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GuidesEmployee experienceUnderstanding the digital employee experience

Understanding the digital employee experience

Last updated

15 July 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Lara Leganger

With the rise of remote and hybrid work, the digital employee experience has gained more significance. While all workers can work from the comfort of their homes or coffee shops, top talents are drawn to a positive digital experience.

The digital employee experience (DEX) shows how enabled your employees are to do their jobs on-site, at home, or in two working environments. Have you ever wondered how your employees feel about the digital tools they use in the workplace? For employees to be productive, an organization requires a well-built digital workspace. And this starts with having a comprehensive knowledge of DEX and how it enhances employee satisfaction and engagement.

This article will help you understand more about DEX, including what it is, why it's important, the challenges your employees might experience, and how to improve it to support your organization's success.

What is the digital employee experience?

The digital employee experience is the employees' feelings and perceptions of how they interact with the digital tools they use to do their jobs. It’s how your employees engage with and use technologies or software tools.

DEX includes working with technologies for:

  • Workflow and productivity: These are tools employees use to do their jobs, such as customer service, finance, analytics, project management, and marketing.

  • Communication and collaboration: These tools include email, instant messaging, and phone calls, as well as internal communications platforms, video conferencing, and whiteboarding.

  • Learning and development systems: This includes training and professional development.

  • Human resource (HR) and talent management systems: These workforce management systems offer employees self-service access to human resource-related information. For example, employees can check wellness programs, company policies, compensation, performance management, and company benefits.

Employees are used to performing personal tasks with seamless technology and expect the same digital ease at work. Therefore, a negative digital experience can significantly lower their productivity.

Why is the digital employee experience important?

DEX is important because it influences each stage of your employee's life cycle, from recruitment to onboarding. It improves performance and can even affect whether employees return to an organization after they leave. More importantly, it ensures that your staff feel listened to and appreciated and can perform their role effectively.

Overall, DEX is at the heart of any successful organization. A safe, secure, and inclusive DEX can result in high worker satisfaction and engagement and, in turn, improved production.

What can impact the employee's digital experience?

While various factors can impact the employee digital experience, most businesses face issues like:

Major incidents taking too long to resolve

Information technology (IT) teams can help facilitate the best DEX. However, IT teams need to ensure they’re up-to-date with today's rapid digital transformation and complex technology. 

With limited budgets for DEX programs and the rise of hybrid work environments where employees operate from various devices, IT teams may take too long to resolve major incidents. This leads to inefficiency and unproductivity among your staff, reducing their DEX.

IT teams lack visibility into the problems employees face

Another issue is understanding your employees' problems and what they need to succeed. Many organizational leaders don't understand these issues because of a lack of visibility into individual workflows. 

As such, your organization's departments, like IT and other relevant departments, must collaborate to develop a comprehensive experience that allows employees to stay connected, engaged, and productive.

Examples of great digital employee experience

Employees interact with technology to help shape their perspectives, sentiments, and overall work experience. That's why we'll draw DEX examples from some critical areas, including training, onboarding, and the organization's operations.

Here are some great DEX examples:

Onboarding

Artificial intelligence (AI) can automate data entry, enabling the HR staff to focus on important higher-level tasks. Also, AI can hide certain personal information from recruiters, allowing blind candidate selection based on experience and skill, which reduces bias and improves DEX.

Training

A digital adoption platform (DAP) can offer personalized features, such as language preference and features for remote, hybrid, and on-premise staff, allowing employees to learn new technologies according to their preferences.

Operations

Your IT team can use various metrics to measure employees' performance. It can benefit the organization if the IT team uses these metrics as supportive tools and informs staff when they're achieving expectations and when they're not.

These DEX examples can help your business in several ways, including identifying success and making the necessary changes to reap the benefits.

Benefits of good digital employee experience

According to a recent study by Microsoft and Qualtrics, employees can achieve 15% more at work and are 121% more likely to feel valued with businesses that offer them good DEX. This demonstrates that IT is crucial in influencing employee satisfaction and productivity. 

Businesses can benefit from DEX in the following ways:

Better engagement and retention

Digital tools support engagement in various ways, like enabling open communication and interaction and making it easy for your employees to share ideas and feedback. 

When your organization's digital tools allow employees to fulfill their roles, their engagement increases, making them less likely to consider leaving your company. As a result, this leads to higher retention, whether the staff work in-office, remotely, or in hybrid work environments.

Improved productivity and performance

Providing your employees with digital tools that are simple and consistently easy to use will boost their productivity. In contrast, complex, clunky hardware and slow internal systems can frustrate employees and eventually cause them to disengage. 

Giving your employees the right tools motivates and empowers them to do an excellent job because they're less frustrated by technological woes and have a better mental frame of mind to work.

Easier access to learning and development

A positive DEX makes learning and development more accessible—employees can access suitable digital tools that make their work seamless. Investing in learning and development programs can help you engage your workforce and promote career growth and development.

