mapping out a journey
PHOTO: Simon Migaj

For years now the theory has been that empowered and engaged employees will provide a great customer experience, time after time. No doubt hundreds of thousands of words have been written by far more qualified people than I on how to enable that empowerment and facilitate that user engagement. Perhaps less has been written on how to leverage your technology portfolio to support the different phases of the employee experience.

Our human resources (HR) colleagues will tell us that the employee journey through an organization follows a flow something along these lines: recruitment, onboarding, learning and development activities, performance assessment and eventually, exit. Some organizations may add an alumni phase after exit. I would add that the learning and development and performance management activities constitute a longer “business as usual” phase for most employees, which can be characterized by different dimensions: the recently onboarded versus the individual with long tenure; and the junior position versus the senior executive. 

So what capabilities and tools can help enable and facilitate the employee experience in each of these phases?

Recruitment

This is normally the realm of specialist HR tools and external social media. Although a good employee experience can begin during this process, this will be facilitated by good communications with candidates and making the actual hiring process easy (signing the paperwork, etc.). 

While HR takes the lead here with their specialist tools, there may be a way to improve collaboration with any agencies used during this process through the use of tools like MS OneDrive and Teams, or equivalents such as Slack and Box.

Related Article: 7 Ways Technology Is Impacting Recruitment, Retention and the Workplace

Onboarding

Without a doubt, onboarding can be stressful. New hires have to learn how to use potentially many new systems, memorize different log ins and passwords, get used to a new computer and settle into a whole new environment (or environments). Rather than collaboration tools being just another thing to learn and get used to, how can we use them to facilitate the onboarding process? 

A welcome group on your enterprise social platform can provide a central place for people to go and ask questions, and see previously asked questions and responses. Viewing the previous questions help new hires settle in by showing they're not the first new person to have had these questions, and it can help facilitate making useful contacts in a larger group or division as a result. Text-heavy onboarding guides and cheat sheets can be replaced or augmented by shorter contextual videos with links to communities where you can ask questions. Guided training tools such as WalkMe can put bite-sized chunks of training into the applications themselves.

The 'Business as Usual' Phase

Learning and development used to be the purview of specific platforms or modules in HR suites and the separate learning management system (LMS) category of software. The LMS traditionally stored the in-house developed training courses, which you accessed to book a classroom-based training session or to sign up for an online course. 

The L&D function has successfully made the move into the social collaboration space, after realizing the benefits that come from establishing communities for training courses, or in the case of larger organizations, a community for each cohort that trains together. These communities can either be self-managed by a volunteer from the group of trainees, or by a community manager. Either way, communities provide a way for people involved in the training to help each other solidify their understanding of the subject matter, seek peer assistance and keep connections with colleagues well beyond the end of the training course. Large organizations with geographically dispersed employees will benefit more from these uses of social collaboration technology than smaller organizations where everyone is in the same site. 

When it comes to performance management, there are many modern platforms for tracking goals and objectives and an individual's progress in meeting them. Even more options exist for “social recognition,” which use badging and other gamification elements built into social collaboration platforms, and specialist HR tools such as Achievers.com, to allow for peer to peer recognition.

It is in instances like these that the true benefit of the digital workplace can be seen, in how it facilitates a connection between dispersed team members and management. 

The simple expedient of using video in your Skype for Business, Webex or MeetMe meeting helps people feel more connected when they can see their colleagues. Online presence indication, chat tools and persistent chat channels in tools like Slack or Teams all enhance day to day communication, which also should have a positive effect on building relationships between dispersed employees and their managers. 

Taken a step further, mobile access to all of these tools, whether from an individual's own device or a corporate mobile device, makes it easier to be much more inclusive of mobile, part time, or other employees who are not collocated.

Related Article: 5 Steps to Create a Continuous Learning Culture Based on Peer Coaching

The Exit Phase

When it comes time to leave, businesses once again rely on specialist HR tools, as well as simple forms and workflow capabilities. Aside from HR, a number of other  business functions need to be notified when an employee leaves an organization, including the IT department. 

However, the knowledge management (KM) aspect continues to confound organizations. How do you ensure people do not take all of their knowledge and expertise with them when they leave the organization? Some KM practitioners suggest getting employees to blog as part of the normal course of their day to day work, creating a commentary on how they work, how they solve problems, and at least partly exposing and recording their tacit “know how.” Social communities, and social networks that facilitate “working out loud” also enable these knowledge-sharing activities. 

But all of these activities need to be part of people's every day work, introduced long before the person ever thinks of leaving. HR will only be able to do multiple KM interviews with senior executives when they leave. So to ensure you capture the knowledge of your employees, you cannot leave KM initiatives to getting people to file “lessons learned” reports into a “knowledgebase.” Long before people reach the exit phase, take steps to ensure their leaving won’t cause you more problems than it needs to by creating easy to use facilities for knowledge capture.

Hopefully some HR colleagues will chip in with their knowledge and tips in the comments section below.

Related Article: The Forgotten Employee Experience: When People Quit