two people working on a white board
PHOTO: Kaleidico

Journey mapping, segmentation and micro-targeting are well-established in customer experience — it’s time to bring them to employee experience (EX) as well. Your employees have a huge impact on your customer experience. When we make employees happier, we make customers happier, too. There’s a reason the brands people love to buy from — Southwest, Salesforce, Starbucks — are the ones they love to work for.

Employee experience isn’t just about making sure your teams are happy at work. According to WorkHuman, organizations that focus on EX see a significant impact on return on assets (ROA) and return on sales (ROS). Organizations that score in the top 25% on employee experience report nearly three times the return on assets (ROA) compared to organizations in the bottom quartile, while organizations that score in the top 25% on employee experience report two times the return on sales (ROS) compared to organizations in the bottom quartile.

It’s time to broaden the traditional view of HR functions to recognize the impact of employee satisfaction on customer experience. HR needs to focus on the most important areas of employee experience: understanding the moments that matter to employees, and collecting regular employee feedback about them; making company culture, technology and the physical workspace the best it can be; and driving a vision for the future.

However, improving employee experience isn’t just HR’s job. IT can play an important role too, from having a proactive technology strategy to advocating for design thinking and simplifying business processes.

Be Proactive About Your Technology

Imagine you’re a new employee. On your first day, you wait eight minutes for your giant tower desktop to boot up, only to discover it’s running Windows 7. Your mobile phone won’t send email, you can’t connect to the network and you keep getting booted out of Teams. And when you try to get help, no one is available.

Contrast that with the experience of arriving at work, picking up your laptop and mobile phone, turning it on, and seamlessly connecting with the network. A message on Teams pops up from IT welcoming you to the company and directing you to all the resources you need. You’re already added to all the appropriate Teams channels and groups, your email is preloaded, and your mobile phone is ready to go. It’s just easy.

Nine out of 10 C-Suite executives say they choose new technology that gives employees what they need — but according to PWC, only 53% of employees agree. Companies that focus on employee experience also invest in the technology that makes it easier to get work done, whether that’s moving legacy applications to the cloud, adopting a self-service forms-based approach to common IT tasks like password resets or equipment provisioning, or conducting employee experience surveys on new and existing technologies.

When IT and HR collaborate to make employee onboarding seamless, that can set the tone for that employee’s experience at a company — and this is an area where IT can really take the lead. Instead of just signing off on security for new applications, think proactively and strategically, and partner with HR, Finance and other departments to bring new ideas to the table.

Related Article: How the CIO and CHRO Will Rethink Employee Experience Together

Bring Design Thinking to Your Employee Experience

Design thinking encourages organizations to focus on the people they're creating solutions for, which leads to better products, services and internal processes. When you sit down to create a solution for a business need, the first question should always be: What human need are you meeting? When you shift your thinking to focus on what people need, you are actually better equipped to find a solution that’s better for the organization.

We’ve talked about understanding the moments that matter most in employee experience, including onboarding, internal job changes, processes relating to the birth or adoption of a child, relocation, and payroll. Remember: You can’t fix every employee’s experience at once. But it’s better to start making progress than to get stuck looking for one-size-fits-all solutions. To begin bringing design thinking to your employee experience, try:

  • Empathizing with your employees. Understand their experience. Survey them and interview them. If you listen to employees, they will tell you what bothers them about work and what makes work difficult. Gather feedback from across the organization, then capture and assess it. If your business process automation system has a survey component with built-in reporting, this is a great use case for it.
  • Reimagining how work gets done — and involving employees in the process. The rapid — and relatively smooth — transition to remote work at the start of the pandemic shocked many IT departments. Now’s the time to study the work-arounds your employees have been using. What’s working for them? What about for you? What could be scaled up and formalized?
  • Making it easier for employees to do their jobs. Everyone enjoys work when it’s less of a hassle. Whether it’s a slow VPN, a lack of the tech tools needed to do their jobs or inefficient tech support, inefficient IT can choke productivity. Make sure employees have the right tools and the right equipment, as well as the right information and ability to make decisions.

You can’t improve employee experience by bringing in a food truck or sending a sympathetic email. Focus instead on employing design thinking, so you can implement the positive, intentional actions that enable employees to do a good job and help them feel they have a good job.

Simplify Business Processes

As our organizations grow, instead of simplifying, we make things more complex. We keep tacking on new approvals, new steps and new branches. We add new point solutions and new systems, creating a bureaucratic labyrinth impossible for employees to navigate.

HR research analyst Josh Bersin shared an example from Coca Cola. It found that ordering a new employee card took 52 different process steps. Reengineering this single process as a part of simplifying the onboarding process saved a million hours a year of employee time.

It’s time to evaluate your own company’s systems. Many processes have been cobbled together over time, with forms or procedures designed for the simplicity of the employees who are processing them — not the employees who are completing them. IT can bring a business analyst mindset here, with an eye toward simplification. Audit your processes and your systems. Where are there duplications? Where are employees doing the legwork that automation tools could do instead?

Work with your managers to take a critical eye and ask why certain systems are in place — then empower managers to design experiences consistent with your core values. A business process automation system that enables IT to maintain central control over standards, security and auditing while enabling managers flexibility over forms and process design is a great way to start!

IT Has a Critical Role to Play Now and in the Future

Never before has IT been so essential for organizations. Whether we’re in the office, at home, or in some combination of the two, technology connects us, increases efficiency and helps us work smarter. IT plays a crucial role in employee engagement, development and productivity — which results in a positive impact on employee experience, organizational productivity and, ultimately, revenue.