Employees are the backbone of your company. With the pace of business moving as fast as it is, employee needs are also constantly changing. And a massive part of these needs are facilitated through technology.
For instance, a Qualtrics survey reported that 38% of employees risk burnout due to inefficient work processes. And when only 63% of employees feel that current technology, such as new automation software, allows them to be productive, a huge part of your investment is going to waste.
As your internal digital ecosystem grows, so should your ability to offer an excellent digital experience. This is where the need to devise a digital employee experience strategy comes in.
We’ll explore the concept of digital employee experience (DEX), the benefits of creating a dedicated DEX strategy, and how you can create one for your organization.
What is the digital employee experience?
Digital employee experience (DEX) refers to the experience that employees have with varying technologies within the company. It falls at the intersection of technology, design, and human centricity.
Many tasks that employees have are manual and time-consuming. For example, if you're conducting a training session, you must create invites, send them to relevant employees, monitor registrations, and so on. But with the various training tools available today, you can automate a significant portion of this process.
That being said, how well new digital tools work within the current workflows of your company and the value your employees are getting out of them is often overlooked.
And this is what a DEX strategy fixes. Its goal is to allow employees to maximize investment in these tools, leading to better digital experiences. In addition, it also creates a solid alignment between IT teams and other employees.
What challenges do employees face with DEX initiatives?
The challenges that employees face in this context are two-fold. They either have issues with the tools themselves or adapting to DEX initiatives. Here's a list of common issues:
Change management is hard to navigate
When employees have to deal with new tools and technologies, it’s often initially disruptive. Change management is a challenge due to resistance and apprehension.
Also, if you push too many changes at once or at short intervals, employees will eventually face change fatigue. Ultimately, it results in a lack of adoption throughout the organization. Forrester recommends using a cross-functional team approach to get buy-in before implementation.
Lack of buy-in from leadership
There's a lot of difference between what leadership thinks is necessary and what employees need. For instance, leaders might think the new hires are trained in Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) before working in the hospital, but that might not be the case. New hires might need to be trained or updated on newer regulations.
Plus, leadership may have approved the implementation of tools during an old initiative. But if the profitability wasn’t apparent, that reduces their confidence in such tools and strategies. So getting approval from executive leadership for a DEX strategy would be a bigger mountain to climb.
Massive skill gaps disrupt the process
The goal of DEX is to improve digital skill competency. However, employees don't have the skills to navigate these tools yet, so implementing training and development programs that allow them to use them effectively is crucial.
However, three issues can prevent these from running smoothly:
- Lack of time to take these onboarding and training sessions
- Not understanding the need for such tools yet due to a lack of education on the topic
- Overestimating their current skill set, which hinders the adoption process
Young Pham, a project manager at BizReport, says, “One of the key challenges we have often had is generating enough feedback to fine-tune the strategy and address the pain points of all employees. While some employees are typically open to the idea of sharing feedback, others are not always forthcoming.”
That's why aligning leadership and employees with the organization's digital transformation goals is essential.
Integrating tools with existing infrastructure
Most digital workplaces already have an established structure, especially if they've been in business for several years. So when you add new technologies to the mix, product adoption is problematic because it doesn't integrate well with what you already have.
Some of the challenges include compatibility issues, data security concerns, and scalability requirements. So adoption will remain an issue unless your tools offer these options.
Lack of communication and alignment
Nobody likes it when management randomly pushes a new technology or process without communicating with employees first. For example, if a financial analyst is asked to switch from Tableau to Looker without any reason, getting buy-in will be tough.
So unless you get feedback initially and implement technologies your employees will truly benefit from, your DEX strategy can fall flat on its face.
Change is hard, so it’s important to remember there’s only so much you can do to convince people.
“Change will always bring compromise, even if the results are more positive in the long term,” Stanislav Khilobochenko, vice president of customer service at Clario, says. “Some people just don't like change and would rather tolerate problems than adapt to a new way of doing things. Something that improves the digital experience of one group of employees may feel like a step backward for others.”
What are the benefits of a great digital employee experience?
The benefits of an excellent DEX strategy go beyond better employee satisfaction levels. Here are a few advantages of investing in such a strategy:
Employee engagement increases: DEX allows for more engagement as these tools help employees connect more effectively. As employees have access to the tools they need to do their job, they’ll be more satisfied with the company too. For instance, if your team needs a shared wiki to manage the growing documentation library, investing in such a product would show them that you care about their needs. This results in higher engagement and satisfaction levels.
