Today, companies in many industries are finding it more difficult to keep employees from leaving in search of other opportunities. As recent pandemic restrictions have been lifted, many of those same companies are looking to return to the work environments that existed before the pandemic. Yet, employees have become used to the “new normal” and have adapted well to working remotely or having flexible work times or other benefits.
Those same employees may be willing to jump ship to retain those newfound benefits, creating staffing shortages and numerous other problems for businesses. What’s more, businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to attract new workers to fill vacant positions. Employers are now beginning to realize that in addition to flexibility and pay considerations, they must be able to offer an exceptional employee experience, which may mean bringing CIOs into the mix to establish ways to attract and retain staffers.
Just like customer experience (CX), employee experience (EX) requires thought and planning as well as a technology investment. The CIO has a responsibility to make an impact on EX, with a unique opportunity to advance digital transformation objectives in the process. When a large portion of the workforce was required to transition to work from home, CIOs who had already made advancements in mobile technology, remote access, and collaboration came out looking good.
Those who hadn’t already gotten there found ways to get there quickly. Overall, the pivot to supporting a productive work-from-home workforce was successful, and helped CIOs advance digital transformation efforts; some described it as two years of progress in only two months. Now, that we are settling into a very different environment, we must continue to put priority on the EX, ensuring a good experience for the entire employee lifecycle, from onboarding to exit interview.
Here are five areas where CIOs can promote technology that will improve EX:
They say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The onboarding process is when a new employee first gets an idea of what it will be like to work at your company. If that process is full of outdated technology or manual forms, delays while waiting for approvals, and technology that isn’t set up and ready to go on the first day, then EX is already off to a bad start.
This is an area that is ripe for digital transformation. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Onboarding, and other areas of HR from hiring and performance tracking to off-boarding are already addressed by cloud-based solutions. Monday.com, for instance, provides HR solutions that are easy to use and designed with the goal of providing a quality EX for your employees. IntelliHR and Workday are also excellent choices.
Collaboration and Communication
I’ve often heard it said that remote workers miss out on the “water cooler” talk. That is conversations that pop up when you just happen to run into someone in the hall or coming and going from the office. It’s true that these chance meetings do often result in discussions that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.
Additionally, the discussions that happen in front of a big whiteboard are often the most productive for brainstorming or explaining ideas. People who are working remotely might miss out on that. The trick is to find new ways to facilitate those types of discussions that are so helpful without having to be in the same room. This might be forced on us, by a pandemic that makes it unsafe to be in close proximity, or simply by having multiple office locations across the country or around the world.
It’s not always feasible to fly to another office just to have a productive conversation. Again, technology can help us with this. Microsoft Teams provides good video conferencing, document sharing, and chat, but I haven’t found their Whiteboard solution to be quite ready for widespread adoption. Miro offers a very intuitive tool for collaborating on distributed teams, with a slick whiteboard interface. MURAL also looks promising as a replacement for the physical whiteboard.
Access to Information
An excellent employee experience won’t happen without easy access to the information needed to do a job. Particularly when working remotely, information must be readily available without having to go through convoluted processes to get to it or to find it. Employees have already been exposed to high-quality user experiences in their personal life. Finding information related to shopping, bank accounts, and real estate has gotten so simple and seamless.
Workers will certainly notice if there is a stark contrast between those systems and the ones they use at work. Antiquated tools and user interfaces must be replaced with updated cloud-based or mobile systems that offer the same quality and ease of use that they are used to. Cloud-based tools from companies like Zoho Workplace and Freshdesk are great examples.
One of the best ways to improve an employee’s experience is to automate tedious tasks, freeing up time to focus on more creative that requires their intelligence and can’t be easily done by machine. You can tap into workflow tools such as Microsoft Power Automate, Kissflow or Integrify, robotic process automation (RPA) from companies like UIPath and Automation Anywhere, or dedicated solutions for automating common processes like AP automation from Bill.com or Beanworks. Removing the drudgery of manual tasks will go a long way to improving EX for your workers.
Finally, you must provide ways to help the employee keep the company’s data and property safe, while not putting up roadblocks that make it difficult for them to perform their job. Single Sign-On (SSO) is one technology that allows employees to access multiple systems with the same login, or while on a corporate network to login once on their PC and then not have to login again for the various systems. Auth0 is a popular choice for SSO. Also, providing password vaults such as LastPass or 1Password can help them keep track of multiple logins for those systems that don’t support SSO.
Companies need ways in this current climate to differentiate themselves from the competition. That goes for employees as well as customers. CIOs can help with this effort by bringing technology that provides big improvements to employee experience, contributing to the success of the company as well as showing value from the IT department that goes beyond that of a simple cost center.
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