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Employees are at the core of every successful business. When an organization's workforce is empowered to work efficiently and effectively, they can deliver exceptional customer experiences and accelerate digital transformation, which, in turn, drives customer satisfaction and revenue growth.

While the connection between employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) isn't a new concept, it has gained traction among leaders due to today's competitive pressures, rising talent shortages and increased costs. According to Forbes, 60 percent of organizations have identified EX as a top priority.  

By optimizing the digital components of the EX — the digital employee experience (DEX) — organizations can create a workplace where employees thrive and position themselves to achieve key business outcomes.

Let's take a closer look.

What is the digital employee experience?

To be clear, most organizations already focus on employee experience, considering traditional components such as physical environment, benefits/incentive offerings and manager/employee relationship building. For instance, the building may have a modern design that sparks creativity and collaboration, the healthcare benefits may be competitive and employees may have positive relationships with their managers — but what about the employees' digital experience, which accounts for the majority of their day-to-day tasks?

DEX focuses specifically on employees' interactions with the technology they encounter in their jobs daily — their digital workspace — and ensuring they have the flexibility and convenience to seamlessly access any application, on any device, from any location. For instance, do employees have access to business-critical apps if they are working from home or traveling to on-site client meetings? Often, it's these types of experiences that are overlooked. 

Consider organizations with frontline workers. At times, HR needs these employees to complete tasks – like benefits enrollment – even though they're not in a physical office with access to a desktop computer. Without a DEX that allows them to access this information on a mobile device, they have no easy way of getting this done. In fact, they may not even know they need to enroll in anything.

This is just one example. The DEX will vary from employee to employee, as workflows and processes are different for every role in the organization. 

Why is the digital employee experience important?

When organizations deliver a DEX that exceeds employee expectations, it allows them to achieve key business outcomes that enable their business to thrive:

  • Improved employee satisfaction: When employees have positive experiences with workplace technologies and processes, they're happier, more productive and more likely to stay.
  • Increased productivity and collaboration: Allowing employees to access any application on any device from any location allows them to be more efficient and get work done faster.
  • The ability to attract and retain top talent: If employees must navigate poor digital experiences daily, they'll get frustrated and look elsewhere. According to a recent survey, 36 percent of employees have considered quitting their jobs due to a poor DEX.
  • Faster innovation: Equipped with the right tools and technologies, employees can accelerate digital transformation and bring new products, services and features to market faster.
  • Improved customer experience: Engaged employees outperform their competition by up to 147 percent.
  • Reduced costs: By retaining top talent, leaders can save on recruiting, hiring and onboarding costs. Studies show that replacing a salaried employee can cost six to nine months' salary on average.
  • Exponential growth: When organizations focus on both EX and CX, they can multiply growth. According to Tiffani Bova's The Experience Mindset, "Companies with high customer experience and employee experience exhibit a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) almost double (8.50 percent) those with low customer and employee experience (4.35 percent)."

Bottom line: There are many reasons to optimize the DEX. By removing digital friction and streamlining processes, employees can be more productive, collaborative and innovative from wherever they work.

Common challenges

Creating an ideal DEX is not without its challenges, which is why many organizations struggle to deliver it. 

The first challenge is justifying budget for the DEX. As organizations tighten budgets to recover from the pandemic and prepare for economic headwinds, it's more important than ever before to understand how investing in the DEX can pay dividends immediately and over the long term by helping achieve high-level key business outcomes.

Second, organizations must focus on breaking down silos within the organization. HR, IT and relevant departments must collaborate to develop a holistic view of their employees' digital experience. Each department brings a different perspective to the table that, collectively, helps the organization develop a more comprehensive experience that enables employees to stay engaged, connected and productive.

Another challenge is understanding employees and what technology they need to work efficiently. Who are your end users and how do they work? These are important questions that many organizations struggle to answer due to a lack of visibility into individual workflows and insight from line-of-business leaders. 

Five steps for building a better digital employee experience

There are several steps organizations can take now to start their journey toward delivering an ideal DEX. 

1. Form a DEX team. 

One way to break down silos is by forming a cross-functional team. The DEX team should include leadership from across the entire organization — not just the CHRO (chief human resources officer) and CIO (chief information officer). Capturing various perspectives will help form a holistic view, allowing the organization to better understand where there are opportunities to empower employees based on job roles. 

Additionally, some large organizations are hiring a dedicated leader to oversee DEX and keep efforts on track. Job titles vary, but some examples include Head of Employee Experience, Chief People Officer and Director of IT – Employee Experience. 

Learn from Cummins' IT Director of Employee Experience.Watch webinar 

2. Develop dynamic personas. 

Many organizations think they know what their employees need without ever asking them or understanding their daily workflows. By conducting employee surveys and interviews, and collecting end-user IT data, the DEX team can identify points of digital friction and create dynamic personas, or groupings of end users that share common characteristics, services and/or requirements. These personas can be used as a framework for prioritizing technology improvements and allocating IT resources. 

3. Attend third-party virtual meetings and events that foster HR and IT collaboration.

Search out and attend virtual events that bring HR and IT professionals together. These meetups can provide a wealth of information and insight into what's working – and what's not – for other organizations that are trying to improve their DEX. We recommend the following events, webinars and communities: 

4. Build your business case to secure executive and financial sponsorship. 

By mapping the persona requirements identified in step two to high-level business outcomes, the DEX team can present a compelling value proposition to key stakeholders, including how these digital workspace improvements will reduce total cost of ownership (TCO). This is a critical step for securing funding so the DEX team can move forward with an execution plan.

5. Engage with an established digital workspace partner. 

Achieving a better digital employee experience is not an easy task, so engaging with an established partner is highly recommended. A trusted advisor, like World Wide Technology, can help every step of the way – from planning to implementation to training – so your journey to empowering employees is smooth and seamless. 

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