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Employee Experience

What Is Digital Employee Experience?

Written by
Charlotte McIntyre

As flexible working continues to take the working world by storm, the digital employee experience is becoming increasingly important. But what does the term digital employee experience actually mean and why is it so important?

In this article, we’re going to explore the definition, benefits and challenges of the digital employee experience. We’ll also look at how teams across your organisation can better shape the digital employee experience to boost productivity, engagement and culture.

Let’s get to it!

What Is Digital Employee Experience?

Digital employee experience (DEX) refers to how effectively employees interact with technology and digital workplace tools, and how well these interactions support employee engagement, productivity, collaboration, and communication.

DEX falls under the category of employee experience, which refers to everything employees see, hear, interact with, and observe during their tenure in an organisation. Each touchpoint of the employee journey offers a unique experience, ranging from recruitment, preboarding, and onboarding to growth and offboarding. The majority of these touchpoints can be found in both a physical and digital workplace within your organisation. Therefore, if you are looking to shape a positive employee experience, you should consider both digital and physical employee interactions.

When it comes to technology, we all have high expectations. From social media to shopping, a range of platforms and technologies allow us to enjoy seamless digital experiences that make our lives easier. And we have come to expect the same of work technology, too. When we are unable to access information or complete a simple task using the technology we have at our fingertips, it is extremely frustrating. It might even affect how we feel about our work, colleagues, or our organisation.

Suggested reading: Want to find out more about digital workplaces? Read our blog: ‘What is a Digital Workplace?’

Who Is Responsible For Digital Employee Experience?

Digital employee experience is often assumed to be the responsibility of HR alone. After all, their job is to shape high-performing, productive, and happy workplaces. But we find that view incredibly reductive.

Each employee in your organisation has a unique experience every day. It happens when they log on to their digital workplace, when they hop onto a video call with colleagues, when they try to access a document, and when they read your employee newsletter.

As a result, HR does plays an integral role in defining, shaping, and leading the employee experience, but it also extends beyond them. Digital employee experiences are no different. Creating positive experiences for your employees requires the involvement of a variety of stakeholders, from the CEO to the IT department and HR.

Why Invest In Digital Employee Experience?

Imagine this scenario:

You want to buy toothpaste and a toothbrush, so you grab your phone and find an online shop that carries your favourite brand. You add a new toothbrush and toothpaste to your basket and proceed to checkout. As you do, the page breaks, and your basket is empty when you finally return to the homepage. So you start over, but the same thing happens again.

What do you feel at that moment? Angry? Frustrated? Irritated?

Probably.

What are you likely to do? Buy your new toothbrush and toothpaste from another website and vow to never visit that online store again?

Probably.

Consider the same situation at work. You’re attempting to complete a task, but your software isn’t working. Or you can’t find it. Or  you have to repeat multiple steps over and over again.

It’s energy sapping. Frustrating. Annoying.

In fact, it’s so irritating that it affects your mood all day. You rant at your colleagues about it. You head to LinkedIn and ponder that recent message from a recruiter. You pick up your phone and fall down a TikTok rabbit hole.

Poor digital employee experiences annoy and distract your employees. Moreover, they hinder creativity, hamper communication, and negatively affect customer satisfaction.

The benefits of a good DEX, however, include:

Flexibility

The desire for truly flexible work is growing. And most workers don’t just want location flexibility, they want schedule flexibility too.

There is no doubt that technology is one of the key enablers of flexible working that extends beyond where we work. But only if it offers a good digital employee experience.

Flexible working environments of all shapes and sizes require a consistent, on-brand, personalised DEX, especially when the majority of work takes place online.

The right digital workplace tools partnered with a positive digital employee experience make your employees’ lives easier. With it, they work from anywhere, at any time. They communicate effectively with colleagues both synchronously and asynchronously. They share and access information seamlessly. Even if they never visit the office, they feel part of your workplace culture.

Simply put, DEX makes flexible work a reality for employees because everything is intuitive, easy to use, and accessible.

Improved Attraction & Retention

Finding and retaining top talent is a constant struggle in today’s environment. There are many facets to an inclusive recruitment and retention strategy, but the employee experience – particularly the digital employee experience – should be a priority.

