Is Your Technology Fueling or Foiling the Digital Employee Experience?
Between 2019 and 2021, the number of Americans who primarily work from home tripled, from roughly 9 million to 27.6 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Given this massive growth, the digital employee experience — and the technology that drives it — has become paramount.
“Having an intentional focus on employee experience is so important for companies of any size,” said Ross Greenberg, global employee experience manager at Kaia Health. “From recruitment through an employee's last day at the company, ensuring they are engaged, enabled and comfortable being their full selves at work is paramount to a company's success."
Work-from-home, hybrid and even in-office employees require tech to communicate, collaborate, connect with people inside and outside of the workplace, track tasks, stay focused and much more.
And there's no lack of tech companies to turn to. As of 2021, the average organization used a total of 110 software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, according to Statista. And that number doesn’t account for any licensed or hosted software — or devices — a company may use in additional to these applications.
Let’s dig into some of the top pieces of technology that feed into the digital employee experience.
Outdated Tools Are Slowing Down the Workplace
You can’t use software or SaaS platforms without the right devices. And one mistake that companies often make, according to Peter Strahan, founder and CEO of Lantech, is not offering reliable, functional and up-to-date tech.
“As an IT professional and business person I’m all for remote and hybrid working,” said Strahan, “but I see a lot of businesses that, frankly, just don’t do a very good job of it.”
An employee survey of workplace technology from ZenBusiness backs up this claim, having found that more than 83% of respondents said their computers are outdated, and 71% said their software is out of date.
What’s more, 66% said working with this outdated tech has a moderate to major effect on their ability to be productive, and more than half said it has an impact on their job satisfaction.
“Your remote and hybrid workers can only work as quickly as their device will allow them to, and inefficient tech means inefficient workers,” explained Strahan. “From a business perspective, it makes sense to kit out your employees properly.”
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A 2020 Workable survey revealed that remote onboarding and training was one of the biggest hiring challenges during the pandemic — and it remains a significant challenge to this day.
Good onboarding practices ensure that employees are confident in their roles, increase engagement and productivity, build a stronger company culture and bolster the overall employee experience.
According to Greenberg, investing early in an onboarding platform will also lead to smoother and more successful scaling for organizations.
“I have been with a company as they scaled from approximately 200 to 600 [employees] without any dedicated onboarding platform,” said Greenberg, “and it allowed for so much human error … it was incredibly difficult, stressful and time-consuming.
“Implementing a platform that can help you automate communications and collect and store data is so important, and getting a platform up and running at a smaller scale will allow you to grow your company easier and smoother,” he said.
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Communication & Collaboration Platforms
Communication and collaboration are two essential components of the digital employee experience. In its State of the Global Workplace report for 2022, Gallup found unclear communication from managers was one of the top five causes of employee burnout.
“When technology is the primary means for employees to communicate and work (as with hybrid and remote employees), it becomes the most important part of their job,” said Nabeel Ahmad, adjunct professor at Columbia University and co-founder of changeforce.ai.
Poor digital experiences, Ahmad said, lead to frustration and inability to perform job duties. “Great digital experiences,” however, “enhance productivity and give employees a renewed sense of pride in their work,” he said.
In Ahmad's view, tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack as effective for direct communication and collaboration, as they offer the ability to make voice and video calls, share files, create channels based on specific topics and even integrate other apps and services.
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Project Management Technology
Most employees want to do their jobs well, and good technology is what allows that to happen.
Ahmad says project management tools like Asana and Trello “help employees assign, track and complete work in a streamlined manner. They also have workflow capabilities for repeatable tasks.”
Choosing the right project management technology can improve employee satisfaction, employee retention, work efficiency and, in turn, lead to company growth.
“Better technology solutions can result in a competitive advantage for companies to increase speed to market, develop new products/services and reduce costs,” Ahmad said. “All of these lead to increased profitability.”
Better employee experience through tech also correlates to better customer experience. “Employees can be empowered to make decisions on their own, which can boost morale. In turn, this can lead to more positive customer interactions and help retain customers,” he said.
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Human Resources Software
Beyond the task itself, understanding basic employment information, like payroll, benefits and performance management, is also critical to employee experience.
Organizations can greatly benefit from using a human resource management system (HRMS) — such as Workday or BambooHR — to enable employees to access these basic needs. Lack of such systems can not only be demotivating for employees but also a significant strain on managers and HR teams, Ahmad noted.
Most human resources software includes features for recruitment and hiring, an employee portal, time tracking and leave management, performance evaluation, benefits administration and talent retention.
According to Statista, SaaS solutions are the most popular HRMS option for business, regardless of size — followed by licensed software. As of 2019, 57% of large organizations and 73% of small and medium organizations used an SaaS HRMS.
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Technology Drives the Digital Employee Experience
In today’s digitally focused world, you can’t achieve an exceptional employee experience without the right technology.
If you’re looking to implement new technology in your workplace — or upgrade your current setup — don’t forget to ask for your employees’ input. Ask about their preferences, including what technology and platforms they’re most comfortable with. This question could even be used during the interview process.
Ultimately, your employees have the most to gain — and the most to lose – from your tech setup. Keep them at the heart of your decisions when it comes to choosing devices and solutions.
About the Author
Michelle Hawley is an experienced journalist who specializes in reporting on the impact of technology on society. As a senior editor at Simpler Media Group and a reporter for CMSWire and Reworked, she provides in-depth coverage of a range of important topics including employee experience, leadership, customer experience, marketing and more. With an MFA in creative writing and background in inbound marketing, she offers unique insights on the topics of leadership, customer experience, marketing and employee experience. Michelle previously contributed to publications like The Press Enterprise and The Ladders. She currently resides in Pennsylvania with her two dogs.