The key to creating a digital workplace is understanding the work experience from an employee’s perspective, beginning with a high-level digital workplace strategy. For most organizations, this process starts with benchmarking activities that examine how digitally mature companies have successfully integrated technology into company culture.
Understanding what other organizations are doing well makes it possible to develop a high-level mission and vision for the business. A clear picture of an ideal end state is critical to creating a comprehensive strategic plan to achieve these goals.
The impact of a comprehensive strategy is clear. Research from Aberdeen Group shows significant differences in success metrics between organizations with formal engagement plans and those without. For example, companies with formal engagement plans have 9.2 percent improvement in the sales cycle, an 11 percent higher customer win-back rate, and 26 percent higher revenue per full-time employee than peers that lack a formal plan. Figures like these make it easier to engage executives in the process of designing and implementing a company-wide digital employee experience strategy.
Planning for successful digital transformation
As with any major initiative, careful research and planning will minimize the risk of investing resources in areas with little or no impact to the employee experience. However, creating a digital strategy without input from key stakeholders typically results in falling short of employee engagement goals.
Staff members who will be most impacted by the addition of digital tools are the best resources for pinpointing areas of opportunity and the types of investments that will offer the greatest return for employee experience. For example, remote employees and Millennials must be included in the planning stage to ensure project success.
Once you have developed a mission and vision with input from key stakeholders, create an inventory of employee applications, and examine the role each plays in operations today. Include applications procured by IT, as well as those that have specific departmental uses. The systems used in human resources activities are a good place to start.
Consider software used during the application and hiring process, as well as any learning management systems that employees rely on for onboarding and ongoing development. Examine payroll software, employee self-service portals, and benefits enrollment sites. Most important, learn more about how employees communicate with one another, from traditional favorites like email and instant messaging to conference lines and video-chat software.
After gathering all of the information, conduct a gap analysis. Where are the pain points? What is missing from the employee experience? Which expectations are not being met? Is the available technology successful in bringing employees together?
Often, a major obstacle isn’t lack of technology, but lack of coordination in the array of single-purpose tools. For example, organizations use one provider for instant messaging and another for video conferencing, or employees must access three separate tools to gather personal payroll and benefits data. Simply figuring out where to find information and managing all of the different passwords leads to intense frustration–and disengagement follows quickly.
Mapping the employee journey
Mapping the customer journey is a widely accepted business technique for understanding the customer experience start-to-finish. However, few companies put the same effort into mapping the employee journey.
This process plays an important role in designing a successful digital workplace, because it permits decision makers to visualize the workflows and processes that employees would follow once the digital transformation is complete.
With a detailed map of the employee journey, you can create a strategy to align employee applications with enterprise-wide standards, focusing on areas of value. The primary focus is to bring disconnected employees together, whether they work in a traditional office setting or they are geographically dispersed–and the strategy must include every stage of the journey.
From enhancing the candidate experience to preparing for retirement, and everything in-between, employees must be able to seamlessly access the tools necessary to get the job done.
Implementing company-wide solutions
Once the strategy is fully formed and solutions have been identified, it is time to execute the plan. Carefully outline the implementation activities. Include multi-channel communication and other organizational-change techniques to encourage early adoption of new tools and initiatives. Each task should be assigned to a specific individual, so that someone is responsible for ensuring completion.
Implementation of digital strategies can be challenging, but the process is easier when the tools being rolled out are intuitive. Today, many of the available technologies do not require IT administrators for day-to-day operation. Instead, platforms are designed so that no special technical expertise is required to add content, update settings, and so forth. This cuts down on delays due to IT bottlenecks, and limits the amount of training required for new users. As a result, employees are far more likely to start using the new tools immediately.
While some organizations continue to operate in a business-as-usual manner, a vast majority have at least started to experiment with digital technology. As the rate of change accelerates and technology continues to advance, companies that fail to move forward will fall victim to digital Darwinism. In essence, they will find themselves unable to compete in the digital economy, where customer experience is driven by mobile access and employees have high expectations for their employer’s digital leadership.
But simply adopting individual digital solutions for specific business processes isn’t enough to meet employee expectations. Today’s workforce places a high value on digitally integrated workplaces. A comprehensive digital strategy that consolidates critical systems and platforms simplifies production, and increases employee communication and collaboration.
One-stop employee portals can now provide a single point of access for networking, recognition, and connecting with operations-related software. Features include customizable, user-friendly interfaces, mobile-optimized technology, and single-sign-on capabilities. Investment in integrated employee-centric platforms is shown to improve the employee experience, increasing levels of engagement–which in turn has a positive impact on the customer experience.