- Employees feel more productive and are likelier to stay: A Gartner report found that organizations that succeed at connecting employees to the company culture observe an increase in performance by 37% and retention by 36%. And this happens as hybrid work culture shrinks ecosystems. Employees form their own microcultures, fostering better connectedness. Also, digital cultures allow them to be more efficient in their work, saving them time and effort with every task.
- Employees collaborate more often: With technology, knowledge is no longer limited to a specific individual or team. Digital tools open up many avenues for collaboration, and many are available, such as project management platforms, employee intranets, or coworking platforms. A shareable dashboard, for example, creates more visibility throughout instead of convening an in-person/online meeting for simple data analysis.
- Better access to learning and development opportunities: Previously, development and training opportunities were limited to in-person sessions, making them expensive and inaccessible. With digital tools, you can avoid these roadblocks. For instance, theoretical medical courses can be delivered through self-paced sessions now. Or you can offer customized learning paths, too, depending on the level of employee’s expertise.
- Offer stronger digital customer experiences: A CMSWire report found that 33% of business leaders think there's a strong link between customer and employee experience. This occurs as employees have more opportunities to share information with different team members internally, making it easier to offer the same information to customers. For example, accounting tools enable finance professionals to consolidate data from multiple sources in one place. It makes reporting that data to the customer a more straightforward process.
What are the components of a typical digital employee experience?
You can only create a positive DEX when you have the right mix of components in place:
Strong understanding of how employees interact
You must truly understand your employees' needs and how they interact with workplace technology to create a seamless experience.
This process includes studying business processes, conducting one-on-one interviews, and sending pulse surveys to get a complete picture of the problem. It'll help you tailor the DEX strategy to their actual needs instead of your assumptions.
Seamless technological experience across the board
You need to work toward a seamless experience across teams and throughout the organization. And this means a good relationship with the IT department as well.
You can use tools accessed through a single dashboard or integrate with familiar applications like Google Workspace. This improves efficiency, reduces frustration, and promotes productivity.
Choosing the right mix of tools for the organization
You should assess needs at individual employee, team, and organization levels. This will let you identify tools that align with the culture and objectives you're trying to achieve.
Here’s a list of tools you might need:
- Productivity tools like project management, analytics, and workflow automation
- Collaboration tools for external and internal communication
- Workforce management tools for human resources and people operations
- Learning and development platforms to deliver regular training sessions
- Department-specific tools, such as Google Analytics for marketing
For example, regularly surveying your employees is an excellent idea if you want to increase engagement at the organizational level and during training sessions. For this, you can invest in a tool like Poll Everywhere that integrates with existing tools and makes it easy to deploy surveys.
The chosen tools should enhance productivity, facilitate collaboration, and align with the organization's digital ecosystem.
Self-service capabilities that align with employees' skillset
Self-service capabilities empower employees to access information, perform tasks, and resolve issues independently.
Normand Chevrette, president & CEO of CME Corp, says, “We prioritize implementing self-service options for tasks like leave management and benefits enrollment. This means giving our employees the tools and resources to handle these tasks themselves.”
Chevrette also notes that this approach saves time for all stakeholders by helping them take charge of their own experience.
Personalized and robust training programs for adoption
Create training programs that teach your employees how to use the tool.
For example, if you’re rolling out a new electronic health record (EHR) system, conduct onboarding and training sessions to get them up to speed. Otherwise, they’ll have a hard time coping with it, leading to a loss of investment and resources.
Additionally, equip them with the information for technical support. Let them know where and when to expect help and what issues to report. For instance, whether they get real-time support or have access to knowledge centers.
How to create an engaging digital employee experience?
Creating a DEX strategy involves a systematic approach to drive improvement:
1. Assess the current DEX landscape
Conduct a thorough assessment of your internal digital ecosystem. Map the employee journey and categorize them into three segments:
- New hires with no previous knowledge of the company’s systems
- Tech-savvy employees who are already familiar with tools
- Employees who are resistant to change and digital adoption
Khilobochenko says he usually starts with 360-degree feedback to do a lay-of-the-land assessment.
