The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled organisations to look at employee experience from a very different perspective. As the shift towards digital transformation continues, there has to be more of an emphasis on employee experience as remote working creates a socially disconnected workforce.
Organisations didn’t have a choice when this pandemic started back in February. To keep business up and running, an increasing number of companies asked their employees to work remotely to secure the health and safety of their workforce. Enabling a major workforce virtually and getting the best out of them is something we have never experienced before. So, employers needed to rethink and redesign their strategies around employee experience to adapt to these uncertainties. This learning will help them navigate the post-COVID world many people believe that we will not be returning to ‘normal’ very soon, instead remote working will become the new ‘normal’ for the majority of people.
Organisations primarily need to address the defining moments affecting employee experience during this time. They should continuously listen to people to understand what matters most to them. ‘Employee journey mapping’ can help in finding out the most important factors for the employees. It must be said that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is detrimental to ensuring a positive employee experience as some may be worried about being disconnected and others may be struggling with balancing work in this new reality. A thorough journey mapping would help to get the right insights and help us in taking the most important action points.
It is worth mentioning that, with the introduction of a flexible way of working, trust becomes one of the most important factors influencing employee experience. A relationship built on trust between the employee and employers is vital in enhancing the overall satisfaction of the workforce. Leaders must adapt to this new situation built on trust and confidence rather than on face to face contact and management. Managers need to learn how to effectively manage and enable remote teams. They need to be dynamic, empathetic and follow the most efficient manner to encourage people to go beyond. I truly believe leaders will have an important role to play in building trust and in enhancing employee experience in an era where many people are working remotely.
Another important factor when looking at overall employee experience is employee wellbeing. As working norms are changing and remote working is becoming the new norm, businesses should consider changing their focus on wellbeing from that perspective as well. Again, when organizations will start returning to physical workplaces, health and safety will become an integral part in such transitions. People will remember how their organization treated them and how they felt during the transformation and transition of work which should have a huge contribution in future loyalty and experience. COVID has created the opportunity for the employers to reshape and reimagine not only the physical workplace but also future relationships with their people. And wellbeing, convenience and flexibility should be in the core in designing that post-covid workspace model.
As the dependency on tools and technology have increased rapidly over the past few months, employees must be equipped with the knowledge and understanding of how to effectively utilise these tools to ensure the best outcome. It is the responsibility of the employers to ensure
that their employees have the right training to use new technologies implemented within the organisation. Employee experience around this will be pivotal for productivity which, in turn, will be directly linked with business outcome.
What more employers need to do? They need to bring collaboration tools that connect everyone in the company. Every initiative needs to be visible and there must be adequate representation for all levels in the organisation. People need to collaborate with teams, across teams and even across companies seamlessly. By creating an environment of transparency, employees will feel as though they are a part of the bigger picture and they will not be in fear of missing out.
While we talk about digital transformation and bringing digital solutions, some important factors we need to keep in mind. It has been said that, on average, 11 HR systems of records are operational in any organization. To some extent, employees are exposed to more. Overlapping of functionalities can be overwhelming and can make employees more confused. So, it is very important to review the purpose and need of many HR applications, assessing how they are impacting the organisation and whether they can be replaced efficiently.
Digital employee experience is not only about building new digital solutions but also means consolidation, simplification or even de-digitalize unnecessary applications to ensure a seamless digital experience. Again, before introducing any digital solutions, we need to put a huge focus on optimization of the processes first. As long as the processes are complex, any solution around those can also remain complex and will create chaos. We need to analyse how employees will perceive the solution, how the new technology will affect their way of work and how much they will benefit from the implementation of new technologies.
In addition, if people do not love the solution and they do not see the value in it, they will not return to it. We need to keep in mind that ‘Technology is digital, but users are human’! In this era of continuous technological development, the humanization of technology bears similar importance.
S M Sayed Hossain Rubel is a Global Expert in Digital Employee Experience and People Analytics, Telenor Group and a global ambassador and supporter of UNLEASH, the biggest global HR and tech community.