Can technology drive outstanding employee experience? | Unit4
Skip to main content
traffic lights with smiley faces

Can technology drive outstanding employee experience?

from  June 17, 2022 | 4 min read

Employee experience has become a catch-all phrase for everything people encounter while working for an organization. That it’s correlated to employee engagement is no longer in question: if you want to know what motivates your people to come to work every day — remote or not — consider what they deal with, how it makes them feel, and if it helps or hinders when it comes to getting their work done.

What’s not so clear is exactly what should be considered as part of that experience. Too often, the parameters are viewed in terms of what happens between people — teams, coworkers, managers, and leaders. But there’s a lot more to an employee’s experience that has nothing to do with the people they work with, and everything to do with the technology they use. Particularly now, as workplaces have migrated so many functions to the digital environment, interactions with technology play a pivotal role in how employees experience work. And with technology’s impact, employee experience and user experience now share common ground — and it’s something employers are going to want to get right.

Organizations are now recognizing technology’s presence in employee experience, which aspects drive a truly great employee experience, and what they can do to gauge engagement.

Employee Self-Service (ESS)

Personalization isn’t just about customizing a portal with a set of preferences or loading data — though certainly, that’s part of the appeal. It’s also about being able to access, run and own the process —whenever possible. Many employers saw just how willing employees are to step up to the plate when it comes to ESS during the pandemic, when a shift to remote working meant that organizations had to rely on their employees’ digital savvy, willingness to learn, and their readiness to prioritize. It wasn’t an experiment we planned, but by and large, it worked — and taught employers a great deal about the power of autonomy when it comes to a range of work and HR tasks.

Given the choice, as with chatbots, most employees will prefer autonomy to down time. Given the fragmented nature of schedules, obligations, and responsibilities, ESS can also allow people to manage admin in their own time. Streamlining the process also reduces the frustration of waiting for approvals. As long as the ESS portal is simple, easy to use, and engaging, it won’t just be digital native generations that are comfortable using it: everyone will, and ESS becomes part of your workplace culture, driving a sense of employee experience as empowered, efficient, and self-driven.

Automation

Employers sometimes miss the mark on this key driver of employee motivation because they’re concerned about employee fears around being replaced by machines. According to the International Federation of Robotics, less than 10 % of jobs can be completely automated — it’s more likely automation is perceived as a tool instead of a challenge.

Employees appreciate being freed from the tedium of repetitive tasks when they can be – incorporating automation into work processes enables them to allocate more focus and time to higher level tasks. Automating tasks such as invoicing, purchasing, reporting, forecasting and analytics can provide a level of data and intelligence that can enhance and empower peoples’ ability to make strategic decisions. Unit4 research found that more than 70% of back-office processes make great candidates for automation which enables employees to become far more involved in decision making, collaboration, innovation, and skills development.

Chatbots

It may seem surprising that employees want to be able to interact with chatbots rather than wait for a human. But given the scale, scope, and time, chatbots are vital and becoming an accepted — and expected — part of the employee experience. Gartner’s research into chatbots products found that by 2022, a full 70 % of white-collar employees will be interacting with conversational platforms daily.

While a key reason for incorporating more chatbots used to be that it was a digitally friendly way to meet the expectations of millennials and Gen Z, the recent pivot to remote working has added yet another reason – necessity. Employees are managing their jobs at all hours as their workdays expand to accommodate the intersections of life and work. Even as employees return to the workplace, they are bringing new behaviors and preferences with them. Being able to shortcut to an answer via well-designed conversational technology is understandably preferred.

The Science Behind Employee Experience

What people now want from their technology experience are ways to achieve autonomy, stay on top of their jobs, get the answers they need quickly, and streamline administrative processes. These aren’t hard markers to measure— if your HR technology has built-in data and reporting capabilities.

Employers can apply analytics to chart the employee experience journey and gauge participation and engagement, looking at interactions with metrics in mind such as time spent and successful outcome. It turns hard data into insights about how employees are experiencing the workplace and work technology — and drive strategy around improvements and adjustments that benefit both the people and the organization. It can uncover a whole range of usage patterns, communications gaps, process bottlenecks, friction around certain tools, engagement levels, and more. It’s a way of measuring how the technology is performing for people, not just how people are performing for the organization.

A recent Employee Engagement Trends report by Unit4 found that 42 % of HR leaders see a link between attrition and disengagement. Two thirds of organizations in the study cited increasing engagement as a key priority for the year. As it turned out, the year brought some unprecedented changes and challenges — and revealed just how important employee experience is for engagement as well as performance.

But it was technology that fostered that engagement — as we leaned on digital platforms and processes, whether our teams were scattered, or our workplaces were running on a socially distanced minimum crew. It was technology that enabled people to stay aligned and connected; technology that promoted a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction; technology that facilitated tasks being completed. In turn, employees found what worked for them, and what they needed — through their experience. When an employer listens, that’s when engagement gets a powerful boost.

Sign up to see more like this