Organizations need to attract and retain top talent to power their digital transformations and initiatives, but to do so, they must first meet employees’ expectations.
More career opportunities are available to job seekers than ever before. As of November 2019, there were 6.8 million job openings in the U.S. and only 5.8 million hires to fill them.
In other words, employees can be selective. They have a longer list of expectations, and if organizations don’t meet those expectations, it’s quite simple: job candidates will move on to the next offer and current employees will leave.
So, what do employees want?
One of the highest-ranked items employees expect is an outstanding digital employee experience. This is especially important to digitally native millennials who make up 50 percent of the workforce, and by 2025, will grow to 75 percent.
“Each employee wants and expects a personalized experience,” says Josh Olson, VMware director of employee experience solutions.
Human resources (HR) departments – who typically focus on things like pay, health benefits, retirement plans and other traditional employee must-haves – must now expand their duties to advocate for the digital employee experience.
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, does the building have a modern design that sparks creativity and collaboration? Are the healthcare benefits competitive? Do employees have a positive relationship with their managers?
Less common is an emphasis on the digital aspects of employee experience. The digital employee experience focuses specifically on employees’ interactions with the technology they encounter in their jobs daily and ensuring they have the flexibility and convenience to seamlessly access any application, on any device, from any location. For example, do employees have access to business-critical apps if they are working from home? How about while traveling? Or when presenting in a client or off-site meeting room? These are the types of seamless experiences that are often overlooked.
When organizations personalize digital experiences for employees, it opens a world of opportunity to empower and maximize employee time.
For example, consider truck drivers at a manufacturing company. 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 digital employee experience that allows them to access this information on a mobile device, the drivers have no easy way of getting this done. In fact, they may not even know they need to enroll in anything until they’ve returned to headquarters two weeks later, Olson explained.
“You help HR, because now they have a digital billboard in everybody’s pocket,” Olson said. “That digital workspace can now be used for global communications. They can tell employees about benefits enrollment – like they normally would by posting it in the break room – but, instead, employees can have it on their phones, and HR knows when they have seen it.”
This is just one example. The digital employee experience will vary from employee to employee as workflows and processes are different for every role in the organization.
Creating an ideal digital employee experience is not without its challenges, which is why many organizations struggle to deliver it.
The first challenge is 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.
“A lot of companies think, well, this is an IT thing,” Olson said. “But IT is going to focus on apps and devices. On the other hand, some people think it’s a HR thing. Well, that group is going to focus on workflows and processes. So, it’s both of those departments working together.”
Another challenge is focusing investments in the right areas. Olson often meets with organizations that are investing solely in their physical building and neglecting the digital experience completely.
“I work with companies that recognize they have to attract millennials, and they need to do something,” Olson said. “And when I ask what they are doing, they tell me they’re spending $50 million and renovating their building. They’re going to have these amazing discovery centers, an on-site Starbucks, a place to drop off your kids. And that’s great, up until the point where they look at what the employee is doing every day.”
First steps for building a better digital employee experience
There are several steps organizations can take now to start their journey toward delivering an ideal digital employee experience.
1. Form a cross-functional digital employee experience committee.
One way to break down silos is through a cross-functional committee. This committee should serve as the voice for advocating the digital employee experience. While HR and IT should lead the committee, it’s best practice to include employees from across the organization. This will help to form a holistic view, allowing the organization to better understand where there are opportunities to empower employees based on job role.
2. Attend third-party events that foster HR and IT collaboration.
Search out and attend events that bring HR and IT professionals under the same roof. Both large-scale summits and smaller local 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 digital employee experience. Here are a few upcoming events to consider:
- Gartner's Digital Workspace Summit - March 16-17, 2020 | Phoenix, Ariz.
- VMware's The Future of Employee Experience Summit- April 2, 2020 | Austin, Texas
- Gartner's Digital Workspace Summit - Sept. 23-24, 2020 | London, U.K.
3. 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 can help every step of the way – from planning to implementation to training – so your journey to empowering employees is smooth and seamless.