jumping between two platforms
PHOTO: Jakob Owens

There’s a lot of good work being done within organizations to improve staff engagement and to help employees be more productive. The problem is that two different groups — human resources and IT — are spearheading these initiatives, and too often they don’t align.

This is where digital employee experience comes in: It helps to bridge the divide between human resources (HR) and IT. Within a focus on the employee experience, the desire to improve staff engagement can be lined up with the deployment of new tools such as Office 365. Then both employers and employees will see the benefits.

Related Article: What Does Employee Experience Really Mean?

It’s About Employee Experience

Employee experience is a hot topic at the moment. It focuses on tackling employee engagement, as well as recognizing that it’s impossible to deliver a great customer experience without first addressing employee needs.

Employee experience initiatives are being driven almost exclusively by HR. There is also a push to tackle employee experience coming from some of the large professional services firms.

For example, in an article titled “The Employee Experience: Culture, Engagement and Beyond,” Deloitte says, “A productive, positive employee experience has emerged as the new contract between employer and employee. Just as marketing and product teams have moved beyond customer satisfaction to look at total customer experience, so is HR refocusing its efforts on building programs, strategies, and teams that understand and continuously improve the entire employee experience.” McKinsey talks about “internal customer experience” in similar terms.

As a result, HR teams are scrambling to get a better measure of employee engagement, and to identify how they can improve it. This naturally focuses on the human interactions between employees and the employer, from a worker’s initial hiring to his or her eventual departure (with an eye toward getting good mentions on Glassdoor).

Employee experience is also a natural focus for moves to create “digital HR” teams. In an article about digital HR, Deloitte says, “HR has the opportunity to revolutionize the entire employee experience by transforming HR processes, systems, and the HR organization via new digital platforms, apps, and ways of delivering HR services.”

Related Article: How to Build an Employee Experience That Rivals Your Customer Experience

It’s About the Digital Workplace

In a parallel universe, digital workplaces have taken center stage. Consultant Sam Marshall describes the digital workplace as a “virtual equivalent to the physical workplace, which requires strong planning and management due to its fundamental role in people’s productivity, engagement and working health.”

While this is a broad definition, the reality is that digital workplaces are largely being driven by IT or digital teams. In part, this stems from new platforms such as Office 365 and Workplace by Facebook. It also reflects the “consumerization of IT,” where the goal is to close the gap between the consumer and enterprise technology experiences.

Within digital workplaces, modern intranets are finding new roles as the enterprise front door, and collaboration is being tackled more strategically. We are also seeing the emergence of new digital workplace teams, who are empowered to take ownership of often-orphaned platforms, such as collaboration tools and intranets.

Related Article: How Intranet Home Pages Anchor the Digital Workplace

Bringing It All Together

While employee experiences and digital workplaces are making good progress, they are happening almost entirely in isolation from each other. This is generating on-the-ground problems for staff, and it is leading to missed opportunities to have a truly strategic impact.

For example, we have seen too many HR teams launch costly new enterprise HR apps that do not deliver compelling functionality and therefore fail to gain widespread adoption. Meanwhile, Office 365 is being rolled out with limited input from corporate teams such as HR and finance.

You only have to look at the topics covered at conferences to see the two worlds in black and white: Employee experience conferences predominantly feature HR presenters, while digital workplace conferences are packed with IT teams.

Digital employee experience provides both the language and the forum to bring these two worlds together.

Digital employee experience puts employees at the heart of corporate initiatives, with improved employee engagement as a key measure of success. It also promotes all the digital opportunities that organizations now have, in a way that aligns technology projects both planned and underway.

Digital employee experience can also be the foundation for broader governance around the systems and platforms that are delivered to staff. Rather than acting as a bureaucratic break on delivering projects, a DEX governance group can provide an invaluable forum for aligning initiatives planned by HR, IT, digital and others.

Regardless of the names used, everyone agrees that more needs to be done for staff to keep them happy, and to allow them to be more productive. Great customer experiences are also the byproduct of effective and empowered staff. So let’s bring together everyone that cares about staff and really make an impact.