“We want to know what is currently working and what needs to be adjusted,” Khilobochenko says. “This is only possible if we facilitate true reciprocal feedback. We may find out about new tools, new friction points, and possibly new [standard operating procedures] that make the overall employee experience more positive, healthy, and productive. This is non-negotiable in a digital work environment.”
Use a survey tool to get qualitative feedback from employees and leadership. Make sure it’s anonymous so you get honest and unfiltered feedback from them.
2. Define DEX objectives
Convene with leadership to establish a clear vision for your DEX strategy. It could be that previous DEX initiatives have created a marked increase in productivity or customer satisfaction, and you want to replicate that throughout the organization.
It's best to create an interdepartmental task force that puts their point of view forward. You can refine and decide on the end goal based on the collective input. This will let you get buy-in from leadership and employees, as everybody will be aligned on the overarching goal.
Plus, it will allow you to create time-bound key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine success. For instance, if the number of IT help desk tickets reduces by 25% in two weeks after the EHR training, you know that you can create a better transition to a new system.
3. Refine your change management approach
Employees want to know why and when a specific change is being made. This information helps them view the change from an organizational perspective rather than an individual one.
Let's say you use a customized dashboard on software like Google Data Studio to create financial reports, but now you want to switch to purpose-built software for analysts. There are several answers you need to arm your employees with:
- Why the change, and why now?
- What is the expected ROI (return on investment) of this tool?
- What does the tool look like?
- What does the onboarding process look like?
- How long will they have before they’re expected to get up to speed?
In addition, you can also send a pulse survey to allow them to ask questions or offer suggestions. Involving them in the process gets them interested and improves employee sentiment.
4. Create a feedback loop
Establish mechanisms to gather feedback from employees regarding their digital experience regularly. This can be achieved through employee surveys, suggestion boxes, digital feedback channels and one-on-one interviews.
“Internally, we keep tabs on feedback through employee satisfaction surveys and good old-fashioned feedback sessions,” Chevrette says. “We pay attention to the satisfaction scores and any suggestions for improvement. We also track how many employees are jumping on board with the self-service tools and how much they're using them.
“Plus, we take note of how many HR-related questions we're getting. All these metrics give us a sense of how well our digital employee experience strategy is working and help us fine-tune things for an even better experience.”
You can use Poll Everywhere Activities to do this with ease. Pick an Activity type (like a Survey), create your questions, and send the response link via email or directly in your messaging platforms like Slack. Employees are incentivized to answer as you can set responses to be anonymous, and the reporting feature allows you to access all the feedback in one place.
5. Use the feedback to manage your IT portfolio
Poor product adoption sometimes makes it difficult to understand if the investment was worth it. But sometimes, the digital employee experience tools might not be helpful.
You must continuously check in with your employees at multiple touchpoints to determine the reality. Do it before the implementation, during the onboarding, and periodically after that. Doing so gives you an in-depth look into what works and doesn't.
For example, you might implement a collaboration tool like Slack, but many employees say they find it hard to use; either you need more training materials or a simpler alternative. Qualitative feedback will help you identify the actual roadblock.
Over time, you can create a portfolio of tools that support the organization as you intended. The ideal mix would have tools that are:
- High impact but take longer to implement
- Low impact but easy to implement
- Very high impact but difficult to invest in or implement
Lean in on employee feedback to create a supportive DEX strategy
As hybrid and remote work is on the rise, a DEX strategy is not an indulgence anymore. You'll build a future-ready workforce by creating a strategy that aligns with your employees' needs and organizational goals. Also, it creates an excellent end-user experience throughout the employee lifecycle.
If you need a tool to help you assess the current state of your DEX strategy, Poll Everywhere would be the perfect fit for this purpose. There are several ways you can use our easy-to-use digital employee experience tool:
- Gather in-depth and anonymous qualitative feedback from employees and leadership with Surveys
- Gauge attention and engagement during training sessions with Word clouds or Clickable image Activities
- Create an open backchannel to receive questions about tools or the DEX strategy with a Pinned Q&A
- Grade employee responses during self-paced training sessions for performance management with Multiple Choice questions
These features allow you to holistically monitor if you're hitting your DEX KPIs and if your investment is paying off. Even though creating a positive DEX is a matter of trial and error, you can get there faster with the right tools.
Schedule a free demo with Poll Everywhere today to understand its surveying and reporting capabilities.