Why investing in digital employee experience is key

02 Aug 2019

In the past couple of years employee experience has been a recurrent theme for HR functions and internal communications teams, with a particular focus on the contribution of digital channels such as intranets, employee portals and internal social networks. Just as digital is a significant factor in the customer experience, it is important for employee experience.

Of course, “digital” is just only one element that influences employee experience. Other elements such as organisational culture, the physical workplace, HR policies, growth and development opportunities, the leadership team and company purpose also guide how employees experience their work and feel about it.  

What is employee experience and why is it important?

There is no real consensus over an exact definition of employee experience, but it is generally regarded as the holistic, overall experience of work for each employee  – the totality of the touchpoints between employer and employee – aligning to definitions of customer experience. 

It is also about employee perceptions of their daily experience of work  – is work somewhere people want to be or somewhere they don’t? Some definitions also take in the “hire to fire” journey,  the employee lifecycle starting from their onboarding experience through to internal career progression to finally leaving an organisation. 

A strong employee experience has, arguably, many beneficial outcomes including:

  • Better employee retention and reduced employee turnover
  • Improved productivity and increased efficiency
  • Better ability to attract new talent
  • Even supporting better customer service. 

What exactly is the contribution of digital? 

Digital channels and the “digital workplace” make a significant contribution to the employee experience. Employees spend so much of their working day using technology, that an outdated, clunky or fragmented technology experience can lead to lost time, reduced productivity and significant user frustration. Experiencing that everyday can impact how people feel about their work.

Conversely, a great digital experience that helps employees get things done, drives efficiency and shows that your organisation is investing in technology. It helps employees feel supported by their employer.

Another important aspect of digital is the information that employees consume via intranets, portals and social networks. Here company news, leadership communications, operational updates, people-focused items and more can engage employees and communicate elements of the “employee experience” that are important including everything from learning opportunities to organisational “purpose” to C-suite messaging.

The rise of the employee experience platform

Inevitably with the rise of a workplace concept, there is software being marketed as  “employee experience” platforms. These tend to improve key HR-related moments such as employee onboarding, or help to remove digital frustrations, for example aggregating employee tasks or approvals from a multitude of systems into one convenient place. In fact, noted HR tech influencer Josh Bersin has observed that “the employee experience platform market has arrived”.

Are you investing in employee experience?

Is your organisation properly investing in employee experience? If we asked the same thing about customer experience most digital teams would say yes, but they tend to be far more hesitant when asked about adequate investment in employee experience. 

The number of organisations that have simultaneously have great websites but awful intranets or dreadful HR portals and put up with this situation year after year is surprisingly high. We’ve also observed that investing in a digital compliance and assessment product like Sitemorse is relatively common in the world of customer experience and really helps improve digital experiences for customers, but it is far less used across internal-facing digital channels. 

How digital improvement works for employee experience

We believe this lack of investment is short-sighted as many of the elements that are considered as important for a strong external digital experience for customers are also true for internal channels aimed at employees. For example, all of the following should be a given on any intranet, portal or enterprise social network:

  • having high quality up to date content
  • good performing pages that load quickly
  • brand consistency across different channels
  • excellent levels of accessibility compliance. 

Just as you would do with customer experience, investing in a good CMS and an accompanying digital assessment and compliance solution will make a real difference to how your employees experience digital channels. This is particularly true as the internal digital landscape for any one organisation tends to be even messier than the external digital footprint. Any solution that assesses different channels (including internal social networks, apps and various different legacy systems) spot issues and drives consistency will be very welcome. 

Invest in employee experience

You invest in customer experience, so you should invest in employee experience. This  means investing in a CMS for your intranet as well as investing in a digital compliance and assessment solution that can drive better content, ensure compliance and support consistent experiences across channels. If you’d like to know how Sitemorse can help you improve digital employee experience, then get in touch!