An employee’s experience with your organisation starts when they apply for a job and continues throughout their tenure. It’s likely that an employee’s first touch with your organisation will be digital. For example, when they’re browsing job boards or looking at the careers page on your website.

The digital employee experience sets the tone for your new hires throughout these touchpoints. People will feel energised, motivated and connected if their first ever experiences with your organisation (in recruitment, pre-boarding, and onboarding) are seamless, organised, accessible, on-brand, and personalised.

Moreover, if your digital employee experience makes flexible working a reality, you will attract talent from around the globe. People want flexible working more than ever. When you offer that in a manner that really benefits people and your business, it creates a reputation for your company that will attract the best and keep them as they advance.

Boosted Productivity

There are a variety of factors that affect employee productivity, such as engagement, management practices, and workplace environment. In addition, the right digital tools and experience can make a difference to both quality of work and output.

There are a lot of tech tools in the workplace that are not nearly as good as those we use on a daily basis. And that can be super frustrating for employees. Most knowledge workers rely on a variety of different tools to do their jobs effectively, as well as information and policies that are scattered across disorganised digital workplaces or buried in outdated, confusing intranets.

This is a prime example of poor digital experiences. People have all the gear but no idea how to find it, interact with it or share it effectively.

If, however, your digital workplace is logical, organised, and relevant to your employees, they become productivity superstars because they can easily switch between tools and software. Collaboration is improved because information can be easily shared across teams. Instead of spending ages searching for what they need, they can access it as soon as they log on, relieving their frustration. Wherever they are, they feel connected to your organisation because they start and end their days in a welcoming and personalised digital environment.

Better digital experiences lead to greater productivity.

Improved Customer Experience

Customer experience (CX) is the impression your customers have of your company as they progress through their buyer journey. Many touchpoints influence and impact the customer experience, and many of those take place in digital environments.

The employee experience impacts the customer experience. And that makes sense when you think about it. An employee who has a great experience at work is more likely to go the extra mile, be a brand advocate, and do his or her best in every interaction with customers. In addition, if you provide a top-notch digital employee experience, it’s likely which you will deliver a superior digital customer experience, ensuring that your customers have an enjoyable experience throughout the buy cycle.

Higher ROI

Most digital transformation initiatives fail to achieve their full potential because employees don’t engage with the new technology. And this can be confusing since you know they use new technologies all the time. So, what’s the problem?

It’s likely that digital employee experience plays a big part in these situations.

By investing in better DEX, you ensure all tools and content in your organisation’s digital workplace is visible and accessible. More importantly, you are showing your employees the benefits of engaging with technology and tools at work by demonstrating your commitment to better digital experiences. The DEX, if flexible and accessible, increases productivity, irons out employee frustrations, and greases the wheels for future digital transformation initiatives.

The upshot of this is that you will see a better ROI on your work tech, tools, software and digital initiatives across the board. When you prioritise the digital employee experience, you draw a line in the sand. Putting in place tools to support productivity, quality of work, and collaboration shows your people that you value their time and expertise. As a result, employees are more likely to adopt new technologies due to its increased visibility and accessibility.

4 Common Digital Employee Experience Challenges & Solutions

Optimising the digital employee experience is no mean feat. Nor can you expect to nail it in a ‘one and done’ type process. Realistically, addressing the digital employee experience is an ongoing task that will change over time in line with digital transformation and new technologies.

Here are a few challenges you might encounter when it comes to addressing your DEX:

Legacy Systems

Your employees use a lot of technology. Some of it is old. Some of it is brand spanking new. Some of it is effective. Some of it is less so. But all you know is that you don’t have the budget, or the resource, to rip everything out and replace it with the shiniest, newest technology on the market.

But, do you know what? That’s okay. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And it’s likely that much of the technology and content you already have can serve its purpose with the right digital infrastructure.

Top tip: Take stock of what you have and evaluate its effectiveness.

What tools do employees use regularly? Which tools are gathering virtual dust? And why aren’t they being used? Ask questions and dig deep into digital employee experience in relation to each tool. Do employees understand what certain tools do? Can they find them? Do they hate using them? Understanding this will help you understand what needs to change now, what can stay and the steps you need to take to make everything more visible.

Organisational Culture

Changing the digital employee experience will be easier if your workplace culture is open and receptive to change.

