woman on a laptop in a very stark room
PHOTO: Filip Bunkens

Digital employee experience is defined as the sum total of digital interactions within the work environment, mirroring the well-understood definition of customer experience. It takes a holistic view of the workplace, and it provides a framework for making improvements.

But how well is digital employee experience understood, and how important is it within organizations? My company, Step Two, recently carried out a survey exploring these and other questions.

Digital Employee Experience Is Still Emerging

The survey was conducted in late 2018. It received 102 submissions, with the final dataset including 72 complete and usable responses, from across North America, UK, Asia and Australasia. Fifty-one percent of organizations fell into the range of 500 to 10,000 staff, with an additional 26 percent sized from 10,000 to 50,000 staff. A range of industries and sectors were represented.

While Step Two published a definition of digital employee experience in late 2017, only 11 percent of respondents reported they had a definition. Of these, half of the definitions matched the one outlined above, with a range of other definitions that were broadly similar, such as “the experiences our staff have with our digital platforms” or “It is the employee journey for everyday work.”

With 81 percent of organizations not currently having an agreed-upon definition for digital employee experience, it’s clear there is still a long road ahead for this concept and approach.

Related Article: Sound Familiar? 4 Phrases That Show Your Employee Experience Needs Work

Digital Employee Experience Not Yet Seen as Business Critical

The top three drivers for digital employee experience were reported as customer service/customer experience, employee productivity and business transformation. Despite that, 42 percent reported that digital employee experience was seen as only “somewhat important” in their organization.

Significant challenges and hurdles currently confront digital employee experience initiatives. The top five were reported as:

  1. Competing priorities (67 percent).
  2. No clear vision or strategy (60 percent).
  3. Organizational complexity (54 percent).
  4. Technology issues or limitations (50 percent).
  5. Focus is on customers, not employees (49 percent).

While many of these challenges will not come as a surprise, they show digital employee experience has not yet found a way to cut through these roadblocks.

The expected teams are currently leading digital employee experience efforts: intranet teams (28 percent) and IT (18 percent). While the survey didn’t find clear responsibilities for delivering improvements, it did see widespread support and involvement from internal communications (68 percent) and IT (61 percent) through to HR (61 percent). Unfortunately, only 40 percent of organizations reported that senior leaders are currently actively involved in digital employee experience initiatives.

Related Article: Understanding the Difference Between Employee Experience and Engagement

Next Steps for Digital Employee Experience

So what's next for digital employee experience? Based on the survey results and direct client work, the report offers suggestions for how businesses can move forward. The recommendations include:

  1. Give customers and employees equal weight, recognizing the importance of having a productive, happy and engaged workforce.
  2. Define digital employee experience within your organization, thus enabling your organization to take more confident and cohesive actions.
  3. Build a coalition of internal stakeholders to ensure a holistic approach is taken to digital employee experience strategies and plans.
  4. Engage with senior leaders early, acknowledging that only 40 percent of organizations report they currently have senior-level engagement.
  5. Deeply understand employee needs, using rich research techniques beyond basic surveys and focus groups.

Get further details about the digital employee experience survey report here.