Mary Kaplan: Improving the Employee Lifecycle Through Technology
There are numerous tools and apps available to help workers find what they need, but employees don’t always know where to look for certain information. Having a centralized location for resources can help with productivity, as well as reduce friction in daily work.
“If people are working from home most of the time, your work life becomes your computer screen. Your digital tools have so much more importance than when you were in an office setting,” said Mary Kaplan, product marketing manager at LumApps.
LumApps is a global employee experience platform company and a sponsor of Reworked's Digital Workplace Experience (DWX) Conference, which took place Aug. 3-Aug. 4. We followed up on LumApps' session by speaking with Mary Kaplan, product marketing manager at LumApps, about how technology can help guide the employee lifecycle.
The Digital Employee Lifecycle
Simpler Media Group: For those unfamiliar, can you share an overview of what the employee lifecycle is and what it means to you?
Mary Kaplan: At its most basic, I think the employee lifecycle is the stages that an employee has during their tenure at a company. It’s the steps that they go through as they engage with their company. Typically the employee lifecycle starts out at recruitment (or even before that), then moves to onboarding, retention, and eventually separation.
At LumApps we think the largest misconception regarding employee experience is that the employee lifecycle is linear. We do see it as more of a roller coaster. There could be moments of really high engagement and participation, and then it drops off. Those tend to coincide with key moments. It could be things like you’re changing positions, or you’re changing the way you work — in office or hybrid — or going on leave or coming back from a leave. Any of those key moments are a battle for attention, and engagement.
SMG: Why are digital workplace experiences important to the employee lifecycle?
Kaplan: Making sure employees have the right tools and that the tools are easy to use are always important to the employee. The right digital tools of course can promote productivity, but more importantly they can often promote collaboration, knowledge sharing and opportunities to advance in their careers at their companies.
It’s not often one tool that rules them all anymore. It’s not just the intranet you go to for everything. That’s why it’s called the digital workplace because it’s deeply connected to other tools you use. It allows all users to share information and for you to find it easily, as well.
Obstacles to Optimizing the Digital Workplace Experience
SMG: What are the biggest obstacles to creating and delivering on digital workplace experience goals?
Kaplan: I think sometimes the hardest part is where do we start? What goals are important to us?
The key for measuring progress and success is that it depends on your company. Some might only measure success based on views on a page or news item. For others, it could be about the adoption of the tool. For others, it’s about cutting down on email. Others want to tie it to employee enablement.
Evaluate what really makes sense at your company and which problems you’re trying to solve. And everything inside of LumApps is trackable and measurable.
The next obstacle is to make sure you have the technology to meet those goals.
Oftentimes adoption is noted as an obstacle, that employees aren’t using new tools, or not as frequently as they want to. For that we usually recommend a champions program, a diverse group of leaders from across the company who are chosen to use the tool on a weekly basis, and will organically promote the use of the tool with their teams and circles of influence.
SMG: What advice do you have for organizations who want to overhaul their workplace experience as part of a digital transformation initiative, but aren’t sure where to begin?
Kaplan: You don’t have to do everything all at once! You can start small, and you can make changes at a pace that’s right for your organization.
Schnucks, a Midwest grocery chain, was originally just looking for a corporate portal where news and information could live. Because at that time, four years ago, things were living on paper on a bulletin board, via email and a few applications. They were having a real problem with communications.
They selected LumApps as their digital portal. At the time, it was totally top down, with the comms team or other departments pushing out information and news for employees to consume.
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Now, as we’ve been on the journey with them, they’ve slowly begun to roll out more of our product modules. Each Schnucks location can share with each other a photograph of a display for different promotions, contests and other things to get employees more involved and sharing.
It has been cool to grow with them as their company matures in how much they want to implement these digital tools for different needs. But I think it highlights that you don’t have to start with everything all at once.
SMG: Where do you see the biggest gaps between the optimal digital workplace experience and reality?
Kaplan: The biggest gaps tend to be around access for all employees, so not leaving any population of employees out. You can’t just optimize the experience for in-office employees, you have to think about hybrid, remote, on-the-go and frontline employees too.
So that means optimizing the mobile experience. Applications or responsiveness, it depends on what makes sense for your company.
And also, don’t make it a one-way street. It’s not about the digital tools and how you push out information, but also allowing for the feedback and engagement for peer-to-peer collaboration.
Centering the Employee
SMG: Why are companies missing the mark, and how can they do better?
Kaplan: I would challenge each company to really design their digital workplace experience with the employee in mind. Are you really creating an experience that is easy to use, engaging, not frustrating for your employees to get what they need? An employee has to be able to get work done and their digital workplace needs to aid them in getting their work done, but it also has to be a reflection of your company culture.
And make sure you promote it as a place where your employees are encouraged to share, encouraged to be themselves, and encouraged to promote each other. It’s simple to set up, but use cases are things like kudos corners or shout-outs. You can broadcast D&I initiatives or green initiatives right on the homepage.
I’d say that companies are missing the mark and how they can do better: Always design your digital workplace experience with your employee in mind, think about the content they’d like to see, in addition to what they need to see, and make it a place where people want to be. If people are working from home most of the time, your work life becomes your computer screen. Your digital tools have so much more importance than when you were in an office setting.
SMG: What are you watching or following these days?
Kaplan: I follow Josh Bersin. I think HR, more than ever, has increased its role in digital experience, improving onboarding processes and engagement and things like that. A lot of times our HR leaders and comms leaders nowadays are being tasked with being IT leaders because so much of it is online. I love to watch that intersection.
I just read Brené Brown’s recent book “Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience.” I think she’s just incredible and so open and vulnerable. With some of her work, how can we apply it to treating coworkers with a little more respect? Treating ourselves with more respect and grace for ourselves. I found that impactful.
Watch this DWX session on demand here.