A Digital Workplace promises to empower employees to be more productive and efficient across locations and devices with the goal to enable workers to access information and applications they need to perform their jobs in more collaborative, productive, and social ways. For many organizations this means moving applications and services to the cloud and digitizing everything with a focus on improving processes or making employees' lives easier. The irony is that many times this process of embarking on a digital workplace strategy ends up creating an overly complex and siloed experience for employees.
One common mistake we often see is executives from various departments whether it be IT, HR, Communications, or Finance have focused on finding the best tool, application, and strategy for their individual (key here is individual) department and haven't taken a step back to see how it may impact the overall employee experience across the organization.
The reality is employees now have an overwhelming amount of applications to login to, notifications to manage, approvals to action, and messages to read. This complexity has created massive productivity burdens and failures. In this blog, we'll take a look at 5 signs your current digital workplace may actually be hurting your employee experience.
Are employees missing important communications? If you're an employee in HR, you probably scratch your head each year when an employee complains they've missed the benefit enrollment period despite the numerous communications sent out across various channels to alert employees about the upcoming deadline.
(According to a survey conducted by Cornerstone)
The majority of systems used by employees send alerts for various triggers (e.g., each time something is changed, commented on, liked, newly created, etc.). The mass amount of notifications flooding inboxes forces employees to ignore notifications, filter out notifications, and create other workarounds to not get bogged down with notifications and communications. It's exactly like the well-known idiom, crying wolf, after too many irrelevant messages land in your inbox, employees will start to ignore every other communication moving forward from that system of record - causing important communications or notifications to be missed.
Many systems in the enterprise still do not support Single Sign-on (SSO), requiring employees to manually type their username and password over and over. Even if the system does support SSO, sometimes an enterprise-wide SSO solution is not inclusive of all users, apps, and devices across the organization. For example, HR may have implemented a cloud-based training system that uses an identification number and password for authentication, finance may have procured an expense system that uses an email address and password, and another systems may use active directory credentials to authenticate users. If SSO isn't available and the employee does not access the system on a regular basis they will forget the username and password, causing employee frustration, wasted time, and an overload on IT support help desk.
Are there unnecessary delays across your organization from approvals not getting actioned in a timely manner? Moving from paper-based workflows to digitized workflows are supposed to speed up approvals and make approvals more efficient. So what has happened? Just like important communications, managers lose approvals among other emails, blocking important request from being completed and causing unnecessary delays. So what's wrong with most approval requests?
Many approval workflows are triggered with email notifications, those same email notifications that are buried in inboxes. Furthermore, the emails are just notifications, the user still has to proceed to click on a link, login to the system of record, and perform additional clicks to actually resolve the approval. Now you're asking, what about mobile applications? Yes, many cloud applications have introduced convenient mobile applications to minimize this process; however, if your organization has dozens of systems then that would require a manager to download 10-12 different mobile applications on their device and monitor the applications for alerts and badge notifications.
(According to a survey conducted by Cornerstone)
Is your IT help desk and HR call center bogged down with questions on where to find information from time off requests, on boarding documents, training documents, IT support ticketing information, etc.?
The problem is most companies have actually failed to achieve what they've set out to do with their digital workplace strategy and now they've made it harder for employees to manage their own information, not easier. In fact, A McKinsey research report found that high-lever knowledge workers spend approximately 20 percent of their time searching for and gathering information.
Employees don't have a single tool to ask basic employee questions like: "What is the time off policy?", "What's on the lunch menu?" or "How do I report a system outage?" When an employee gets overwhelmed trying to find information they'll most likely just quit looking or may find it easier to ask another employee.
Do employees dread accessing the intranet? With an overwhelming amount of content, employees usually don't actually stop and read intranet content. The communications are not personalized enough for employees. Content on the intranet must resonate with your employees or they will quickly train themselves to gloss over the homepage or get discouraged from using it. So why are intranet adoption rates so low? Many intranets suffer from poor search capabilities, difficult navigations, poor user experiences, stale content and more which all equates to employees no longer generating value from the intranet.
So why do digital workplace programs often fail? Most are due to a fragmented and siloed approach that doesn't align to a business strategy. The good news is most of these pitfalls are solvable - your intranet or digital workplace is not doomed forever! To be successful, a digital workplace strategy can't be built in a tunnel, it must be part of a wider business strategy.
Rather than working with each individual technology partner from Office 365, ServiceNow, ADP, Kronos, Jira, Slack, etc. and rolling out their cloud-based version, mobile application, or chatbot, find ways to integrate the data and content from these services into a unified platform, your digital workplace. But before you create content chaos, remember different employees have different needs. Ensure you're leveraging an intelligent core that can learn and understand who employees are and their needs contextually to provide the right information at the right time across any device. As we see new technologies become more prominent in our personal lives such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, virtual assistants, and virtual reality, it's only a matter of time when we will see these new opportunities start to dramatically evolve the digital workplace to the intelligent workplace.
Take a look at your digital workplace and think about your business strategy and how you can align your digital workplace to helping your employees achieve specific goals aligning to those strategies. Do you want to simplify your employees' day, do you want sales to increase their numbers, retail associates to provide better customer experience, etc. What's the number one thing that's going to make a difference to employees? Focus on these specific goals aligning to business cases and map out what it would take to reach these goals. Start small and make incremental improvements.
Want to learn more about the intelligent workplace? Check out An Introduction to the Intelligent Workplace