More support for hybrid and remote workers

According to a Gartner poll of over 3,900 hybrid and remote employees, only one in four feels connected to their business's culture. A well-designed DEX can help build and sustain an organizational culture. By providing your employees with easy-to-use digital tools, you help them do their jobs well, including in hybrid work environments.

An excellent digital experience can also support all virtual team-building programs because digital tools can help promote meaningful connections between team members.

How to improve the digital employee experience

To improve the digital employee experience, follow these key steps:

Step 1: Develop personas and define employee journeys for the DEX

You can develop personas for staff like new employees, technophiles, and technophobes. Different employee segments will interact with technology in different ways. That's why you should understand employee personas and how they learn and use digital tools to create a great employee experience.

Step 2: Establish a thoughtful, repeatable approach to change management

Enforcing change in an organization sometimes creates uncertainty, which also causes stress. But a consistent change management path can help your staff adopt technological changes and support your company's digital transformation efforts.

Step 3: Incorporate cross-functional teams to optimize workflows

Consider an example of implementing a procurement system in a company. Without enough input from multiple functions such as purchasing, legal, and the business, the system can end up with workflows leaning heavily on one particular function, leading to bottlenecks, cumbersome processes, and poor DEX.

Step 4: Create platforms for your target audience

Design platforms or systems with your employees’ desired experience in mind rather than basing your design on the processes they will support. A design thinking approach that identifies employee pain points and focuses on their job rather than the steps in a pre-existing process is a great way to keep your staff at the center of DEX.

Step 5: Establish KPIs that measure what you want to achieve

Certain operational metrics, such as deployment time, downtime, and ticket resolution, are essential when delivering an excellent digital employee experience. However, thinking about the digital experiences you're trying to push through these operational metrics is also important.

You want employees to perceive the digital technology as reliable, experience minimal disruption through significant deployments, and be happy with their ticket resolution time. The operational metrics measure whether your employees conduct their tasks as planned, while the experience metrics measure whether they feel empowered by the services they get.

Step 6: Encourage decentralized ideation but centralized vetting and prioritization of ideas

Encourage your employees to create and work on ideas while you use a consistent design for how those ideas will eventually change into products and projects. 

For instance, set a deadline for them to come up with ideas, then collect and organize all of those ideas to design an efficient DEX. You can achieve this by forming a cross-functional team of employees whose primary task is to generate new ideas.

Step 7: Manage IT investments like venture capital portfolio

You can manage IT investments like a venture capital portfolio. You can do this by implementing a healthy combination of blue-chip investments (high feasibility, high impact, and lengthy implementation), moon shots (low feasibility but a high impact), and quick wins (a lower impact but high feasibility and a short implementation period).

DEX adoption challenges

Organizational change and the complexity of employees' needs are evolving fast. As a result, adopting DEX can be challenging for most businesses. They tend to experience challenges like:

Taking on a technical scale and complexity

As your company grows and scales, so does your digital environment. This depends on various factors such as expectations, size, industry, etc. In most cases, employees use several digital tools to do their work. You can enlist IT leaders to help ensure you're investing in compatible technology to ease your staff's job.

Managing cultural change

DEX can be challenging to adopt because it involves a cross-functional approach to the digital experience. This means involving various departments in your organization, like IT and HR, to plan and implement improvements to the digital employee experience. Otherwise, you may end up with disconnected departments that don't work well together, which creates collaboration barriers across the company and eventually affects its culture. 

In addition, you should be careful not to push too much change at once because employees may already experience change fatigue, especially in technology.

Gaining leadership buy-in

Implementing new technology in an organization can be expensive. Some organizations may have already invested in failed solutions that didn't meet their expectations. Furthermore, internal digital tools must compete with external-facing projects. 

You can show the direct correlation between the systems working and winning financial buy-in for specific improvements. Also, focus on the value of employee engagement and retention.

The lowdown

The digital employee experience plays a significant role in shaping organizational culture and productivity. Notably, a positive digital experience enhances employee engagement and satisfaction. 

There's no denying that you'll have to invest a lot in optimizing the DEX. But it’s worth your time and resources. An improved digital employee experience can boost communication, foster innovation, and provide growth opportunities for your business.

FAQs

How do you engage employees digitally?

There are four steps you can take to engage your employees digitally:

  1. Identify key users and their needs: First, you need to identify the primary users, their roles, and what they need to perform their jobs efficiently.

  2. Identify user benefit: Explain to your employees how the change will help them focus on meaningful tasks and create a vision that will resonate with them.

  3. Set up a communication and training plan: Find the best way to communicate with the employees to keep them involved. Setting up a good training program also ensures the employees will work with the tool efficiently and experience the benefits.

  4. Continuously improve: Once the staff begin using the software, continuously collect feedback to improve the solution.

Who owns digital workplace experience?

The digital workplace experience, or digital employee experience, can be an HR or IT consideration. On the one hand, HR is the natural leader of employee experience programs, while on the other, IT is the natural owner of workplace software and technology.

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