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This is part 1, in a three part article series sponsored by PeopleDoc.

In the war for talent, it’s not just the compensation package that attracts and retains top candidates. After you’ve gotten them in the door, you have to provide a great culture that creates a positive employee experience.

For many companies, employee experience is at the forefront of the hiring and onboarding process, but becomes less so after the employee settles into their job. But savvy leaders understand that employee experience is, as defined by Bersin by Deloitte, “the sum total of all the touchpoints an employee has with his or her employer, from the time of being a candidate (active or passive) to becoming an alumnus or alumna.”

Every one of the individual touchpoints an employee has with his or her company influences their overall employee experience and resulting job satisfaction level. If you provide employees with a great experience at work — including a great culture, the latest technology, and a beautiful workspace—they are much more likely to be engaged.

But that’s only half of what defines employee experience. Whenever employees have a bad experience, even if they like the work they do, it becomes more difficult for them to stay engaged and productive at work. And all too often, some of those negative interactions have to do with everyday HR interactions throughout the employee lifecycle.

Where HR and Employee Interactions Break Down

Employee Experience Touchpoints
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Employees used to accept that many legacy HR technologies were user-unfriendly. But with the current speed of technological innovation, employees now expect their HR department to provide consumer-level technological capabilities, accessible from the device of their choice. In most facets of their lives, employees are used to having a self-service option for making routine changes to their personal information, such as updating their address and preferences with their bank, scheduling changes in service with utilities, etc. Similarly, many employees prefer a self-service model for many of their HR queries, instead of having to call the HR team and wait on the phone, or worse yet schedule a meeting.

They also expect HR to have immediate access to accurate information about their benefits and their specific stage in the employee experience lifecycle—such as being on assignment in a remote office, taking part in a company-sponsored MBA program, or having just gotten divorced and having changed back to their former last name. All of which enables HR to provide quick and efficient assistance, treating employees like valued customers.

Whenever an employee encounters a common employee lifecycle touchpoint, the HR system they're required to use can make or break the experience. For example, if employees have to manually input information instead of it pre-populating, or if the information they type in gets "eaten" by the system without saving, they rightfully get frustrated. And, chances are, those same systems also frustrate the HR professionals forced to use them when for example, they don’t receive timely notification that they need to take action.

As an HR professional, if you are looking to provide a customer service level of support to your employees, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is it easy for employees in non headquarters locations to get in touch with HR?
  • Can employees easily access company policies and processes on their own, without having to contact HR for assistance?
  • Have you upgraded outdated HR tools that don’t meet consumer technology expectations?
  • Do you personalize the HR experience for your employees?
  • Are you regularly asking for — and acting on — employee and alumnae feedback on how to improve the employee experience?

If you can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions, you aren’t providing the exceptional “customer service” level of HR service delivery that translates into the best possible support for employees, that results in increased productivity and engagement.

How Technology Can Improve Employee Experience

Your employees are used to having the answer to every question at their fingertips thanks to their smartphone. They can solve many of their everyday needs by downloading an app, asking Siri or Alexa, or watching a video tutorial. Their personal technology devices serve up personalized recommendations, remember their prior interactions (even across devices), and can be customized to suit their preferences. But then they come to work, and interact with their HR department, where it can feel like they’ve stepped back in time by a decade or more.

When evaluating the current state of your HR technology ecosystem, start by identifying time-consuming processes that can be streamlined, and manual tasks that take up HR and employee time that could be digital instead. A few common examples include:

  • New employee onboarding
  • Benefits enrollment
  • Employment letter verification
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Internal transfer or promotion
  • Offboarding
  • Life status change
  • Disciplinary action
  • Security training

In addition to automating or digitizing common HR activities, evaluate how you can make important information more easily accessible to your employees. Often, there are ways you can make it easier for employees to take a self-service approach to answering questions or initiating typical employee lifecycle activities. For example, by deploying an HR Service Delivery Platform, instead of employees contacting HR whenever they have a question about company policies or procedures, they are empowered and enabled to easily find relevant information and materials themselves, following up with HR only when they need a more nuanced answer or additional support. Not only does this free up HR’s time for highly valued activities, it also reduces a common cause of friction in the employee lifecycle.

Making the shift to consumer-grade HR technology isn’t just a boon to your employee experience. It can also lead to better communications between HR and other departments, improved accountability and a reduction of errors, and reduced manual labor through automation.