On the other hand, your job will be much harder if your workplace culture perpetuates a “We’ve always done it this way” attitude.

This is true not only for employees on the ground, but also for your leadership team. The digital employee experience requires buy-in from all areas to be successful.

Top tip: Organisational culture directly affects employee engagement. And this extends to your digital initiatives, too. Make sure you have a clear vision of your culture. What core values underpin it? Does it feed your goals and mission? Does it translate across digital environments? Do managers and leaders model the behaviours that support the culture you want to build?

Focus on the ways a positive DEX can benefit your organisational culture.

Unconscious Bias

It’s all too common to see a distinct difference between the physical and digital employee experience. Employee experience bias occurs when those in charge of crafting employee experiences for everyone don’t consider the different touchpoints an employee’s journey will involve and where they will occur.

When it comes to unconscious bias, it’s tough to pin down without digging deeper and putting yourself in everyone’s shoes.

Top tip: Become familiar with all types of employee journeys in your business. Note down points of friction you encounter and brainstorm solutions. Better still, carry out a listening survey devoted to employee experience. Ask for no-holds barred feedback to discover how your employees are feeling about their journey.

Do they have everything they need? Are they well supported? What are their key frustrations and challenges? Understanding this will help you to put solutions in place that actually make employees’ lives easier, and make your DEX strategy more effective.

Shiny Object Syndrome

The process of researching new technology can be overwhelming. Moreover, all the bells, whistles and widgets can easily distract you from what you’re trying to accomplish.

Digital workplace platforms, employee engagement tools, and employee experience software all promise to improve the digital employee experience. But if you’re not sure what it is that you’re trying to achieve, how can you make the best decision for your people?

Top tip: Before you start researching potential solutions, think about what it is you’re trying to achieve.

Is it really the best idea to implement a new intranet that requires heavy IT involvement if complexity is a core frustration of digital employee experiences? Is a complex platform going to be the magic bullet for solving all your organisation’s problems if employees lack the skills to use new tech initiatives?

Your strategy and acquisition process should be guided by your business goals, employee challenges, current technology stack, employee proficiency, processes, and KPIs.

Unrealistic Expectations

As exciting as digital transformation can be, it is an ongoing process. Going ‘all in’ too soon can cause confusion and resistance. What’s more, it can be difficult to manage, measure and sustain over time, which will weaken future digital transformation projects and potentially impact employee engagement.

As we’ve mentioned earlier on in this article, you don’t have to do everything all at once. Nor do you have to reinvent the wheel in all areas. It’s likely you already have the makings of a solid digital employee experience with existing tech, and you just need to find a way to make it more accessible, on-brand or easier to find.

Top tip: Be intentional.

After you’ve done your research and understand what the core challenges are in your current digital employee experience, make a list of priorities. The things that you implement first should address the most pressing concerns. After all, these will be the things that have the biggest impact on productivity, retention and employee satisfaction.

Don’t be afraid to take it slow and break down the process into projects. Not only will this give you the control to pause and assess the results of each initiative, but it will stop employees feeling overwhelmed by so much change.

Lack Of Key Skills

Skills and confidence issues can hold employees back. The workforce you have is likely to be a multigenerational mix of ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’. New technology might appeal to some, but others might be resistant because they don’t know how to use it well.

Top tip: There are two ways to address this challenge. The first is to invest in technology that requires little training but significantly impacts the way people work.

Work technology solutions that provide an intuitive user experience that’s comparable to consumer-grade technology will inevitably be more effective than complex and difficult-to-use alternatives. However, if the digital transformation initiatives will incur a steep learning curve, make sure you offer employees training and space for learning so they can take advantage of the tools they have.

Conclusion

A digital employee experience that is understood, assessed, and adjusted is essential to employee engagement, productivity, flexibility, employee satisfaction, collaboration, growth, and profitability. At Huler, we believe that technology has the potential to be an amazing enabler. Especially in this age of distributed, asynchronous teams.

With this in mind, HulerHub was developed – an employee experience platform that enables organisations to take control of, and make sense of, the digital employee experience.

HulerHub makes all your company’s cloud-based content and tools accessible to every employee, anywhere, at any time, streamlining business processes and fostering a consistent digital experience wherever your team works.

To find out more about HulerHub, and see it in action, book a demo now.

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