effect of high turnover, there are enormous costs associated with recruiting, onboarding, and training new hires.   

 

Furthermore, with the current prevalence of employer review sites like Glassdoor, and the power of social media to influence opinion, dissatisfied employees can spread their views about your company much farther and wider today than they once could have done.

Physical, cultural, and digital employee experiences: The hybrid revolution

The physical and cultural components of an employee’s experience have traditionally been major considerations for companies that dealt with a largely on-premise workforce. Companies that offered a comfortable and ergonomic workspace – as well as a culture of collaboration, respect, and camaraderie – tended to do well in terms of recruitment and retention.  However, in 2020 researchers estimate over half a billion of the world’s citizens started working from home, almost overnight. 

 

This led to an equally sudden need to ramp up digital solutions to support the needs of remote workers. And today, digital employee experience (DEX) is taking up much more real estate in the HR landscape. DEX is comprised of a broad set of tools that help employees work, collaborate, learn, and communicate. This is in addition to core HR services such as payroll and performance management apps and tools. Securing positive physical and cultural experiences is still a vital business and HR priority but DEX has emerged as an essential component to any HR strategy.

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Stages of the employee journey

From the time they start their job search, through the various phases of career development and long after they retire, employees go through various recognisable stages. To best address the unique challenges and opportunities that are associated with each of these chapters, businesses are using people-first processes and smart HR management solutions. 

  • Job search and recruiting: Modern job seekers will check you out on news and social media as well as employer review sites. To hang on to the best talent, it’s also important that your job application and recruitment process is streamlined and easy to use, and that your communication and interview processes are effective. This is also a great time to help pre-hires get involved with company culture. Do you have a community page for staff news and activities? Are your staff social media resources up-to-date and relevant?
  • Onboarding: You need to pack a lot of information into this short phase. Each new hire will have different orientation needs and unique learning styles. Engaging tools like virtual reality and natural language processing bots can help you personalise learning and training, and make new hires feel more engaged.
  • Learning, training, and development: With hybrid teams, it can be more difficult to mentor employees and track progress through their learning and career development stages. It’s important to use processes and tools that can help HR teams recommend and monitor essential training paths. It’s also ideal when learning can be customised and delivered in ways that are most relevant and engaging for each individual.
  • Engagement and team involvement: After employees settle in, they begin to consider their future with your company. At this stage, it’s beneficial if they experience a sense of belonging and community within the company culture. Supporting the employee lifecycle and journey means a commitment to creating and maintaining both on-site community engagement and ‘virtual water cooler’ opportunities for hybrid workers.
  • Recognition and reviews: As every human being knows, we feel more motivated when we are valued and appreciated. But knowing when and how to express recognition can be difficult, and further complicated by different managerial styles around praise and correction. In the employee assessment stage, digital employee mapping tools can help employers maintain a strong and unbiased culture of recognition and reward. Also, connected tools can help to ensure that employers are staying on schedule with all events and target-setting activities associated with performance review. 
  • Promotion and career advancement: At every phase in their career, it’s important for workers to know that there is an opportunity for progression –that their successes and accomplishments are noted and recorded so they will not be overlooked when opportunities arise. Also, when a particular skill set is urgently needed, it’s essential that HR teams have a real-time idea of where all the talent is located across the whole business.
  • Exit: This final phase in the employee experience journey can be a stressful  and confusing one. Some workers are retiring after years of service. Others are laid off or terminated which can result in a completely different set of challenges and risks. When employees are given access to assistance, communities, and resources beyond their last day of work, it can help them transition to a happy retirement or a productive new role. 

What is an employee experience platform (EXP)?

Today’s employee experience platforms evolved from the employee portals of several years ago, to become online apps – and finally, today’s integrated, cloud-based EXPs. Modern EXP solutions combine engagement, wellbeing, productivity, collaboration, and communication tools. They have an employee-first design which allows businesses to take complete control of the look, feel, and experience people have when using these tools – while retaining the power and functionality of the original, underlying HRMS system. 

 

In other words, modern EXPs update the front end of strong applications and systems, without disrupting or complicating the back-end functioning – creating a new experience layer on top of the existing structure to make it more modern, mobile-optimised, highly personalised, composable, and easy to use.   

What to look for in an employee experience platform

A unified experience

Look for solutions that consolidate processes and applications with a unified sign-on and entry point. Every department and employee will have different needs so it’s essential that relevant new applications can be easily integrated in the cloud. This includes employee-initiated events such as course registration, managerial approvals, and various requests and inquiries.

 

Access-anywhere connectivity

Beyond in-office staff, today’s workforce includes contractors, gig workers, and remote employees. It’s essential that everyone is able to align with your strategy and culture – as well as access the resources, applications, content, and back-and-forth communication they need to do their best work.  This offers learners a single point of entry for all their learning and skill-building relevant opportunities.

 

Enhanced search functions

The statistics are pretty shocking, with many office professionals spending more time searching for files and documents, than they do actually working. For large organisations with complex HR and compliance landscapes, it’s essential that an EX platform provides powerful indexing and search functions. As well as searchable people data and subject-expert intel and content. Search functions should be intuitive, with topic-based and user-friendly interfaces. 

 

Personalisation

Look for digital workspaces that can both centralise and customise the information, applications, and process that each employee needs. When platforms use role-based access protocols, this automatically gates secure content and applications so that people immediately know what they can and can’t use. This means that when systems have smart recommendation tools and drag-and-drop functionality, employees are free to design and customise their digital workspaces.

 

Automation

The best EX platforms support HR teams in their initiatives to automate processes and tasks. HR workflows are some of the most detailed and repetitive, while also being among the most highly secure. Process automation tools can help to streamline and strategize activities related to onboarding, training, engagement, and more – relieving pressure and making error-prone tasks more accurate.

 

Collaboration and exchange

Whether in or out of the office, it’s crucial for teams to be able to communicate and work together – flowing easily between work groups and people networks as the situation demands. By giving teams project-based workspaces and access to company-wide communities, they have the freedom and flexibility to collaborate and share knowledge.

 

Contextual and skills-based learning

Giving business context to employees helps them to better understand the value of each learning activity, such as linking career paths with development goals.

 

Targeted communication 

Creating workspaces that consider specific group needs, such as new hires or deskless workers, helps organisations to drive agility and to ensure all employees, whether in-person or virtual, can communicate and collaborate. 

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Is it time for an EX platform

Find out how an employee experience platform is transforming HR.

Employee experience FAQs

Employee experience management (EXM) is the practice of developing and delivering the best possible employee experiences. From searching for a job to exiting a role, EXM uses dedicated HR solutions and smart platforms to gather employee data and feedback. Using analytics and research on this information helps foster employee satisfaction and engagement – which in turn leads to improved business performance. 

Employee journey mapping is a people-first practice that helps organisations to visually map the various stages an employee goes through from job search to retirement. This helps businesses clarify roles, allot resources, and predict and prepare for common challenges and risks associate with each journey stage. 

An EXP is a smart, unified software platform that allows businesses and employees to control and customise the interface, set-up, and interactions they have while using existing HCM or HR management applications. EXP solutions allow for modification of the front end without any disruption of the foundational back-end technologies driving the HCM.

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