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Digital Workplace Success Isn't About the Tools, It's About Employee Value

August 11, 2020 Leadership
Juanita Olguin
By Juanita Olguin

A successful digital workplace has very little to do with the technology being used and everything to do with the sentiment and attitude towards employee value.

Technology can now solve for nearly any of our digital workplace challenges. Intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and robotic process automation (RPA) exist to help remove repetitive tasks and to augment our human intelligence. Traditional business application suites have now moved to the cloud to support working on-the-go and provide employees access to their work from wherever they are located. Geolocation services can now help find the best resources or experts to address needs.

So with technology overwhelmingly abundant and capable of helping to solve for all manner of digital workplace needs, why doesn’t or hasn’t it … yet?

Internal vs. External Needs

The reality is, companies and leadership tend to prioritize the customer experience over the employee experience. It’s much easier to solve for an external need than it is to properly solve for an internal one. Internal needs aren’t given as much priority and are thought to be secondary to revenue-generating activities.

This business view of prioritizing the external has parallels with the world of health and wellness — where society places more significance on an external focus, rather than addressing internal needs that are paramount to an individual’s well-being and therefore, performance.

If we consider both the business and individual focus on the external vs. internal, we can expect a large gap in capacity and wherewithal to emerge. For companies, this means that if employees aren’t truly valued, they aren't being invested in and given the best tools and resources to help them perform at a high level. For employees, this means if internal wellness needs aren’t meant, the motivation, drive and desire to achieve excellence simply won’t exist. Adding these two perspectives together, if internal needs remain unaddressed, then the output is unmotivated employees who are ill-equipped, unengaged and still expected to deliver world-class customer service.

Related Article: The Intersection of Employee Experience and Customer Experience

Work Has an Outsized Impact on Our Lives

Whether we realize it or not, in the western world, work has a significant impact on our lives — more than we probably would like to admit. The influence our employer has on our overall experience is larger than we may realize. We simply can’t decouple a bad work experience from a bad personal experience because of the intricate links between the two. We spend a large part of our lives at work (exactly one third if you're working an 8-hour day); we rely on work for our health benefits (medical, dental, life & disability, etc.); and still for many, work gives our lives meaning and purpose.

While the optical sentiment towards the internal employee experience is changing with top firms such as Google, Coca-Cola and Sage hiring “Head of People Operations” or “Chief People Officers,” this focus needs to extend throughout an organization’s culture, management behaviors and attitudes toward employees.

Related Article: What You Can Do to Strengthen Company Culture in Times of Crisis

Do Your Actions Align With Your Stated Promise?

Companies have a great deal of power and influence on the output generated by employees. Great things can come from small resource investments. However, technology does not operate in isolation. Even the best technology investments cannot solve for a company culture that doesn’t truly value its employees. Employees are very aware of the sentiment towards them and have a choice to make in how they implement, use and adopt technology within the company.

The success of your digital workplace is directly tied to the sentiment towards your employees. Therefore, ask yourself: how much do you value your employees and do the behaviors in your company align with that value?

About the Author

Juanita Olguin is a product marketing leader and workplace enthusiast who has worked for Fortune 500, startup and nonprofit organizations across key workplace categories including: employee productivity, knowledge / content management, digital workplace, AI and employee experience. She is currently enterprise lead at Culture Amp and on a mission to help companies make sense of their HR tech stack and employee experience needs.


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